Monday, January 05, 2009

Monday 24th May 1943

The paper headlines cried:

“ALLIED AIR OFFENSIVE AGAINST ITALY CONTINUES”
“ITALY EXPECTED TO CAPITULATE SOON”

Muller, a sad looking Polish Jew who sleeps just across the ward from me, glanced at the optimistic announcement. “Yes,” he said, “The war will be over soon... Perhaps in three – four years more.” Obviously a neurotic. Who else would suggest that so long a time must elapse before the goal of Ultimate Victory for our Glorious Cause should be attained?

Brief interview with the doctor; again he suggested electric treatment, but when I demurred, he said, “Alright, it doesn't matter. I never insist, if a patient won't have it willingly.” I said, in reply to other questions, that I was usually happy nowadays and ate well but did not eat meat. “But what's going to happen to me?” I ended. “You'll probably go home,” he said to my surprise. “What! Into an asylum in England?” “Why an asylum? What makes you think that?” “Well sir, I don't think I'm mad, but maybe the Army does.” “I cannot say what will happen when you eventually get home,” he said, “For you may get better or you may get worse.”

(How strange to thus be talking casually of going home! And he seems so definite about my being ill – more sure than I am. If only I knew what is wrong! “Psychopathic personality” means nothing to me.)

“What do you think about going back?” he asked, as if guessing my thoughts. “Nothing much,” I replied truthfully, “We have been promised that so many times. Usually by officers and always with an ulterior motive.” “Alright, that's all,” said the doctor with his normal expressionless glance, “By the way, you are to see the Medical Specialist again, tomorrow.”

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