Monday, January 05, 2009

Saturday 29th May 1943

The specialist last Tuesday overhauled my chest yet again and said it was OK. My steady loss of weight was not due to TB or other causes of that nature, but was probably a reflection of my psychosis. (I know this because I carefully opened my envelope, scanned the contents, and re-sealed it, during the journey back from the general hospital!)

Yesterday there was a pleasant surprise for me; four patients arrived back from the farm, and the names of two of these were ACI Clifford Crew and Private Johnnie Store... both very sunburnt, Crew tranquil and pipe smoking, Store excited and puffing nervously at a cigarette.

“How do I look?” cried Store almost at once, “Think I look any better old man?” “No, you're browner but you don't look too well,” I said after a moment. “Good!” cried Store, happily!

Crew saw the Mo yesterday afternoon and was told he'd be returning to his unit in a few days. Since then, poor Crew has been very bitter and depressed. He certainly seems in very low spirits, but I suppose the MO knows best. We walked the groves, as of old, twice yesterday and twice today. William Lias came with us, making the forth. I'm sure I shall feel much better now that my two old friends have returned.
The walks with Lias alone were rather depressing as he constantly talked about his troubles and made the most ridiculous statements which no persuasion was possible to rectify to his unbalanced outlook. On yesterday's strolls he talked in similar style for some while and then the combined efforts of we three others managed to switch the theme of conversation into lighter channels.

(“Paranoia,” muttered the Freudian Store, aside to me, after listening to Lias for a few minutes, “Delusions of grandeur – you noticed? Only mild paranoia of course, though he thinks it's terrible”)

Today I discovered, in a roundabout way, that Store is not scheduled to go out in a few days time like the others. I told him this; he was overjoyed! I cannot tell whether Store is skilfully malingering or whether he is neurotic and thinks he is only malingering. Anyway, he is very amusing and stimulating!

There was a scene in the ward this morning rather reminiscent of the acute ward in no. 22. Seinukas, a Lithuanian Jew, went off his head completely. He pulled his bed to pieces and then began to pace feverishly up and down the ward, getting faster and faster and staring about with a fixed glare. The doctor came, and called him; and his will was powerful enough to make Seinukas come and stand in front of him for a few minutes. But poor Seinukas was beyond answering any questions. He stood by his bed then, in a peculiar rigid manner; and after a while he began his furious walking again. Presently two orderlies came, and seized him in expert hands (he struggling and screaming terribly) and carried him off to Ward 37.

Corporal Lias watched, and then said, grudgingly, “Well he's worse than me at any rate.”

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