Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Diary of a Medical Student: Hospital of Horrors Paperback – May 6, 2010
|New from||Used from|
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle Edition for FREE. Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
The setting is, sadly, a major state-run mental institution. The author allows us to see through the eyes of the idealistic student that he was, and to experience his stunned and repulsed reaction to what he found to be the reality of psychiatric medical care.
But you don't have to be in the psychiatric profession to find this book both fascinating and revelatory. It's a first-person historical record, in a very readable style, of the often heartless and "stab-in-the-dark" treatment that the mentally ill endured, and though we'd like to think it was in the distant past, it's really not so long ago.
And, on my honor, I am simply a reader of the book. My enthusiasm is genuine and untainted by any motivations except to see this wonderful tool-of-a-book discovered and utilized.
After his first few weeks at Manteno, Widroe began a diary in which he chronicled his most important observations. That diary is the basis for his book. Widroe's tale begins with his tour of Manteno, a shocking revelation of all the miseries that lay beyond his own comparatively livable ward, Freud II.
I knew I was going to like the author, and want to know what happened next, when he observed a series of patients getting electric shock treatments. His distress for these people was so intense, and his curiosity so strong, that before he knew it, he was volunteering himself for a shock treatment. Thus Harvey Widroe comes across not as a stuffy doctor, but as a sympathetic human being, as prone to rash impulses as the rest of us.
For me, the most tragic vignette is the moment in Chapter Fourteen when Harvey finally succeeds in coaxing a few words from a catatonic schizophrenic on Freud II. Zeke, typically for a catatonic, was fixed in one position, described by Widroe as "a disheveled and exhausted Statue of Liberty." Zeke, it turns out, was "...keeping the Earth from falling into the sun." These were the first and last words he ever spoke to Widroe.
Toward the end of his stay at Manteno, Harvey fell into a depression, and no wonder. Effective drug therapy for chronic schizophrenics had not yet been discovered, so treatment was nearly impossible.
Despite this, Widroe ends his book on a positive note: in the next-to-last chapter, What Happened Next, he explains how antipsychotic medications were eventually discovered, enabling the vast majority of mentally ill to recover and return to normal life. Many state mental hospitals, which had for so long housed and failed to treat thousands, shut down.
This page-turner is obligatory for any mental health professional or student, and the lay reader will find it fascinating as well.
This is a book for those who are interested in the history of the treatment of America's mentally ill population who were institutionalized for "their own good".