Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography Page: 54
This book is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2010 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries .
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Proctor and Belknap, where each had a room of his own with a
fireplace. These fireplaces, I might add, were never lit. I took
patients on walks around the grounds, led them to and from the
library, and stood by as they swung golf sticks or batted tennis
balls back and forth.
It was all a very sad though extremely useful experience. I
saw, to a degree, famous doctors at work, one of them the young
Cushing, then fresh out of Harvard Medical and assigned, for
a time, as externe in McLean. The course, which lasted two
years, also included three months of general nursing in the wards
of the Massachusetts General, some of which, I recall, were
fully as malodorous as anything at Bellevue.
Very quickly I learned that I was definitely not cut out to be
a male nurse, and certainly not a psychiatric male nurse. Much
work in point of psychiatric classification was being done at this
time at McLean. But the hospital's principal function was cus-
todial. It was very fine, but a prison of sorts, nonetheless. Cures,
in the last analysis, occurred spontaneously, if at all. The enor-
mous stimulus of Freudian depth psychology had yet to make
itself felt. As for psychosurgery, chlorpromazine, Frenquel,
stress theory, and all the rest, there was not even the faintest
This atmosphere of profound frustration was alien to my
nature. Beyond this, I lacked that female component so indis-
pensable in the personality of the nurse. I said nothing and
learned as best I could. But even then I knew I must continue to
lift myself up to a quite different level of medical effort.
At McLean, I believe, I grew rapidly, in intellectual grasp,
in command of language, in self-confidence, in being altogether.
It must be understood that however mad a person may be, not
until he has gravely deteriorated will he lose the manner of
speech, the vocabulary, and the tone of the milieu from which
he has sprung. Therefore, though I was unaware of it at the
time, daily contact with both doctors and patients of McLean
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Atkinson, Donald Taylor. Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography, book, 1958; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143566/m1/66/: accessed March 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.