Posts Tagged ‘psychiatrist’

prisonCall him Alexander. He came from a non-English speaking country and met some Canadian guys in a bar. They sort of adopted him and when they did crime, they blamed a lot of it on him. A fellow teacher told me that Alexander’s problem was not crime, but English. The fellow teacher said he didn’t know what the crime was, but he suspected Alexander didn’t have a big part. But he got a big part of the sentence.

Alexander came to my class to improve his English writing skills. He and I hit it off right away. He had this subtle sense of humor  — he would say something and an hour later it would hit me. And he was a fast learner, his writing advanced from “See Spot run” to good English sentences.

psychiatristThe prison system determined that Alexander had mental problems. They strongly suggested that he agree to be moved to the Regional Psychiatric Centre where they could help him.  I didn’t say anything, but I suspect he picked up my attitude. I knew a person who was a psychiatrist in one of our prisons. This person had very little control over their own person and life. If anyone needed help, that psychiatrist did. I’m not saying all prison psychiatric staff are like that, but the prison system does hire people who can’t get jobs elsewhere.

“I’m going to the Psych Centre next week,” Alexander said.

He looked at me and I know we had a conversation without either of us saying a word.

He finally shrugged his shoulders and said, “What are you gonna do?”

He spent a year in the Psychiatric Centre and he wrote to me often. His letters were a real joy prison shrinkto read. Everything was fine on the surface, but below it all, the message was something like I have to be nuts enough for them to feel they’re helping me, but sane enough so I can get out of here.

Today Alexander is out, in a loving relationship and works very hard in a full time job. He and I meet for coffee and we have spoken and unspoken conversations. I know that for Alexander, prison worked. It was so terrible, he’d never want to go back. Especially the part about psychiatric staff helping him.

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