The pricking of the social work bubble
While preparing this book I went out to pay a second visit to the distraught mother of Susan L. Susan, a 20-year-old student, had just been compulsorily admitted for the second time to the mental hospital where I work after allegedly exhibiting manic and frightening behaviour. My initial call had been a few days after Susan’s first admission, a month before; it had been a difficult interview, notable for the fact that Mrs L. was displaying far more overt symptoms of mental stress, mainly in the form of a paranoid hysteria, than we had any direct evidence of her daughter doing. It was Susan, however, who was lying in hospital — so heavily sedated that she could neither walk straight nor see clearly. At that time Mrs L.’s rejection of Susan had been so strong that she referred to her as ‘that thing’ and could explain Susan’s uncharacteristic behaviour only through demonic possession (Susan had in fact played around with drugs and witchcraft). My task seemed to be to listen and reassure, to try and place the rejection in context, and to sow the seeds of alternative explanations for Mrs L. to consider as her immediate tension evaporated. To do this I had to try and obtain some sort of guide to the events leading up to this crisis. All of this falls firmly within the bounds of standard casework procedure.
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Notes and references
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