"The Acid Bath"

"The Acid Bath"

"The Acid Bath," by William Fuson


The response to our RELEASE No. 1 was tepid. You, dear reader, probably read it and said to yourself, "How quaint!" or "Isn’t that fine!" and laid it aside. And if you remembered how a CPS Unit at Cleveland Hospital was ejected for raising a public clamor through the press for better conditions, or how the administration of state hospitals in Virginia received a cleansing investigation abetted by CPS efforts, or other sensational phases of CPS experience in state hospitals, you may have added, "Either that is an ideal hospital or they are keeping their traps shut!"

Well, dear reader, you may have a point there. Not that our trap is hermetically sealed; it is (to stretch a metaphor) just jammed a bit between the horns of the old dilemma: unobtrusive education vs. sensational expose. You see, we know patients are being neglected here—we do part of the neglecting. We have seen patients abused—we have even done a few things ourselves which we would prefer not to get into print! But now we are meshed into ‘the system’ and are, willy-nilly, participants. In fact, so much so that our initial distress has become variously expressed after a year of exposure as: resigned acceptance of the status quo, chronic illness, sporadic protest alternating with a certain "isolationism," transfer requests, or persistent and continuing devoted efforts to ameliorate the elements of the day-to-day life of the patient. And the proportion of the Unit falling in this last group is, in truth, amazingly large.

We are convinced, dear reader, that improved care for mental patients is an objective requiring fights on many fronts—in a bureaucratic although democratic society the art of buck-passing develops surpassingly. As attendants, we have been clamoring (unsuccessfully) for training for attendants; but education is needed not only for attendants, but also for supervisors, staff doctors, superintendents, boards of control, legislators—and the ordinary citizen. You, gentle reader, fall in the last class, and that is about the only one willing to listen to us. But while we urge you to do your part as a citizen (we hope an uninhibited one), we see no point in unduly antagonizing the other cogs in the system. After all, we like it here better than in the available alternatives CPS presents—it’s closer home!


--Taken from Release, a publication of camp #131. No. 2. June 1945. p6. In "Methodist Camp #131; Cherokee, Iowa. 'Release,' 1944-46," folder 17/61, series IX-13-1. MCC Records Collection, Akron, PA.