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Editor's Commentary on “Pioneers, pilgrims”

 , December 21, 2013

This week, we publish “Pioneers, Pilgrims” by Mary Clare Masters, a poem that places us face to face with a psychiatric patient a midst his ramblings. The disjointed rhythm of the poem compliments the scattered thoughts of the patient. “Why bother to read books if we can’t read each other’s minds? / How are you certain I follow anything you say?” It can truly be a challenge to care for psychiatric patients without dismissing or distancing yourself, listening to ramblings without parody or laughter. At the same time, it is all too easy to avoid this uncomfortable contact with someone whose thoughts are not firing correctly. However, these are the people who are “Cocooned in a padded room and a recent dose of five and two”, the people most at risk of abuse and neglect, the people most in need of our loving care. Stigmas abound and fears dwell deep. We walk in the room cautiously, always prepared for a sudden outburst, sometimes assuming the worst. Only by acknowledging and confronting these biases will we be able to move forward as a profession and as a society. The mentally ill are our forgotten children, kept from the spotlight for the comfort of others, yet desperately needing advocates to pull them from the shadows. 
Bryan Sisk

Deputy Editor, The Living Hand