Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How True is this?

Last night I watched the season premier of House, which I have been anticipating for a while because a) I love House, and b) House is going to a psychiatric facility!

I of course got very excited (maybe a little too much) comparing House's portrayal of a psych facility with reality. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, House is based around a very narcissistic albeit genius doctor (Gregory House) who has an addiction to pain killers and seems unable to love anyone (except maybe Cuddy, the hospital director). He's been slowly descending into madness (hallucinations, addiction getting worse, etc), and so he has voluntarily placed himself in a psychiatric hospital. As I watched I was surprised by how many things the writers got right, and of course noticed some things they got wrong. I thought it would be amusing to share some of those with you all who don't come in and out of a psych facility everyday.

So your wondering what's real? (or at least close to it)
1) You know how the patients (I'll say patients because that's what the show called them, but I'm used to calling them clients) used cigarettes as currency? That is extremely common. Patients place a high importance on cigarettes, almost all the patients smoke, and a lot of fights stem from cigarettes (who has them, who doesn't, who owes someone some, etc.)
2) You may have heard staff on the show call out codes. Codes are commonly used to alert other staff to danger or something that requires attention.
3) manipulation- House does a lot of it. It is very common, both to staff and loved ones.
4) you know House's roomate? There's pretty much someone exactly like that on my unit. Talks fast, always excited (in my real life case, he's bipolar)
5) quiet girl- also very real portrayal. Some of my clients don't speak. period.
6) Group therapy- vital to everyday. The nurse doesn't run all of them, but does do some. And the tantrum House threw announcing everyone's diagnoses and pushing other patients buttons, also very real portrayal
7) medication time- yes, and it happens just like on the show. Come to the nurses station, take a small cup of pills
8) talent shows- we have one next week!
9) a doctor as a patient?- possibility. I know a former social worker who is now my patient.

And what is just false? (these are more fun)
1) patients don't get seclusion simply for disagreeing. Poor House seemed to be getting dragged to seclusion for every minor thing. Seclusion is a last resort. And we don't place hands on a patient unless it is ABSOLUTELY our last resort. And when it happens, we most certainly are not wearing a mad scientist white getup while doing it (but I get it, it makes a good show)
2) this one may be the most important: Doctors and staff should NEVER challange delusions or hallucinations! This may lead to getting punched in the face. Seriously. The doctor on the show outrightly tells a patient he is not a superhero (he believes he is)
3) Patients can't just walk out and drive around a car. This is for obvious reasons. However, there are AWOLS
and last but certainly not least:
4) The nurses are not that hot, and they most certainly don't wear high heels (but one can dream)

I must say, overall the show was pretty sensitive towards mental illness and didn't stray too far from reality. Yet another reason I love this show.

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