October 25th, 2005

Yellow head

Murderer's Eyes

A big part of a mental health community nurse's life, is meetings, it seems. Today I sat in on the doctor's ward round at the hospital. Coincidentally, this is the same ward I used to work on as a health care assistant, so I handily knew the staff and many of the patients.

In the afternoon there was the weekly mental health team review, in which the team looked at new patient referrals (usually from local GPs), and everyone was updated on the patients who were getting input.

One referral caught everyone's attention. A man in his early forties, who two of the team had already been out to see. This gentleman, unknown to the services before, had been referred to the mental health team by his doctor (GP). This man had been suffering abdominal pain, and was being treated by the doctor for it. During investigations, the patient had come out with such bizarre ideas, that the doctor was concerned enough to refer him on.

The gentleman was quite open in his belief that when he was a child, he'd been abducted by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady (the infamous Moor's Murderers, who'd tortured and murdered several children in the mid-Sixties). The eyes of these killers had been transplanted into his head, one eye from each killer, so that he now looked at the world through murderer's eyes. He showed the social worker and community psychiatric nurse, photos of himself as a baby, to prove that he didn't have any eyes when he was born. The photos looked perfectly ordinary to the two mental health team members.

The gentleman had strange fancies about his body, believing that there were holes in his back. He expressed the wish to be "opened up", so that all his organs could be put back in their correct places.

He also told a very odd story about an event that had happened several years previously. He'd been walking down the street, when he noticed a very emaciated dog on the other side of the road. The dog attacked a baby in a pram, tossing the infant into the air and swallowing it whole. Our man ran over and rescued the baby by putting his head into the dog's mouth and pulling the child out. He told the two team members that he'd suffered injuries from this incident, from where the dog had held his head in its jaws.

It will be interesting to see how the team go on to handle this client. Even though his beliefs are amazingly florid, there's probably no reason to bring him into hospital. He seems to manage his life well enough, holding down a job as a truck driver. The two staff reported that he appeared very amiable and eager enough to talk about his beliefs. He's obviously had these beliefs for many years and he's unlikely now to return entirely to normality, as the ideas will have become too entrenched. Hopefully, he'll agree to have some medication, which will moderate his psychosis.