Liberty Just in Case

A Dialogue for the September 12th World

Archive for July 12th, 2006

To Pluck From the Memory a Rooted Sorrow…

Posted by Mark on July 12, 2006

I’ve been away from the blogging world too long. Yet what I’ve been doing while away has been deeply rewarding, dangerous at times, and much needed in our world. Perhaps Shakespeare said it best:

Macbeth. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

Doctor. Therein the patient
Must minister to himself.

I’ve taken a job as a Social Worker, Therapist, what-have-you, on a locked psychiatric unit. After four months, I can honestly say I’ve found my calling, again. It’s about time.

I work at a hospital on the near west side of Chicago. Not quite inner city, but not quite suburban either, my unit treats everything. We have the homeless, chronically mentally ill. We also have the housewife with her first bout of depression. We have the Freshman in college who just had his first psychotic break of schizophrenia. English, spanish, polish, hindi, urdu, and every language in between. And with each one, plucking the rooted sorrow is the goal.

A therapist can only point out the roots; it is up to each of us to tend our own gardens. The sorrows of my unit are the sorrows of all of us. I’ve learned over the years that there is but a small distance between my side of the keys and my patients’. It is the knowledge of my own rooted sorrow that allows me to work with the deep roots within others. In the end, as the quote says, the patient must minister to himself. After almost 20 years as a therapist, I once again find that Shakespeare had the answers all along.

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