Medicine: Psychodrama

The scene: a small circular stage in the basement of Washington's St. Elizabeth's Hospital. The cast: a group of inmates. Under white lights suggesting harsh reality, 19-year-old Susan thrashes about in a temper tantrum. She once used these tantrums to win attention from her widowed mother or her uncle. Now, as the stage lighting turns slowly to green, another inmate enters in the role of her father's ghost. The two decide to go away together, and the lights are blacked out to indicate the passage of time.

Susan was the star of a "psychodrama," a psychiatric technique in which mental patients are...

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