Monday, 25 February 2013

Post 1:Worst psychological experiments in history...

Over the next few days I thought I would share some of the most unethical, mentally damaging psychological experiments that have been carried out in the 20th century. I read up about these yesterday and could not tear my eyes away from reading, some of them are shocking!

The first one I will share with you is the Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971.

This involved a two week investigation into how people reacted being placed in different roles, in this case, prisoners and prison guards. Subjects consisted of healthy young males.

(Subjects had previously answered a newspaper article wanting volunteers for a psychological experiment).

Out of the subjects involved, half of them were randomly assigned as "prisoners", and were (without knowledge or warning) suddenly arrested from outside their homes on a quiet Sunday morning in California. They were finger-printed, locked in cells and blindfolded.

A simulated prison was eradicated, into which the "prisoners" were placed.

The other half of the subjects took on the role of "prison guards" and adopted uniforms and dark glasses.

Ex-convicts were consulted throughout the experiment to ensure that prison life was realistic to their experiences.

There was "The Yard" which was the only place (except the toilet) where "prisoners" could exercise.

"The Hole" was used for solitary confinement, and was a small closet, about 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep.

There were no windows or clocks, therefore a lot of the "prisoners" experienced serious time-distorting experiences.

On arrival from the police cells, the "prisoners" were reminded of how serious their "crimes" were and were told they would be imprisoned.

Each "prisoner" was stripped naked, "de-loused", and had their heads shaved (the degradation procedure). Imagine how humiliating this would be!

Each "prisoner" had to wear a plain smock dress, with their "prison number" on the front, with no underwear, and a chain around their right ankle at all times. The chain was an important part of the experiment, as it would constantly remind the "prisoners" of the oppressive environment they are in, and even during the night, whenever they turned in their beds, the chain would wake them and make sleep difficult.

The "prisoners" were called by their prison ID numbers and never by their names.

The "guards" were not given any training on how to "be" a guard, they were left free to act how they pleased towards the "prisoners" in order to maintain sufficient order. They were allowed to make up their own set of rules. Below is what one of the guards looked like - they all wore identical uniforms and mirrored sunglasses, to prevent the "prisoners" from seeing into their eyes or reading any emotion.

There were 9 "guards" and 9 "prisoners". The "guards" worked 8 hour shifts on a rota system, with more on stand by of they were needed.

At 2.30am the "prisoners" were awakened suddenly by whistles for a body count. These were to allow "prisoners" to become familiar with their individual prison ID number, but also to allow both sets of subjects to "feel out" their roles, and settle into them, by providing an opportunity for communication.

One of the punishments the guards adopted were push-ups, To the experimenters, this initially seemed like an inappropriate and juvenile way to punish someone, until they found out that push-ups were commonly used as punishment in Nazi concentration camps. One guard even chose to stand on a prisoner's back during push-ups, or make the "prisoners" stand on each other. 

A rebellion ensued, the next morning. The prisoners ripped off their prison ID numbers and barricaded themselves in the cells with the beds up against the doors. The guards were furious about this, and the "prisoners" began to taunt and curse them.

The guards took fire extinguishers and fired freezing cold carbon dioxide at the prisoners to make them stay away from the doors. They then stripped the prisoners naked, forced the ringleaders into solitary confinement and began to humiliate and abuse the prisoners.

The guards decided to set up a "privilege cell", where the 3 prisoners who were least involved in the rebellion were allowed to have their uniforms and beds back, and eat special food in front of the other prisoners, who had temporarily lost the privilege of eating. 

The guards stopped allowing the prisoners to go to the toilet when they wished, and after lights out at 10pm, many prisoners had to go to the toilet in a bucket in their cell. The guards even banned the prisoners from emptying these buckets, and the cells soon filled with stench. 

After 36 hours, one of the prisoners #8612 became acutely emotionally disturbed, disorganised thinking, uncontrollable crying and overcome by rage. Below is a photo of prisoner #8612. He had to be released due to severe mental disturbance. Another prisoner developed a psychosomatic rash all over his body from the stress of the prison environment. By this point the study was pretty much over, as it became apparent that the experiment had moulded some very disturbed individuals, as the guards became sadistic and the prisoners acted like hospitalised mental patients.

It is interesting to note that no guard ever missed a shift, turned up late, called in sick or demanded extra pay.

I hope you have found this information interesting, I will make the second post of this nature very soon!

If you want a much more detailed account of the above experiment, please visit this site here.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

What would your view be?

I am reading lots of articles at the moment about how patients/clients would feel about their mental health nurse/worker having mental health problems of their own? I know that usually this information would be withheld from patients/clients, but just on a hypothetical basis, what would your view be and why?

I'm interested to know!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

My first few months as a newly qualified nurse!

Hi! This is just a quick update of what I have been up to with my career:

I finished University and became a registered mental health nurse in October 2012 and stated working on an acute assessment unit in Hull, which means we have patients brought in by the police and our Crisis team, who may be drunk, under the influence of drugs, and suffering from psychosis or any other acute mental illness. Many may feel suicidal and it can be a worry having them on the unit, as they are considered quite risky.

It has been ever so interesting and I love spending time with my patients, talking to them and trying to work out with them a pattern of trigger events in their lives, or to identify ways in which they can go back to living at home with their families.

We often get patients who are detained under the Mental Health Act or "sectioned" and this can be a real challenge, as they often want to leave and I have to tell them why they can't.

The most challenging thing I have been faced with was being told by my manager that I had to organise a restraint on one of our male patients who had a lighter on him which we needed to remove (he had history of arson) and we needed to medicate him with an injection that he had been refusing. As he was under a section we had to force the medication upon him. I was shaking so much as I chose the members of staff to restrain the male patient, then I had to place myself on the "legs" to make sure he did not kick the person injecting him! In the end, we did not need to restrain as he decided to hand over the lighter and accept the medication without being restrained, but just the thought of restraining a large adult made me tremble! I will have to get used to these experiences as on our unit we have aggressive patients, and I do feel a bit more prepared for next time!

Anyway, I am going to Barcelona this weekend and I need to go and pack!

I will try and post more often, as what is the point of me having a blog that I don't use!

Later xxxxx

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

First shift, first day, head is like scrambled egg!

Today was my first shift at my new and LAST EVER placement for my nurse training! I have already posted about what kind of placement it is, so I'll just summarise my day!

Patients were lovely - felt threatened by one, but let's forget that for now - and the staff made me feel ever so welcome. They are all fantastic, the Consultant is funny and kind, and I really think I'll get on well there.

I have a lot to learn over the next 12 weeks but it is an amazing opportunity, I will be doing the medication rounds in a few weeks, leading the multidisciplinary team meetings and becoming keyworker for certain appropriate patients! I can't wait!

I always feel conscious that I am "in the way" on placements sometimes, especially when staff are busy, so I always try and keep as busy as possible. Spent some time with a patient in the art room, helped with a very tricky Simpsons puzzle (I am rubbish at puzzles!) and sat in the garden with a few patients and the other student nurse and had a laugh with a few other patients. I really like spending time on the ward and am definitely not one to sit myself in the nursing office and do nothing!

Had a blood pressure training presentation this afternoon and I stayed behind with the lecturer so she could show me how to confidently take them manually. I have only had one other inpatient placement which was 2 years ago so am not as confident with them as I should be, but I feel much better now! She showed me some good tips, like trying to find the exact location of the pulse in the arm before placing the stethoscope, and pumping the cuff up without the stethoscope first to guess the systolic range until you feel the pulse disappear with your fingers, then you know how tightly to pump up the poor persons arm!

Doing an early shift tomorrow, 7am til 3pm, and the same on Friday, then weekend off! I'll update my blog accordingly :)

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Final nursing placement!

I am happy because I found out today that my last placement will be at an all male inpatient unit! I have only had one other previous placement on a unit so I am looking forward to developing my knowledge over the next few months! Has anyone ever worked on an all male ward? I have worked on an all female ward and loved it, despite definitely being nervous beforehand!

Friday, 23 March 2012

"Electric Shock" therapy explained!

I read an interesting very recent article explaining how scientists have just worked out how electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) actually works in the brain. Even though it has provided a large proportion of patients with many benefits and helped to improve mood, nobody has known exactly how it works before now!

ECT is where the patient is anesthetised and given a controlled electric current through their brain. Their body may go into spasms, and can sometimes look a bit like they are having a fit. They are injected with a drug that prevents extreme muscle spasms so that there is reduced risk of them hurting themselves during the procedure.

ECT has been found to decrease the brain connections related to depression and cognitive functioning. This is why it can sometimes be dangerous to give ECT to very old people, and some patients can experience memory loss as a side effect after the treatment.

I spent a day on an ECT ward and found it to be very "conveyor belt" like, one patient went in, and when his treatment had finished he was moved along to the recovery ward and another was wheeled into the treatment room straight after. I think I saw 4 patients having ECT and I must admit it did make me feel a bit queasy! One of them twitched quite a bit and it was a bit shocking at first, but I got used to it eventually. It did not take them long to come round from the anaesthetic (about 30 mins after the ECT had finished) and then they had some breakfast and went home.

I would recommend trying to get some ECT ward experience if you are a student nurse as it is quite intriguing!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Last Week of Placement!

Next week is my last week on placement with a Community Mental Health Team and I have absolutely loved it. I'm now trying to get all my written work ready to be signed off! My mentors have been excellent with me and the team as a whole have been very welcoming and supportive.

The things I have achieved on this placement:

Three initial assessments
Initial assessment paperwork
SARN care clustering
GRIST risk assessments
Physical health analysis
Tested several elderly patient's cognitive functioning via the Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination
Been involved in the Consultant's weekly clinic
Discussed patients at two multidisciplinary team meetings
Discharge procedure + paperwork

I think this has been one of the most beneficial placements I have had to date and I will be very sad to leave, I would love to work for them right now!

I have my last placement this summer and I am not sure where it will be!