Dr. Jonathan Crane | [personal profile] thegreatinhibitor
A sadistic psychiatrist harboring a fixation with fear. Hails from Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, where he weaponizes a drug that elicits intense hallucinations and feelings of terror in those exposed to it. Generally pulled just prior to the events of The Dark Knight. Also available in other incarnations under [personal profile] ontogeneticparade.
Irving Adenauer | [personal profile] thirtyaughtsix
An unapologetic career criminal, Irving has a knack for finding unusually lucrative business opportunities and for being just about anyone but himself. He's dabbled in the corporate realm and the black market, trading goods and information under false identities and seducing women along the way. In many respects he's a genuinely nice guy, but when push comes to shove he'll do just about anything to save his own skin--including turning his back on those he loves.
Dr. Iris Nasca | [personal profile] agenesis
Sharp-tongued and ambitious, Iris is a developmental biologist with few qualms about speaking her mind. Born with stunted legs and a deformed hand into a future where science has barely managed to salvage human fertility, she conducts stem cell research intended to restore missing limbs. In the midst of anti-technological sentiment, however, she's found herself edging into the unethical--and seeking a revenge she believes is her due.
Lawrence Maynard | [personal profile] vinculum_juris
Once a crusading lawyer, now a paranoid politician, Lawrence moved to the island of [community profile] southmoor in an attempt to shirk his past. After a bloody strike robbed him of his left calf and his faith in the common man, he committed himself to protecting people of 'lesser races' from themselves and waging war against corporate overreach. He tries his best to always do the right thing, but he can't quite bring himself to show how good of a person as he is beneath his public face.
Dr. Virgil Pent | [personal profile] koinonos
Set in the Bioshock universe, Virgil is a physician who turned first to alcohol, then EVE to cope with his war-scarred psyche. While operating a practice out of Pauper's Drop, he offered to help a fellow splicer work towards recovery, a proposal that soon gave rise to a therapy group for addicts. In effect, he's found himself a hero in the making--that is, if he can learn to believe in himself.
Sanford Adamas | [personal profile] spark_gap
Sanford is the determined mind behind a groundbreaking invention--an engine powered by piezoelectricity. Disowned by his family and driven by the gospel of industrial progress, he believed himself nigh invincible until a design error put six deaths on his hands. Now, he's struggling to rebuild his shattered reputation, knowing that his faith in himself depends on his success--and if he loses that, he has nothing left.
Code by [community profile] bannertech.
Notes from Personality Unlimited: The Beauty Blue Book (1943)

This book is a self-help book for women written by Veronica Dengel, who describes herself as the former owner of a salon in New York. Her book covers a variety of topics, including dieting, exercise, doing hair and makeup, fashion and etiquette. It’s filled with questionable, dated (we now know boric acid is actually poisonous) and often amusing health advice (the author, for instance, believes poor eating and irregular defecating results in “toxins” building up in the body) as well as the occasional kernel of truth.

The scanned illustrations are by Sylvia Haggander. Because of the copyright date, I ask that you not use them or the photographs for any commercial purposes.

The following are some things I found particularly interesting.

Under cut )

Jeanette Pendstone, RN

Patient - conversion reaction
Don't coddle me. Don't ask me about my mother or my childhood--I'm not traumatized and I'm not sitting through any of that hocus-pocus. If it's anxiety, give me whatever pill you think'll work best. I just want to get back to my life.

Dr. Clyde Feinald

There are two things patients have been conditioned to trust--the man in the white coat and the power of the medication. I can pierce them with needles, subject them to side effects, make them cry, and they still trust me. Who the hell am I to leave their faith unrewarded?

Lena Sangrey

Patient - phobic reaction
For a while I could smile and pretend, but I'd never really come to terms with it. I figured it was my fault; maybe I could've talked him out of it. But I can't remember the last time I stood up for myself. It wouldn't have gone any other way.

Dr. Archie Rezentes

I always knew he was straight up brilliant. And I think I needed someone to believe in, you know? I had this feeling like I was still just a kid, and here was this sharp, determined guy that knew exactly what he was doing. He gave me direction.

Dr. Walter Hodgdon

If you want to get to the heart of any disorder, you have to attack the physiology. On the most fundamental level, you're a victim of your own imbalanced chemistry. You can approach it from all sorts of angles, but why not be direct?
Notes from Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage (1965)

This book is a later edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette (1922) authored primarily by her grandson’s wife, Elizabeth L. Post. It’s an American book that was published in New York.

Something to keep in mind is that an etiquette manual is both a reflection of how people did behave in society and values that may or may not have been realized. I do know from personal accounts that certain things (eg, giving a lady the wall while walking down the street, opening the car door for her) were widely practiced, but it’s best to consider this more as a set of guidelines than immutable rules.

Under cut )

There’s a nasty infectious disease going around. Your character is caught in the middle of the outbreak.

What is it?

  1. Conventional: Influenza, cholera, the plague—there’s a lot of real terrors out there that pop up from time to time. Maybe it’s something that your character’s society has seen before, or maybe it’s entirely novel. Are there vaccines and medication that can put a stop to the problem? Or are there too few resources and too little time?
  2. Biological warfare: The epidemic was created for the purpose of wiping out an enemy. Someone could have weaponized an existing agent, like in the case of anthrax, or maybe they released its carrier into the population, like plague rats or malaria-laden mosquitoes. Maybe the agent doesn’t directly affect people at all, but it’s decimating crops and livestock. Whatever it is, it needs to be brought under control.
  3. Behavioral: The disease has a habit of making people act unlike themselves. It could have the side effect of causing aggression or hallucinations. Maybe it’s a sexually transmitted agent that gets by through making its victims more promiscuous. Or perhaps the changes are part of the treatment, not the agent, and when victims don’t have another option…
  4. Undead: The obligatory zombie scenario. Untreated, this disease inevitably leads to death…and death is only the beginning.

What is your character doing?

  1. Patient: They’ve contracted the disease. Do they know this? If they’ve just gotten it, they may still be contagious without showing symptoms yet. Or they could be an asymptomatic carrier, spreading it unknowingly to everyone they come in contact with. If they realize they’ve been infected, how are they dealing with it? Are they out seeking treatment? Are they quarantined?
  2. Caregiver: Your character is helping the infected. Perhaps they’re nursing a sick friend or relative. Perhaps they’re a medical professional. They’d better be careful not to get the disease themselves!
  3. Epidemiologist: Your character is trying to put a stop to the outbreak. They could be working to get people vaccinated or trying to track the series of cases back to their source. If the disease is still unknown, they might be trying to figure out what it is. How is that going for them? Are people willing to listen to them, or are they encountering resistance?
  4. Scientist: Back in a lab somewhere, your character is trying to develop a vaccine or a cure. If it’s a biowarfare agent, maybe they were the one to weaponize it. What is their stake in all of this? Who’s behind their paycheck?
  5. Businessperson: There’s a way to profit off of any conflict and your character’s found it. They could be marketing the medication or selling medical supplies. Maybe they work for or own the company that weaponized the agent. Are they trying to help, or only out for themselves? What might happen if they or one of their loved ones get the disease?
  6. Political leader: Someone has to calm the populace or rouse the troops. Your character is in charge, but how are they handling the outbreak? Is its source a secret they’re trying to cover up? Are they trying to hide their own deteriorating condition?
  7. Other: Make up your own role!

Post with any preferences you might have and have fun!
The following is adapted from Foundations of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, 5th ed. (2006). It's worth noting that the guidelines given below are both modern and more oriented towards the psychodynamic and humanistic perspectives, so they will not apply to all settings or therapeutic strategies. There are a lot of excellent points here, though.

Cut for length )
The Mental Hospital Meme

For some reason or other, your character has found themselves in a mental hospital. Maybe it’s a nice, clean, modern facility; maybe it’s a veritable house of horrors.

Why are they here?

  1. Voluntary admission: Perhaps their anxiety has become too much or their mood swings have become too disruptive. Perhaps they’re tired of seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. Whatever the case, they’ve checked themselves in for treatment.
  2. Involuntary admission: Someone else has placed them here—their parents, their lover, maybe even their child. A court may have ordered them to undergo treatment. Are they angry about it, resigned to it or secretly a little grateful? Are they actually ill or simply misunderstood? Or does someone have a sinister reason to want them locked up?
  3. Staff: They work here. Maybe they’re a psychiatrist, psychologist or some other professional administering therapy. Maybe they’re a nurse, orderly, or someone else involved in the day-to-day affairs of care. Are they invested in their job or shirking their responsibilities? Do they want to help or do they have darker motives?
  4. Visitor: They’ve found themselves here for some other reason. They could be a reporter investigating the place, a cop or lawyer wanting to talk to a patient, or a family member wanting to see how their relative is doing. Are they determined to be here or just fulfilling an obligation? Will they be received kindly, or are they walking in to more than they bargained for?

What are they doing?

  1. Therapy: Your character could be lying down and talking about their childhood, but that’s not the only option. The doctors here could be treating phobias through desensitization or trying to stamp out alcohol addiction with aversion therapy. Maybe they favor drugs and shock over anything else. Then there’s the possibility that they’re into particularly experimental techniques…
  2. Earning your keep: Many mental hospitals were built to be self-sustaining and prior to the 1960s, it wasn’t unusual for patients to be put to work. Making clothes, cleaning rooms or helping out on the grounds might be a welcome break from the monotony, or it might be the last thing your character wants to be doing.
  3. Visiting hours: They could be eager to hear news from their boyfriend or nervous about chatting with a violent patient. Maybe they want to get this over with, or maybe they’re making the most of it.
  4. Free time: Your character has some time to themselves. How do they spend it? Watching TV in the dayroom? Checking out the hospital library? Catching up on patient records? Trading gossip?
  5. Exploring: In a place like this, there’s a lot to see. But is your character really supposed to be wandering around in those tunnels and outbuildings? What happens if they get caught?
  6. Escape: Your character’s making a break for it or chasing down someone that is. Are they successful? What’s the punishment for such a transgression?
  7. Something else: Supply one of your own ideas!

Comment with your character and any preferences you might have, and go to it!
So I'm a huge nut when it comes to research, I admit. I'm also happy to look things up for people, because I frequently learn cool things along the way!

This post is for asking me to research for you. These are some of the subjects that I'm interested in, have prior knowledge of and am willing to look into:
  • Infectious disease
  • Mental health and psychiatry (see this link for an overview of midcentury psychiatry)
  • First aid, medical procedures and stuff related to the practice of medicine
  • Medical and public health history (particularly from around 1940-1970 or 1860-1910)
  • Forensic science and crime investigation
  • Fashions and culture of 1940-1965, the late 18th century or the 19th/early 20th centuries
  • Steam-powered and early electrical technology (particularly from 1880-1910)
Leave a comment here if you'd like to ask a question! I am a college student, so it might take me a few days to get back to you, but I'll do my best.

Alternately, you can leave your modern health-related questions at my tumblr!

Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, which opened in 1890 and was one of the large state hospitals in use during this period.

Psychiatry in the 1950s and early 1960s

The middle of the 20th century was an interesting time for psychiatry—it marked the introduction of the first truly effective psychiatric drugs, followed by the beginning of the deinstitutionalization movement and a shift towards a more community-based mental health care system. Whereas in the first part of the century hospitals were frequently overwhelmed by chronic cases of severe mental illness, those drugs made it possible for large numbers of those cases to be stabilized enough for them to live out in the community, and helped psychiatry gain a lot more credibility as a legitimate branch of medicine.

Here, I’ll give some general information about what the field was like, what schools of thought and therapies existed, and provide the specifics of how mental disorders were classified. I’m going to focus this post on what was present in America, because that’s what I know the most about, but rest assured that many of these branches and trends were seen in European countries as well.

Cut for length )
My character Dr. Everett Willock ([personal profile] herd_effect) is a general practitioner from 1952. In the interest of writing him believably, I've done quite a bit of research on the time period. Here's some of the resources I've used and the interesting things I've found.

What sources do I use? )
What was medicine generally like in the time period? )
The diseases in Willock's backstory )
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