THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE
Tuesday, April 9, 1968
THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE
Tuesday, April 9, 1968
The mental ills may be universal and-everyone may be to blame,
but that doen' make the struggle to readjust to society
any less difficult.
(or) "Bob McDaniels marches
In the phalanx of A American
By ANNE BUE SER
What happens to a person -when he
realizes he is mentally ill and finds him-
self in a world where he is constantly
forced to face that awesome realization?
I began to ponder that question as I
sat in the half-gloom of the mental
ward where other shadows sat quietly
beside me. We had just returned from
dinner, and in the growing twilight I
found myself crying as the meaning of
the mental hospital struck me with full
force. This was a place where a drama
of tragic self-awareness is constantly
being re-played: one has accepted him-
self as unacceptable, and must begin the
frightening, hopeful task of rebuilding.
Therefore, as I sat in the Young Adult
Ward of Northville State Hospital and
shared in the reflective silence of the
patients beside me, the fact that I my-
self was not really mentally ill but was
there as an experiment seemed irrele-
vant. I was still crying.
My original purpose for coining to
Northville for three days was to attempt
to understand how a mental patient goes
about rebuilding himself to have another
go at reality. It was not until I had been
at Northville myself that I began ques-
tioning just what this "reality" meant.
Through the Outreach program I had
already been spending one night a week
at Northville. Each Tuesday night we
rode out on the bus, spent an hour and
a half working with elderly patients who
made up our ward, and then returned
to our university world. It was a sporadic
and incomplete introduction to mental
illness. Moreover, many of the patients
we worked with in the ward, G-2, were
considered hopefully "out of touch," and
had been for years.
Therefore, G-2 was pot the, center of
much attention on the part of the psy-
chiatric and rehabilitation program. The
real work was going on elsewhere.
I began to be aware of real business
when my group from G-2 escorted our
patients to a talent show given by the
Young Adult Unit for the rest of the
There in the audience with an elderly
lady friend from G-2 who has been in
Northville 11 years and will probably die
there, I watched young men and women
produce a two hour show. The perform-
ers were mentally ill, too, but there was
an overwhelming difference between
them and the adult audience of G-2.
In a Northville patient's chalk drawing
is a view of the world
so that I would be ready to meet my
psychiatrist and social worker without
I talked about things that bothered
me, that caused confusion and insecurity
I had outwardly denied. Dr. Goknar told
me I had done very well, that my con-
dition was not uncommon and I need
not worry about "convincing" any of the
hospital staff I would meet later. He as-
sured me they would accept my presence
without the necessity of any acting on
My first feeling of ambiguity arose:
how reassuring was it to be told that I
would easily fit into the world of the
Dr. Goknar shook my hand; wished me
luck, and when we emerged from his of-
fice, told the nurse, "There's no reason
why you can't take Anne to the ward
right away. There's just enough time to
get settled and meet the girls before
lunch." The nurse smiled and led me
down a hall through a series of doors
until we came to one lettered B1-2, un-
locked it with a great jangling of keys:
"Here we are." I was met by another at-
tendant who thanked the nurse, locked
the door behind me, and taking my arm
officially led me into the world of B1-2.
According to the "team conditioning"
program employed in this unit, patients
undergo a few steps in their term at
Northville. If I had been a conventional
patient I would only have experienced
the first step in the three days I was
there. Due to my liason with Dr. Goknar,
however, I was able to experience much
of Step Two as well. Only in this one
aspect, however, was my "treatment"
different than that of any other patient.
The precautions of Step One were con-
tinual reminders that I was "ill." The
mirror, nail file, and glass bottles that I
had brought with me were labelled and
carefully locked away where I could ob-
tain them only at certain times in the
mornings. My clothes were marked with
a black felt pen for hospital identifica-
tion; I was relieved of a bottle of sac-
charin in my purse.
Now the major feature of Step One
began: the new patient is isolated from
outside contact and immersed in the
world of the ward.
I was to share one of the double rooms
with another sophomore college drop-
out. To my surprise, I found the room
equipped with a small closet, night stand,
trunk, and the array of stuffed animals,
books; and rollers usually found in a
girl's room. The only difference was that
here the bottles of make-up, hair spray,
and other forbidden items were hidden-
carefully in drawers.
Not all 30' of us lived in .one of the
These performers were not only working
actively with and against their illness,
but were able to confront it in the open,
before themselves and others.
This kind of courage moved me more
than the empty eyes and quiet hands of
those who had stopped living. It seemed
then that the B1-2 ward was the best
place to observe the intensity and success
of the reality re-fitting process.
With some contacts with various of-
ficials of the hospital, and mental health
board, it was agreed that I could engage
in this experiment, but only with the
knowledge of the ward staff. This stip-
ulation seemed an unfortunate distor-
tion of my intent to gain true insight.
But at the last minute the founder and
chief of the Young Adult Unit, Dr. Kemal
Goknar, secured me permission to be
committed as just another patient, the
other hospital personnel unaware of any
After all, as Dr. Goknar told me later,
hadn't Irving Goffman done a great
service to the understanding of mental
health when he produced the highly ac-
claimed sociological study of patient un-
derlife in Asylums?
I felt inadequate to the task before me
when the project became fact 'and I
stood in the Northville admission office
at 10 a.m., November 28, 1967. Dr. Gok-
nar introduced me to the receptionist at
the desk as a new patient, a "volntary
committal." My identification with the
world of the mentally ill had begun
With extreme warmth the lady secured
basic statistics of my name and age. She
took my driver's license and keys; they
would be returned to me "when I was
ready to leave the hospital. She did not
seem surprised to learn that I was a
sophomore at the University of Michi-
gan; I was later to find out that patients
in the Young Adult Unit have a true
variety of backgrounds. The -patients'
only common denominator was at least
an average, and often a superior, I.Q.
The next step in the usual admission
procedure was an introductory session
with the Unit Chief, Dr. Goknar. The
doctor- told me that this was the time
when the patient ordinarily summarized
his problems for the staff's initial insight.
He suggested that I practice my delivery
man.. Relations Commission, he fought
for equal opportunity in housing, em-
ployment and education.
When Negro grade and high school
students returned their history books as
a part of an NAACP campaign, Fr. La-
Marr called for more than "token op-
position." He suggested, instead, that Ne-
groes demonstrate against the Board of
Fr. LaMarr was severely censured by
members of his parish for his militancy.
After a series of confrontations, he was
transferred by the diocese last fall. At
the time of his transfer, he was trying
to alert officials to discrimination in
housing. One of his cases involved Bob
When McDaniels returned to Bay City
in the third week of June, he had to
move his seven-months-pregnant wife
and their young son into his mother's
crowded apartment when they couldn't
immediately find a place to rent.
After a month of hunting, the pattern
became routine. "I would see a "For
Rent" sign in the window of places -I
went to look at. But the landlords in-
variably told be the place had already
been rented and that they'd just for-
gotten to take down the sign," McDaniels
Outdated zoning laws have long.
thwarted the construction of high-rise
apartments, and McDaniels was turned
away from each house he tried to rent.
After six weeks in Bay City, he met
Art Manwell, his old high school teach-
er. Manwell owned four houses near the
Pulaski-28th St. corner.
He offered to rent one of them to Mc-
Daniels for what McDaniels believed was
"a marked-up price." Still, McDaniels
welcomed the chance and made an im-
Manwell and McDaniels completed the
tareement on a Friday with the under-
move in on the following Monday.
standing the McDaniels family would
move in on the following Monday.
The Pulaski-28th area, where Man-
well himself lives, is predominantly solid
middle-class shop-owners and gray-
haired widows on fair-to-middling pen-
The neighborhood is totally white.
Sharpest of all their fears is that open
housing will drive down the valuation
of their property.
Pulaski-28th is one of the "better"
blocks in the South End, where a high-
ly-concentrated ethnic group of Poles
religiously follow the customs of their
homeland. Church-sponsored festivals
are annually filled with polkas and
A Negro family moved into the South
End two years ago, several blocks west
and several notches down the social
scale of the Pulaski-28th block. The
family endured spit-thrown curses,
broken windows and even flaming crosses
in their front_ yard. But they stayed,
keeping the yard clean in spite of the
garbage which is still' occasionally
dumped there in the middle of the night.
Because they own the house, they have
been able to buffer the pressure.
The McDaniels family wasn't in that
"Before Bob signed the lease, we talked
about the possibility of prejudice and
agreed that either of us would back out
of the deal if we changed our mind,"
Manwell said. On Friday night Manwell
told some of the neighbors that he was
going -to rent to a Negro.
By Saturday, almost all of the neigh-
bors knew of Manweli's 'proposal. By
Sunday night, Manwell was ready to
back out. The weekend had been filled
with threatening phone calls which
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ANNE BUESSER is a sophomore Daily staffer who has been
active in the psychology department's Outreach project.
Although MIDDLE EARTH IS NOW
WAY, ABOVE GROUND
AT 15 So. Slate St. (3rd floor loft)
We ARE STILL MEETING
Your UNDERGROUND NEEDS!
New Hours: Weekdays: 11 A.M. to 10P.M.
WINE FOR THE GOURMET
BEER FOR THE MASSES
818 S. State
promised not only to burn crosses in the
yard but also to burn down the house.
"I'd never seen anything like it in my
life," explained Manwell. "People I
thought were my friends wouldn't talk
to me. My wife was in hysterics because
of the phone calls. My children were
sent home from the neighbors' yards.
"On Saturday night, they got together
in the house across the street. My wife
and I sat in our living room and listened
to them curse and swear at us from
there. When we went outside a few of
them picked up gravel to throw at us.
"What would you have done?" Man-
well asked. "It was going to be hell' for
both the McDaniels' and for us."
McDaniels told Manwell that -he was
willing to take on hell and humiliation.
"I asked him to put the rent on a two-
month trial basis. I even offered to go,
around and talk to all the neighbors."
But the issue was settled. "We ta
it over with a few of the neighbors,
didn't have strong feeling either
The consensus was that it woul
work," Manwell said.
A Bay City Times reporter hear
the incident and investigated on hiso
He talked to Manwell who steeredl
to two of the neighbors who had obj
ed most - Al Roszatycki and H
Attempts to interview Rosazt
failed. His wife told the reportert
her husband was asleep and didn't t:
the matter was important enough
her to wake him. Repeated effortsv
Niedzinski, however, was willing
talk. "I know the paper is never g
to print anything like this," he boas
If they do, I'll sue them for everyt
they've got. and run you (the repor
out of town."
Then he smiled and moderated
tone. "Anyway, I told Manwell I di
care if he moved a nigger in her
even offered to sell him my house s
could become a slum landlord
that's what he wanted."
Fri. & Sat.:
11 A.M. to 12 Midnight
HOWARD KOHN, a junior in journalism and himself a Bay
City boy, is executive sporis editor of The Daily.