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November 17, 1957 - Image 16

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Michigan Daily, 1957-11-17
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Ben hahn


A Look at the Works and Writings of America's Fo

Contemporary Graphic Artist

Childrenrs Psyc hiatric Hospital
It Treats the Disturbed, Helps Them Adjust to a Normal Society

WHAT HAS our society done -
indeed, what is society doing
- to adjust the psychologically
disturbed child to a r.ormal com-
munity life?i
The answer exists at the Uni-
versity in the Neuro-Psychiatric
In this Institute, which reaches
into many studies in the fields
of psychiatry and psychology,
there is one branch which par-
ticularly deals with emotionally
and psychologically d i s t u r b e d
children between the ages of five
and fourteen - children who find
it difficult to adjust to the social
envirorent. This branch is the
Childr6 s Psychiatric Hospital.
Under the leadership of direc-
tor Stuart M. Finch., M.D., and
associate directors William R.
Keeler, M.D., and Saul I. Har-
rison, M.D., this hospital has be-
come a leader In the treatment of
psychologically and emotionally
disturbed children.
Located in the nidst of the Uni-
versity's expanding medical cen-
ter, the hospital is supported by
state appropriations and patients'
fees. It contains four ward floors
with a capacity of 75 patients.
Each of these ward floors con-
tains bedrooms, in addition to
play areas, libraries, kitchens, and
dinette facilities. There is also
an area for special schooling,
woodcraft, sewing and a gymna-
sium - all parts of the hospital's
recreational and occupational
therapy programs. Other such
facilities include a swimming pool
and playground.
]HE HOSPITAL, like other such
institutions,' is a place where.
the disturbed child can find
"someone who cares" - a some-
one willing 'to help him with
problems he can't solve. For him
there is always someone to lend
him guidance when he needs it,
someone who will be like a par-
ent to him, but will offer him as-
sistance that none but the ex-
pert can give.
Here is an institution devoted
solely to treatment of such chil-
dren, an institution whose pri-
mary goal when possible is to re-
turn the child to community life.
Of course, to accomplish this
end, services of many profession-
ally trained people are needed.
The staff of CPH is composed of
some experts in their respective
fields. There are psychiatric
nurses, psychologists, psychia-

child, due to various environ-
mental factors, is an individual
who possesses attitudes and com-
plexes which make conformity
and adjustment to society a dif-
ficult and trying process.
This is the child, who, according
to the hospital's chief psycholo-
gist, Dr. Anna Elenon, "runs into
difficulty conforming to the
norms of the adult world.
"Of course, meeting the adult
world is all in the process of
growing up - something which
every child wants to do - but,
depending on how he has been
handled, he may rebel" against
the society that fostered him.
This inability to adapt oneself
can rise from a number of envir-
onmental conditions; from the
home, school, community and
many other sources.
The hospital's chief aim is to
return the child to community life
at the end of the curative pro-
cess, a goal which is attained
through diagnostic aid and thera-
peutic treatment. Depending on
the gravity of the child's illness,
he may be accepted in residence
at the hospital as an in-patient
or treated as an out-patient, not
in residence.
O UT-PATIENT therapy is a
clinical service which is much
on the order of child guidance
services, only on a more extensive
basis; the child visits the hospi-
tal at regular intervals for treat-
ment. Out-patient service is the
larger of the two treatment serv-
If the distance involved is too
great to travel, or the child's ill-
ness is not so severe as to warrant
his - acceptance for in-patient
treatment, he may be referred to
child guidance facilities near his-
Children in both groups arrive
at the hospital through many dif-
ferent circuits. They may be re-
ferred there-'through other medi-
cal institutions or guidance serv--
ices, through schools and courts,
or through their parents or
guardians. But referral through
one of the above sources isn't
all that is needed for treatment or
diagnostic services at the hospi-
tal; this is just the first step.
After referral has been made,
the hospital steps into the picture.
It has means of determining who
needs to enter, and on what basis.
To make such a determination,
research into the history of the

ture of the child's illness. Data is
collected from those people who
are in closest contact with the
child in his associations, such as
teachers, parents, neighbors and,
in some cases, doctors.
According to Rebecca Anthony,
case work supervisor, talking with
other people is the only way such
material can be obtained, since a
psychological illness is not easily
All data is collected in the of-
fices of the case workers. The in-
f o r m a t i o n is either received
through interviews conducted in
the presence of the prospective
patient's parents, with people fa-
miliar with tle attitudes of the
child, or it may be in the form of
written and signed statements. No
information is ever gathered by
telephone, since it might destroy
the confidential nature of the re-
After all information Is col-
lected, it is turned over to the
hospital's clinical team of psy-
chologists and psychiatrists for
ACCORDING to Dr. Elenon, the
concern of the psychiatrist is
chiefly with therapy, while the
psychologist, in addition to ad-
ministering therapy, is also con-
cerned with test appraisal and
research possibilities.
In test appraisals, the psycholo-
gist gives various mental tests to
the incoming patient. Thus the
psychiatrist can better know how
to begin treatment of the child
according to the results of such
Then the child's readjustment
process begins. As a patient he
will begin to face up to the reality
of his prol lem and learn how to
cope with it. He will be shown
that he must learn to live in har-
many in the society in which he
was born - he will be taught that
.his society in many ways is for his
benefit and not his suppression.
When the child enters the hos-
pital, further work is carried on
by the psychiatric case worker. If
the child is cured, it follows that
he should not return to the same'
environment which was instru-
mental in the formation of his
anti-social t e n d e n ci e s. Some
changes have to - be made. But
surely the' entire community can-
not be patterned to fit the dispo-
sition of the child. What, 4hen, is
to be done? -
THE CHILD'S immediate envir-
onment must be modified
somewhat, and the starting point

difficulties in the home which
may have prompted rebellious
This investigation of the child's
home life may lead to discovery
of parental attitudes which might
have affected n e g a t i ve ly the
child's ideas concerning his so-
cial surroundings. Such attitudes
must be erased-if not, the child,
after being cured, could be re-in-
fected with the notions he pos-
sessed before entering the hospi-
tal. Therefore, it is necessary, in
some cases, to give parents out-
patient psychotherapy.
An additional service provided
by the department of psychiatriC
case workers is "follow up" on the
patient after he is released from
the hospital. This is not a parole
action; it is merely a notification
to parents and other interested
parties, such as his school or guid-'
ance clinic, that the hospital's
services are always available in
the event of complications,
AFTEM the preliminaries of case
evaluation by the psychologist
comes the child's introduction to
the psychiatrist. Consultation and
observations of other staff mem-
bers will supplement the doctor's
knowledge of the child's problem
after therapeutic treatment has
Throughout the child's day at
the hospital, he will be observed
by staff members. His behavior-,
isms and reactions, from the,
classroom to recreational activi-
ties, will be noted.
Often these observations are
written on sheets of paper and
later turned over to the doctor in
charge of the child on whom the
note was written. In addition to
being a source of supplementary
information on the child, these
slips also tell whether or not the
physician is succeeding in the
therapy which he has chosen to
apply, or what further steps need
to be taken in the youngster's
Also of importance are confer-
ences where all staffs meet to-
gether to discuss the problems of
one particular child. Here, nurses
and psychiatric aides, in addition
to other hospital personnel in di-
rect contact with the child, get
wider views of the child's disorder
and what the doctor is attempt-
ing to accomplish in therapy. In
such meetings all staff members
pool ideas on the child's treat-
ment and report their observa-
tions of the child's significant ac-
tions. These meetings are held
once weekly.

the nurse in carrying out her su-
pervisory duties.
In these conferences, held each
day with the change in shifts, in-
coming aides are briefed on the
tenor of the day and told of any
cases which should bear special
observations and considerations.
In essence, it is the job of the
aide to keep tabs on the children
-to supervise them in their ac-
tivities and to observe them in
their work and play.
T HE NURSES and aides, along
with all hospital personnel,
strive to establish relationships
with the child - which he will
value; thus he is drawn closer to
the adult world from which he
cringes. He learns that adults
may not always be cold and indif-
ferent to him and his problems,
and feels that he is appreciated
and cared for. Such relationships
are important in the child's ad-
justment to society.
Group relations are part and
parcel of the process of social
adaptation. This social adapta-
tion for many is initiated within
the walls of the hospital; a ready-
ing process for the patient's even-
tual exposure to a society beyond
the hospital.
This "hospital society" differs
radically from the one outside its
boundaries, known so well for its
crises and conflicts, rules and
regulations. The CPH society is
referred to as a "protected so-
ciety," one which is shielded from
those decisions and problems of
that complex whole in which oth-
er men live.
The CPH society is "protected"
in that adjustment to a .society
is a thing which must be carried
out gradually; the :hild cannot
be shoved into it. With the small
scale society at the hospital, the-
is a gradual adjustment to rules
and regulations and the develop-
ment of respect for one's fellows.
EDUCATION of those children
in residence at the hospital is
not neglected. There is an ac-
credited school within the hospi-
tal's organization composed of
specially trained teachers. The
school has grades from kinder-
garten to junior high school.
There are ten study groups with
from six to eight children in each
group.,These groups are arranged
according to type of illness, since
it is not wise to place children of
differing attitudes in the same
class, due to conflicts which may
arise in a clash of personalities.
Such arrangements exist in all
group relations between the

Ben Shahn. Cambridge, Har-
vard University Press, 131 pp.
Illustrated by the author. 1957..
BEN SHAHN'S first great series
of paintings, based on the Sac-
co-Vanzetti case of thirty years
ago, brought him great public re-
sponse. He says, "not only did the
customary art public receive the
work kindly, but there was an en-
tirely new kind of public, a great
influx of people who do not ordi-
narily visit galleries -journalists
and Italian immigrants and many
other sorts of sympathizers." This
sentence Shahn spoke in one of
his Charles Eliot Norton lectures
at Harvard University last year.
It is significant that Shahn
should have been a Norton lec-
turer at all, for the series is dedi-
cated to poetry. But Harvard au-
thorities interpreted the stipula-
tions anew and invited a painter
for the first time. It is remark-
able that Shahn was chosen when
one recalls that the late presi-
dent of Harvard, A. Lawrence
Lowell, was a victim of Shahn's
brush, the most satirical in the
country, in one of the Sacco-Van-
Zetti panels.
President Lowell was chairman
of a three-man committee that
the then governor of Massachu-
setts appointed to investigate the
verdict of guilty rendered on Sac-
co and Vanzetti and upheld by
the Massachusetts supreme court,
an extraordinary move consid-
ered legally, an appeasement
thrown to an outraged public by
any standard. The committee is-
sued a sustaining report on the
case, Sacco and Vanzetti were
executed, and Ben Shahn painted
an unforgettable series on the
patent injustices of the entire af-
ASIDE FROM the honor that
the exercise of high-quality
discernment awards Harvard for
choosing Shahn, the incident tells
a great deal about Shahn as a
man. Whatever he is as a man, he
also is as an artist. Shahn is usu-
ally committed on political issues,
on art, ,on life, and frequently to
an independent, unpopular point
of, view, but it is his absolute in-
tegrity in all matters with which
he was, is, or will be concerned
that marks him as an unusual
Ben Shahn is the outstanding
graphic artist in America today.

He has been commissioned by a
wide assortment of groups and
organizations: By the U. S. Of-
fice of War Information, by the
CIO's Political Action Committee,
by RCA to work with Diego Riv-
era on the Rockefeller Center
murals later stupidly destroyed
in one of the most Hitlerlike acts
in recent time, by Henry Wallace's
Progressive Party of 1948, by Con-
twiner 'Corporation of America, by
Harper's Magazine, Charm, Sci-
entific American, and Time, Inc.,
to name but a few.
Shahn's contribution has done
much to raise the general level
of American graphic art, for he
has carried to his commissioned
work the same uncompromising
integrity and high standards evi-
denced in his "Sunday painting,"
something few artists have done.
SHAHN accepted his Norton lec-
tureship with misgivings: "I
have come to Harvard with some
serious doubts as to whether I
ought to be here at all.
"I am a painter; I am not a
lecturer about art nor a scholar of
art. It is my chosen role to paint
pictures, not to talk about them."
These opening words of 'his first
lecture, "Artists in Colleges," pro-
vide thesis for that lecture, and,
indeed, announce a fundamental
attitude of mind apparent in all.
For it can be said that Shahn
begins by doubting everything ex-
cept himself so that he can learn
to be tolerant of many ideas and
profoundly dedicated to some:
"Perhaps the most pertinent of
the questions (about lecturing at
Harvard) has been as to just what
I can accomplish by such a verbal
Odyssey as this series of discus-
sions promises to be.... From the
point of view of both the audi-
ence and the University I can
only suggest that the venture will
probably prove about as worthy
as the ideas will be good."
AND SHAHN'S ideas take in the
whole position of the artist, not
from what that position should be
but rather from what one man has
found it to be during the last three
decades. Copsidering the problems
the artist faces in associating him-
self with a univer.-Aty, he says:
So the answers to the ques-
tion--is it possible for an ar-
tist to function fully within the
university?-must be a series
of provisional ones.
Ideally, yes, for as an intel-
lectual center, the university
can provide background and
stimulation to the artist; it can

broaden him as an individual;
it can conceivably provide new
directions for art. All this, if
orqe accepts the thesis that art
is intellectual as well as an emo-
tional process, and that it thus
profits by an expanded range of
knowledge and experience.
Ideally, yes, for art scholar-
ship itself should provide con-
tinuity and perspective for the
artist, should enrich his imag-
ery, should in every way com-
plement the creative process by
the scholarly one.
Ideally, yes, the artist ought
to function well within the uni-
versity community for it seems
desirable that the one-sidedness
of the educational pattern be
counteracted,-and in this sense
art has a mission to perform as
well as an advantage to gain.
Yes, too, because within the uni-
versity art may become famil-
liar to, and accepted by, those
young people who willprobably
constitute the taste-makers of
BUT THESE provisional answers
must be balanced against what
sometimes happens in this asso-
I have one friend who has
.been artist-in-residence at a
great Western university for
some years. He is well paid.
When I first knew him he was a
bright light in American art,
one of the good names. Full of
vigor, imagination, and daring--
and good thinking too-he was
then producing one impressive
canvas after another, and he
was beginning to be sought af-
ter by collectors and museums.
Today he is painting small dec-
orative vignettes, I cannot un-
derstand why.
"Biography of a Painting," the
second lecture, is perhaps the most
interesting of all. Shahn recounts
his understanding of the growth
of a symbol, an image, in his mind
and its outward projection on can-
vas, so far as such a thing can be
understood and explained. At the
same time he is talking about an-
other order of things, namely the
position of the artist assaulted on
all sides by exponents of politi-
cal opinions ranging from far
right to distant left. The lecture
takes departkire from the canvas
"Allegory" in which a symbol that
had preoccupied S h a h n f o r
months was finally worked out:
The central image of the
painting was one which I had
been developing across a' span of
eepages 14, 15


Ben Shahn drew the revealing
heinier (top) in 1954 when the i
scientist's political affairs had reac
"A Good Man Is Hard To Find'
Wallace's Progressive Party in 1948.
.toothpaste smile to Truman's poisei
saying the two parties were more al
was in a Shahn exhibit at the Arc
The drawing of the angelic org2

', '

ve patient is essential.
he job of the hospital's
is case workers.

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