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Dermatological experience

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 21 July 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:173
  1. Jan Croot (, pictures editor
  1. BMJ

    It is 1958. I'm lying in bed, in the dark, in a four bed dormitory in an institution. The four of us are plotting in whispers about how we will capture Nurse Sharpe and chain her up and run away. To stop us scratching we are spreadeagled, tied with bandages at the wrists and ankles to the tubular steel of our bed frames. We are all seven years old.

    When my mum first brought me here, they took me off to have a bath and told me that she would be waiting to say goodbye when I'd finished. I looked and looked afterwards but she had gone. They had sent her away on the pretext that emotional partings are not beneficial.

    The particular building I am in is one of several on a large estate. Each building houses children with the same kind of illness, so there is an “asthma house,” a “polio recovery house,” and so forth. We are all in the “skin diseases” house. …

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