One got away, and one was lostBMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7353.1559 (Published 29 June 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1559
- Alan Calvert Gibson, retired consultant psychiatrist
It was in the 1950s that I was working as a senior hospital medical officer at a psychiatric hospital. One of my responsibilities was to look after the acute admission ward for female patients, and one day a 28 year old woman was admitted with a paranoid psychosis. She seemed a typical paranoid schizophrenic, hearing voices, believing that she was being watched and followed, and hearing her name constantly mentioned on the radio. But a strange thing was that she made odd movements with her tongue, like someone playing a wind instrument, and although neurosyphilis had all but disappeared by then, I remembered that a “trombone tongue” was a sign of general paralysis of the insane.
In those days every …