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Positive Seclusion


My phone rang at 2 AM:

“Dr. Guterson, this patient Duane got totally out of control; he started threatening us and then got violent. It took six of us to get him into seclusion and 4-point restraints. And he’s still wild, yelling and spitting on us. Please, doc, we gotta give him something.”


“Gotcha”, I responded. “Give him a shot of Haldol 10 milligrams and Ativan 2 milligrams, both IM (intramuscularly). That should settle him down quickly and once he’s calmed down, get him out of seclusion and those restraints as soon as you can.”


The next morning I saw Duane and he was out of those restraints and out of seclusion, happily dancing about the ward. After first unleashing a few expletives at me, he smiled and said that the alone time forced him to think about himself, something he hadn’t done in years. “Thank you, Doc!”


Duane’s positive spirit reminded me of a comical scene in the 1980 movie “Stir Crazy.” There, the actor Gene Wilder is in prison and as he is placed in solitary confinement, the guard says to him: “Get in there….and I’ll see you in about five days if you make it.”

Five days pass. The security guard opens the door, Wilder pokes his head out and says:

“One more day. Please, one more; I was just beginning to get into myself.”


We all desire time alone, time for solitude, time for ‘seclusion’ (ideally not in a psych ward or a prison). The truth is that even when we feel alone, we really are not alone. This is because we all have a piece of divinity inside us and therefore we are all intrinsically connected to each other. We just need to shed all the grime that hides this. And once we access our own divine source, we subsequently are able to recognize it in others. And then we can light up the world.

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