Interesting, the article "Lake Alice left lifelong scars" (Chronicle, September 24) - I have some anecdotes told me over years, to do with 1970s mental hospitals.
In the 1970s, a male nurse at Lake Alice stayed with us. He told a story in overly excessive detail, at great length, about electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). This was combined with an almost desperate demeanour that we should believe him, ie that ECT was therapeutic and pain-free. Instead, I wondered what he was trying to hide.
He insisted ECT was done under general anaesthetic, with use of a muscle relaxant to prevent physical self-harm due to the "convulsive" part of the ECT name.
He was a family guest. I didn't want to call him a liar, but ...
The Chronicle article writes of patients screaming from ECT. So, anaesthetic was definitely not used.
Later, I became friends with my boss, in an unnamed city in an unrevealed year. One day at work his wife secretively came to me. She wanted me to read a book she had written, exposing her mistreatment at a New Zealand mental hospital (not Lake Alice). She wanted my opinion of her writing skills (clear and concise). What a story: as a young girl in a mental hospital she was given agonising ECT without anaesthetic for being "naughty".
Disgraceful. This fine lady was a pre-adolescent child while in a state mental institution. In fact she had her first period while unconscious during "treatment". It terrified her when she became conscious, alone without friend or family, only grim-faced staff. What a lonely, despicable introduction to her womanhood.
Her strength of character alone, eventually saved this capable woman. She worked hard to achieve success and a wonderful marriage. [Abridged]
Worst of possible worlds
Garth Scown (Letters, September 21) believes private schools and integrated schools are saving the country money. In the case of private schools he may be right, but there are very few of them.
But integrated schools have proved remarkably expensive for the taxpayer. The original concept had parents providing the buildings, and the taxpayer providing the teaching. But that was long ago.
Today the taxpayer maintains the grounds, buildings, and classroom furniture at the same rate as state schools. Any upgrading dictated by the ministry (lab safety, disability access, etc) is fully funded by the government.
Parents are delighted their fees are considered "donations" because the taxpayer immediately refunds 33 per cent as tax credit. So Waikato Diocesan requests "donations" of $7500 per year, and the taxpayer immediately returns $2500 in tax-credit for the privilege of attending an elitist school.
And of course many integrated schools are quite small. There are economies-of-scale in high schools, and if they were state schools many of them would be closed tomorrow. St Mary's (Anglican, Stratford) has 100 girls, Hato Paora (Catholic, Feilding) has 113 boys. They are simply not economic, but the ministry has no power to merge them.
A small town like Masterton has five integrated high schools! As a result, many of our state schools are running below capacity.
The taxpayer has been left with the worst of all possible worlds ... we are the only country that provides full government funding for privately owned schools, and offers tax concessions for any extras and luxuries the parents may want.
It is middle-class welfare at its best.