Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blog 101: The Irony of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Hospital and Shaw University: Both of Raleigh, NC

By Vernon M. Herron

     Two molding institutions in Raleigh, NC are having financial problems which may affect their future lives and services. Word has come that Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Hospital is closing its doors and is merging for continued effective service. Shaw University has experienced a natural disaster and is struggling to survive.
     Dorothea Dix began serving the mentally ill in 1856; while Shaw University began to service the impoverished community in 1865. Both institutions were concerned with the health of the mind for good and diverse functioning of the body. Shaw, at one time, had a School of Law, Medicine and Education, while Dix was always a correctional and treatment institution.
     By “irony,” I am referring to a pretense of ignorance and willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning.


Two Jokes
     I remember first hearing of Dix Hospital when a freshman at Shaw University in 1947. 
     A parent mother who had come down from the North to visit her son at Shaw University, ended up on Dix campus. She was informed by a Dix patient, that “this is not Shaw University but Dix Hospital.” 
     In a surprised mode, the mother said, “What a surprise! Your residential buildings look like college dormitories; your grassy plains look just like a college campus; your roadway looks just like a campus drive and roadway.”
     Whereupon the patient said to the mother, “Madam, there is a difference between these two institutions; we here at Dix must show a tremendous improvement before leaving.”
     Another episode is about a Dix patient and a Shaw student. 

     The latter was near the Dix campus one day and was “chased” by a patient all the way through town and onto the Shaw campus. The faster the Shaw student ran, the harder the Dix patient pursued. 
     By the time the student reached Shaw campus, stopping at the first bench, he was out of breath and wondered, what’s would happen next? 
     As the patient approached the student, he simply touched the erudite scholar on the shoulder and said “tap, I got you” and returned to Dix’s campus.
     What do you make of it?