Asylum by Patrick McGrath

By Patrick McGrath

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They built them to last back then. ” He grinned at her, indicating the Wall, visible through the pine trees on the far side of the garden by the road. ” “It’ll be a nice little summerhouse when I’m finished. ” He took out his tobacco tin and began to roll a cigarette. It smacked of independence, this gesture, and she approved of it. He didn’t behave like a patient. ” she said. “Five years now, but I’ll be out soon. ” When I heard this I thought, vintage Edgar. But Stella could match his candor.

Edgar was one of mine. I have always been fascinated by the artistic personality, I think because the creative impulse is so vital a quality in psychiatry; certainly it is in my own clinical work. Edgar Stark was already influential in the art world when he came to us, though what we first saw was a confused and very shaky man who shuffled into the hospital like a wounded bear and sat hunched on a bench for hours with his head in his hands. He intrigued me from the start, and once I’d settled him down and got him talking I discovered him to be a forceful individual with an original mind, and I also realized that he was possessed of considerable charm, when he chose to use it.

Still he said nothing, just stood there, silently defying her to betray him. “Mr. ” John Archer said it would. “You know what boys are like. ” Picking her way back along the path in the sunlight she could imagine the glances being exchanged between the two men behind her back. She’d felt excitement when she saw him squinting mutely up at her, but she had resisted it, she had no further wish to be sympathetic. He is a crafty, unpleasant fellow, she thought, and he believes he has me at a disadvantage because I let him get away with that thing at the dance.

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