It’s evening on the psych unit. Several patients are watching the movie Titanic in the common area. Rather, they are trying to watch it, but their view is blocked by a delusional woman who is alternately twirling and dancing gaily in front of the television and then holding animated conversations with it, her face scant inches from the screen. The others are amazingly tolerant, simply craning their necks this way and that as they try to see around her.

Fast forward about 30 minutes:

Snack time. Coffee, juices, cheese and crackers, sliced apples and oranges, yogurt, and ice cream are spread out on a side table in the dining room. As the dancing woman fills her plate, a manic, hyperverbal young man steps in next to her to get some crackers, talking non-stop to nobody in particular. “Get away from me!” she tells him sternly, shooing him back. He meekly steps away, still talking, and waits for her to finish. As she walks past me with her plate, she flicks a frowning glance back at him and tells me, “I don’t trust people who act strange!”

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