November 3rd, 2011

Medical Records from Psychiatric Hospitals

Present day U.S., long-term (several months' stay) psychiatric hospital.

My MC is investigating the apparent suicide of a psychiatrist and has [illegally] obtained the charts of the patients she was treating at the time of her death. I know the charts would contain demographic information about the patients as well as medication/dosage information, but my googling has not revealed what else might be in the patients' charts or how the information would be organized. All I seem to get is information about obtaining psychiatric patients' charts from various hospitals, and I don't think they'd approve of my trying that.

Would the psychiatrist have charted just symptoms reported by the patients and observed by hospital staff, or would she be likely to chart her personal impressions of the patients, things they said, etc.? What kind of language would be used? How would the information be organized? How easy/hard would the information be for a non-psychiatrist to understand? Anything else I should know about psychiatric patients' charts that would make my story more authentic?

Word salad: seeking samples of disorganized speech

Setting: present day US; fantastic elements present

Searches performed: Apart from the obvious Google searches for "word salad audio," "word salad sample," "disorganized speech sample," "disorganized speech analysis," and similar variations, and clicking through the references on Wikipedia articles on word salad, disorganized schizophrenia, etc., I also searched JSTOR for the same key terms, limiting results to journals in psychology, sociology, and linguistics.

I have searched YouTube, also, and gotten several results ostensibly featuring patients expressing word salad, but with YouTube, it's hard to know exactly what the provenance of clips is.

What I'm looking for/how I'm using the research: I'm hoping to find samples (audio or transcription) or analyses of so-called "word salad" speech associated with disorganized schizophrenia. I have a character who's been the victim of a supernatural force and now displays disorganized speech and thought. He only appears for one scene, but despite that and the fact that I'm using supernatural elements, I'd really like to be able to portray the communication problems of "word salad" with something like accuracy, including the frustration it entails for the patient as well as those around him, and not perpetuate the "magic mental" trope.