How I Handle Nudity

If you were to handle a nude person, how would you go about doing so?

I never considered this question before, but when circumstances put you in front of a nude person, you try and do your best when it is a wholly unexpected situation.

And so it was, she a female in her 60’s, completely stark naked in front of me. Being in the common area, patients and nursing staff were around.

All I had asked for, was to have a quick look at the rashes on her thighs that were present yesterday. I was warned by nursing staff that “she’s not wearing any underwear”. Bearing that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to ask her to return to her room where I could examine the rash on her thigh. But bringing up the subject of the rash, she went off.  Asking her about the rash led to one thing after another, then she started hammering her fist down on the table, appearing more and more frustrated.

“If you want me to take my clothes off, I’ll do just that!” And just like that, she removed her top off, to expose her naked body right in front of my very eyes.

“Please put your clothes back on” I said calmly. She refused to do so, and fortunately with female staff around, they eventually helped persuade her back into her clothes.

I felt embarrassed and shocked at the same time. Before retreating to the doctor’s room while she stood naked before me, I made sure to take a good look. That way, I got to see her rashes on the thigh had definitely resolved.

Guess what this patient had? She was bipolar, and manic.

Good heavens, I hope I don’t need to deal with another naked patient in psychiatry. But then again, anything goes in psychiatry…