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April 22, 1983

Mrs Strauss and Mabel

Author Affiliations

Valhalla, NY

JAMA. 1983;249(16):2184. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330400034020

The other day I admitted Mabel Fairfax, a 75-year-old woman with organic brain syndrome. She was a thin woman with sunken eyes and gray, wavy hair. Mabel didn't know where she was or even if she had a daughter, and as I examined her, she kept asking, "Are you a doctor? Are you a doctor?" She sat in her wheelchair with a towel around her shoulders for a shawl. Her crooked fingers frequently stroked her chin. She seemed content in her new surroundings and sat quietly.

Mrs Strauss, the other patient in the room, was a short woman, also in her 70s, who was plump and had a mean disposition. She loved to turn her radio on loudly to annoy the nurses, and once she threw food at the blood drawer. All you had to do was walk into her room and she would greet you with, "What are you

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