What is an archive for?

The world-famous and immensely influential Henderson Hospital - Maxwell Jones's first full therapeutic community hospital - was closed traumatically and despite the evidence and a major campaign to save it by former and current residents and staff, in 2010. Five former members of the staff team met recently at PETT for a Thursday-Friday Henderson 'Archive Weekend', designed in part to set the scene for future events. Participant and former Medical Director Dr. Kingsley Norton, emailed this feedback to PETT Archivist Craig Fees. It is reproduced here with his permission:

 

Dear Craig,

I wished to thank you again for hosting such a successful, stimulating and challenging event.

The organisation of it was smooth and, for us, anxiety-free!

Once with you and your friendly team, we were made to feel welcome, without feeling intruded upon - you were all attentive yet unobtrusive.

 

In 40 years of working within the NHS, I have attended many educational and training events but none has matched the professionalism, good sense and sensitivity to the topic in hand as did our meeting (over 2 days) with you, under your expert facilitation.

 

You managed to steer a course for us that avoided us getting bogged down in morbid remembrance of things past but also did not deny the material's emotional impact, as we tackled the task of starting to create an oral history of 'Henderson'.

Your involving Dennie Briggs, a 91-year-old pioneer of the Therapeutic Community movement, using a telephone link with the US, was inspired and the resulting conversation inspiring!

You enabled us to harness our own creative energies, in order to plan for future events, involving our ex-service users.

 

In addition, your ability to identify the main points and fashion them into a formulation helped me to let go of much of my past 'emotional baggage'. Therefore, I now believe that our group has more work that we can and want to carry out, in furthering the democratic and other ideals that had brought us collaboratively together in the first place.

I left PETT with the above thoughts and beliefs (more or less articulated in my mind), not knowing whether they would remain and whether I would feel as positive, afterwards, when I awoke the next morning!

They have remained.

 

Best wishes,

Dr Kingsley Norton
MA (Cantab), MD, FRCPsych.

 

Dr. Norton writes that he was 'Medical Director Henderson Hospital, 1989-2006 and Reader in Psychotherapy at St George's, London, within the Forensic Section of the Department of Mental Health Sciences, 1996-2006'.

During that tenure, I led the development of what became known as the 'Nationwide Personality Disorder Service', which included the setting up of Webb House, Main House, and their associated outreach services, whose remit was to cover as much of England as possible, in order to rectify the shortage of such specialist (now termed 'Tier 4') services, i.e. outside S-E England.

It was the unintended consequence of yet another 're-disorganisation' (as it was termed by the editor of the British Medical Journal, around the time) that indirectly, in 2010, led to Henderson's demise.