“Brooklyn Zoo” is the story of the internship year Lockwood completed to earn her PhD in psychology. Apparently Kings County Hospital’s G building is a rough and tumble place serving uninsured homeless people along with others down on their luck. No one wants to be there. The year Lockwood was there things sound particularly raucous. She received little teaching and less supervision. She and her fellow interns were largely on their own relying on their past clinical experience and what they’d learned in school. A long standing feud was in play with the medical residents and the PhD’s. Lockwood portrays the doctors as pill pushers with little respect for the patient’s need to look at underlying causes of their neuroses or psychoses. A large part of her training seemed to be maneuvering around this established norm rather than working with her fellow students and staff though she did find some sympathetic residents who she exchanged information with.
Lockwood’s account is sometimes funny but mostly it’s frustrating and tragic for the patients and for her and her fellow psych interns. Their hands were mostly tied. It was more an endurance test rather than one of learning unless you count the skill of learning to deal with bureaucracy. Lots of the patients were so profoundly ill and had been for so long with so little access to resources that there was almost nothing that could be done for them other than try and find them living accommodations and appropriate medication. Often they couldn’t articulate their life stories or if they could those stories were unbelievably tragic. They seemed like people society threw away. Lockwood is at her most eloquent when she discusses her personal emotional reactions to her patients and how she processed through those reactions by looking at her personal pathology….the pathology we all have to a greater or lesser degree. Her advantage was she actively sought self knowledge and used it to not only to heal herself but to effect changes in her patients. I admire her honesty.