BUSINESS CEO SANITY

Rich, successful, admired business people can have mental and emotional problems just like the rest of us. At Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital, however, they get well a little differently.

For the last year and a half, the seventy-two-year-old Dallas mental hospital has been putting depressed CEOs, alcoholic senior partners, and anxious professionals through Accel, a psychiatric program of a different stripe than the one offered the masses.

Depending on the staff’s evaluation, the typical Timberlawn patient will be given certain chores-making his or her bed, doing laundry, and handling other housekeeping duties. The potentially dangerous or suicidal patient will be strip-searched upon entrance and may have phone calls severely limited.

A successful businessman lost in a severe mid-life crisis can get some more lenient-and faster-treatment in Accel. Hell skip the strip and let others straighten his bed-and he can phone his broker regularly.

Behind Accel is the theory that what’s therapy for some is demeaning for others, says Dr. Doyle Carson. Timberlawn psychiatrist-in-chief. In twenty-three years at the hospital, Carson noticed that, although they needed it just as much as other folk, disturbed executives were harder to get into treatment and harder to keep in the confines of a hospital.

“You bring in a fifty-five-year-old CEO of a large company who got depressed or is on drugs and you tell him to make his bed, well, he hasn’t made a bed in forty years. Instead, he’s perfected the art of getting others to do things for him,” notes Carson.

Since it began in 1987, nine to twelve patients have been enrolled in Accel at any time. They pay the same as anyone-$400 a day plus fees for individual therapy-and get a similar regimen of group, individual, and, if necessary, family and drug therapy. But the rate of retention and successful treatment for the largely voluntary patients has climbed sharply with Accel, Carson says.

Though it may seem silly to pamper a psychiatric patient on the strength of an impressive resume”, it’s clear that successful people feel life’s bumps as sharply as anyone. Ironically, however, powerful people, even when visibly disturbed, often get worse treatment than underlings. “They are able to arrange things so no one can approach or confront them,” says Carson. “They almost destroy themselves by their Dower.”

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