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Mental Status Extrication (MSE)
  1. Thirusha Naidu
  1. Corresponding to
    : Thirusha Naidu, Department of Behavioural Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Naidut10{at}

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I, poised on the edge

of reason, sway.

While you, weighing differentials,

strike a diagnostic match

igniting fiery thoughts and

cogitating a multi-axial symptom overload.

I, wording my life, flounder.

Gasp, a fish on the table.

You and I fray over

shattered mirrors reflecting only

I in mine and you in yours.

You ask about my mother.

She was there, but not where

I, could find a history

In the splayed shards that

You, compose into me

With an assertive air.

Pill purveyor, dream voyeur.

I have seen izangoma*, priests, witchdoctors.

Did they see me? I cannot know.

You a doctor of Which? When? What?

Questions to throw my bones.

To read where they lie.

To determine my status of mind.

I rise unpatient-like and cross a canyon in bare feet,

encountering you midway, adrift.

You trying to put yourself in my shoes

You still in your own feet.

*South African Zulu diviners who use methods including the throwing of bone fragments to divine causes and treatments for physical, psychological and spiritual ailments.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.