‘BASH’ Explores the Insanity of State Mental Hospital Bureaucracy

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Author Mike Bartos Says He Drew from Experience for His Tale of One Life-Changing Week at a Fictitious Institution.

Mike Bartos takes a setting that has been extremely successful in American storytelling and puts his own spin on it as the author of the new novel “BASH” (Bay Area State Hospital) http://www.mikebartos.com.

“From Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’ to McMurphy in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ the characters committed to mental institutions have captured the imagination of Americans and fans worldwide,” says Bartos (http://www.mikebartos.com), a psychiatrist with decades of experience as a mental health-care professional, including a year as chief of staff at a state institution that houses patients convicted of violent crimes.

“State institutions can house many criminally convicted patients,” Bartos says. “These are places that are typically rich with characters, drama, and a fair share of staff burnout.”

His novel is set in the coastal marshlands of South Carolina, at the Bay Area State Hospital (BASH) for the criminally insane. There, strange goings-on have frustrated security chief Lyle Dawkins. He calls on ambitious Charleston tabloid publisher, Gulf War veteran Ash Roper, to go undercover to help with the investigation.

What is supposed to be a half-day adventure masquerading as a patient turns into a nightmare of mistaken identity. Roper is aided by hard-drinking, blues-playing psychiatrist Doc Kerrigan, who recounts events that changed the lives of people inside and outside the barbed wire fences of BASH during a hot July 4th week.

“Through my years of experience as a professional and as a human being, I know the very best medicine for mental health is love – whether it’s TLC from loved ones or truly compassionate care from doctors and staff,” Bartos says. “Unfortunately, that is too often a small part of the state hospital equation."

About Mike Bartos

Mike Bartos is currently in private psychiatric practice in the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his wife Jody. He has several decades of experience in the mental health field, including serving as chief of staff at a state hospital for mentally ill patients convicted of violent crimes, where he focused on forensic psychiatry. Bartos is a former radio show host and newspaper columnist. While practicing in Charleston, S.C., he served as a city councilman for the nearby community of Isle of Palms.

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