Chris wrote in 1967: "When I was about ten
years old I started to have fits. I saw our own doctor about this, and he referred me to a specialist at the hospital in
Blackpool, who gave me several tests and some treatment."
video presentation in the series
1965, the year that changed my life is for the story “Sharon”. But see also
Chris Woodhead, a personal testimony (below).
Spring 1961 1.
It was in the spring of 1961, perhaps in April, when Chris was ten years old, that his trouble started: he started to have fits. He saw the family doctor about this; and the doctor referred him to a specialist at Victoria Hospital, Blackpool — to a psychiatrist called Dr. Cashman — whom Chris saw as an outpatient.
Chris can remember Dr. Cashman quite well: he wasn’t a young man — but if we bear in mind that Chris was only ten at the time, it could be that Dr. Cashman was only in his early forties. He was a small man who always wore a suit — a very clean-cut, impeccably dressed man. He had a roundish face and fairly short hair, neatly cut and combed, with a parting on the left side. Dr. Cashman had a charming sort of manner which made Chris feel immediately at ease with him. He had a “pet” saying: after just about everything, he would say, “Good, that’s splendid.” And when he asked Chris questions, he would never react in any way that indicated whether Chris had given him the right answer or not; he would never try to correct him. For example, he gave Chris familiar sayings, such as: “It’s no use crying over spilt milk”; and he asked him what he thought they meant. And Chris never knew whether he gave the right answers to these sayings, for to whatever Chris said, Dr. Cashman would just reply, “Good, that’s splendid!”
In the early days of his trouble with the fits, Chris had to go to Lancaster Moor Hospital — probably twice — for an EEG test, where electrodes were attached to his head and the electrical activity of his brain was recorded. And Dr. Cashman prescribed anticonvulsant tablets for Chris to take, with the intention of controlling the severity of the fits.