Carlos was in his mid thirties when McGee first met him. For over 15 years he lived in a cell with bare walls and hardly any furniture in a psychiatric hospital. His face was marked by the fear and loneliness which dominated his life. Nobody dared entering his cell, because out of his fear, Carlos could be very aggressive and bite others. Carlos has had two lobotomy surgeries without result. The contact with Carlos was through a little shutter in the door. 
McGee decided to make real human contact with Carlos and show the caregivers that under the fear, Carlos also had the deep longing for feeling loved by, and safe with other people. The contact between McGee and Carlos is through the shutter because of safety reasons.

McGee  starts with looking at who Carlos really is. Not looking at the dirt of faeces and puss on his face and his hands, not being distracted by his strong smell, not having his thought at the stories of the aggression of Carlos, but looking in the eyes of Carlos. Looking in the eyes of a human being full of fear and with a traumatized life who still longs to be seen as a human being. By looking this way at Carlos, McGee can let go the fear for his behavior and the aversion because of his looks and smell. Only this way you can make a real human to human contact. This is the beginning of gentle teaching and this is where McGee starts every time when he meets another Carlos.


From warm compassion and the intense wish to teach Carlos the feelings of feeling safe and loved, McGee starts making contact with Carlos. He looks at Carlos with warm eyes and a warm expression in his face. He speaks to Carlos with warm words and a warm voice. He tries to touch Carlos in a warm and gentle way. He starts touching the tips of his fingers and slowly move in the direction of the body of Carlos. Slowly you see Carlos opening himself. His initial fear for McGee changes in amazement and bit by bit that it is good to allow this contact.


After about an hour, McGee can reach his hand to the face of Carlos and Carlos gives a little kiss on this hand. Also Carlos is able to reach out his hand to the face of McGee, so McGee can give a kiss on Carlos hand. The caregivers who watch the activity from behind a window, see what is happening and realize that they have to adjust their opinion on Carlos. Carlos is not a person for whom there is no hope, but he is a man who just as all other human beings, longs for human contact. Only because of his personal vulnerability and his life experiences he hasn’t learned to make this human contact. On the contrary, he has learned to be afraid of human presence. It is up now to the caregivers to teach Carlos to that human presence and engagement is good.


One of the caregivers decides to take this challenge. In the coming weeks he could spend half an hour two or three times a week to work with Carlos. He started, just as McGee did, entering Carlos life through the shutter and teaching Carlos that he is a good human being and that it is good to be together. This is the beginning of a fundamental change in Carlos  life. Other caregivers also see the real potentials of Carlos and join the contact activities with Carlos. About five years later, Carlos isn’t living in a cell anymore. He is living in a group with other special people. He has his own corner where he feels safe, but this corner has an open connection with the group and Carlos can leave it whenever he wants. Carlos is living amongst people again. We can see a video of Carlos sitting in the garden with his caregivers and his house-mates, peeling of an apple for a house-mate. Who would have expected this five years ago?


The life of Carlos has changed enormously. He doesn’t live in a cell anymore, but amongst other people. He is freed from his all overwhelming fear and he has learned that he can feel safe and loved with others. But Carlos is not at his end yet. As a result of his long social and emotional isolation he developed habitual patterns which wear of very slowly. When things happen which make him feel unsafe, he can easily fall back on these old patterns. But this fall back will not be irreversible and his care gives will be able to help him get out of it.