In his 1984 book 'Art as Healing', Edward Adamson wrote the following passage about the doctor-patient relationship:
"When a person is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the doctor becomes the most important figure in his [sic] life - the arbiter of treatment, and the means of eventual release. Surrender to illness often entails a child-like dependency: a mixture of trust, love, hate and burning resentment. While some see their doctor as a kindly, parental figure, nursing them back to health, he [sic] is frequently seen as a heartless brute, impervious to personal suffering."
The latter seems to be the case inmany of Bishop’s depictions of her doctors. Here, a female patient is a tiny pathetic figure at the mercy of ‘the sadist in the white coat’, a towering and intimidating figure with a whip.