Copyright © 2021 Robert Loney
Homeward
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Homeward

An excerpt

    

Ben made a pathetic picture as he lay in his cell at the jail. He spoke little to anyone, refused to eat, and slept fitfully. A psychiatrist was called in to treat him. Bearded and wearing round, wire-rimmed glasses, the man might have passed for Sigmund Freud himself. "I'm Dr. Fraser," explained the psychiatrist. "I'm going to ask you a number of questions and I'd like your cooperation in answering them. You will talk to me, won't you?" Ben nodded slowly but did not sit up from his recumbent position on the bed. "Good. I'm sure we can get along splendidly. You haven't been very cooperative with the authorities here though. They've been unable to provide me with any personal information about you. I don't even know your name...." "Benael," was the lethargic reply. "Your last name?" "No, my first name. I don't have a last name." "The psychiatrist looked dubious and took some notes on his pad. "Are you from around here, Benael?" "No." "Where are you from?" "You wouldn't believe me if I told you." "When were you born?" "I don't remember." "You look about twenty-five...." "Think what you like." Dr. Fraser sighed and added to his notes. "Now, Benael, I'd like you to try to remember as far back in your life as you can. What is the earliest event you can recall?" "The very earliest?" "Yes. Go right back to the beginning." "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep...." "I mean, your beginning," interrupted the psychiatrist. "I tried to hit it as close as I could." "Can you recall for me any of your early childhood?" "I never had a childhood." Dr. Fraser added to his notes. "Could you tell me about your parents? Are they still alive?" "My father is." "When did your mother pass away?" "She didn't pass away. I never had a mother." More notetaking. "What sort of person is your father? Do you get along well with him?" "He's quite authoritarian. I don't really think about what sort of person he is. He just is. I never question him in any way. I get along well with him. I'd be afraid to do otherwise." "Does he know you're in jail?" "I'm sure he knows." "Has he made no effort to get you out?" "Not yet. But he will. He did the last time." "You've been in jail before?" "One other time. It was during the Inquisition in Spain." "Do you realize how long ago that was?" "Four or five hundred years, I guess." A profusion of notetaking. "I once helped St. Peter break out of jail," added Ben. "That might be of interest to you." "No doubt St. Peter was quite grateful," said Dr. Fraser wryly. "Mmm - he seemed a little confused actually. He didn't want to come at first but I coaxed him." The interview went on for most of an hour. The psychiatrist emerged looking rather frustrated. He conferred with a clinical psychologist. "He's not the most cooperative patient I've had. I think I've gotten all I can out of him for now. See what you can do with a Rorschach. We'll try to put our findings together when you're done." The psychologist came into Ben's cell with a set of ten cards in her hands. Each card featured a bilaterally symmetrical ink blot, as though someone slopped ink on one half and then folded the card so that the other half became the mirror image. Some of the blots were colored. More were just black and white. The psychologist explained that she wanted Ben to look at each card and tell her what he saw in the blot. The test took another hour. Afterwards the two therapists met in a nearby conference room. Dr. Fraser asked the psycholgist to begin with her findings. She went through the cards one by one. "In the first card he said he saw 'a dark winged creature - something from the depths of hell' to put it in his own words. He saw the blot as something very sinister. A winged creature is a popular response for this card, but he seemed abnormally agitated by it, suggesting that he's paranoic. "In the center area of the blot he saw a human-like figure. When I asked him if the figure was clothed or unclothed, he said it was wearing transparent clothing. This suggests that he's preoccupied with seeing through the outer aspects of people. When I asked him what sex the figure was, he said he couldn't tell. This indicates a certain ambivalence toward sex on his part. He also described the figure as being pulled about and having no voluntary control over its actions. This points to schizoid tendencies. "Now, card two. Here he saw two animals of some sort facing each other. He went to the trouble of describing the texture of their skin, showing that he must be a sensitive person. In general, his responses were idiosyncratic and he often spoke about the 'genuine essence' of what he saw rather than giving accurate descriptions. This shows a breakdown in his perception of form, and a psychotic loss of contact with reality." "I see his problem as basically being an unresolved Oedipus complex," said the psychologist when she had finished reviewing the cards. "Because of his consequent feelings of guilt, throughout his life he has had to maintain rigid defense mechanisms against his drive impulses. He has an intense libido fixation back in his early years. It has robbed him of psychical energy which should have been used for development of constructive functions of the ego. Since the ego is the part of his psyche that maintains contact with reality, and has never developed properly, his ability to perceive reality has been greatly impaired." "Yes," agreed Dr. Fraser. "I can't recall ever having a patient who was so severely out of contact with reality. His idea of reality is as far removed from our own as... heaven is from earth, to use an expression. He's the victim of severe delusions and megalomania. He has high aspirations which have no foundation whatsoever in reality. The world is too harsh for him to tolerate and life can only be made pleasant for him by escaping to his inner dream world of Nirvana. "He suffers from a delusion of immortality; he makes out that he has always lived and will always live, as though the passage of centuries has no effect upon him. The illusion of timelessness is a defense against maturation, against walking with time to the finality of death. He has an infantile delusion of living in eternity." The two therapists discussed modes of treatment they might try. The process of helping Ben get in touch with reality was under way. Top

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