Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Microstory 1382: Social Psychology

Roommate: Oh my Gosh, this is so weird.
Psych Major: It doesn’t have to be weird.
Roommate: So, you want me to make up new problems?
Psych Major: Yes, don’t talk about any real problems. I am not a licensed therapist yet, so it’s not really within my purview to ask you about your real life. I mean it, you’re supposed to come up with something new. It’s okay if you have to take a little time to come up with a good cover story.
Roommate: Okay, just give me a minute.
Psych Major: We can do this later tonight, or even tomorrow, if you would rather. It’s not due until Friday. I do need some time to organize a little presentation.
Roommate: No, I’ve got it. Go ahead.
Psych Major: Okay. So, what brings you in today?
Roommate: I assassinated the king of South Canada, and I’m feeling really depressed about it.
Psych Major: Okay...
Roommate: Ha, I can come up with something more practical.
Psych Major: No, this is good practice. Except for the fact that South Canada doesn’t exist—which is probably for the best, honestly—that’s a technically possible scenario, just maybe not in our universe. So. Tell me. Why did you feel the need to assassinate the king?
Roommate: I asked him for help irrigating my corn, and he refused, so our crops failed, we couldn’t sell enough, and my youngest son died of starvation.
Psych Major: So, are you depressed about having assassinated the king, or are you more depressed about your son?
Roommate: Hm. I guess that’s a good point. I didn’t care for the king, and I’m glad he’s dead. But I loved, and miss, my son.
Psych Major: So, if you could go back in time, you would do it all again, just like that?
Roommate: I would, yeah. I wasn’t caught, of course, so I stand by my actions.
Psych Major: Do you have any other violent thoughts? Are there other people you feel deserve to die?
Roommate: Ah, I’m not falling for that trickery. I know you can’t report me to the police, because the crime has already happened, but you would be free to do so if I admit to the intention to commit some crime later.
Psych Major: That’s not quite how the law works, but I see your point. Still, ignoring what you’ve done in the past, if you really do feel like you need to hurt someone, perhaps we can work on channeling your frustrations, so they come out in more productive ways. Have you tried talking to these people who frustrate you?
Roommate: Not really.
Psych Major: I want you to pretend that Penka Penguin, sitting on that shelf, is your worst enemy. This is a judgment free zone, so tell Penka whatever you want. What would you want to say to her that you wouldn’t be able to without getting in trouble?
Roommate: I would look her in the eye, and tell her how irritating she can be, and how I feel like I can’t be myself around her.
Psych Major: I’m sorry to hear that. What does she do to make you feel this way?
Roommate: Well, she’s always talking about her classes, and how rewarding it is to be learning all these things, and I just feel inadequate because I’m only a business major.
Psych Major: You’re a business major.
Roommate: Yes.
Psych Major: No, I mean you, Roommate, are actually a business major. You’re meant to be making this up.
Roommate: Oh, right. I’m a...art history major.
Psych Major: Roommate, do I make you feel like what you’re studying isn’t good enough?
Roommate: I was just playing a character. I slipped up when I mentioned a fact that’s true about the real me.
Psych Major: I feel like maybe you slipped up when you started talking about how someone you know irritates you because she’s always talking about her classes.
Roommate:  Psych Major, I don’t want to kill you.
Psych Major: I’m glad to hear that, but maybe there’s a little bit of truth to what you said?
Roommate:  ...
Psych Major: We need to have a discussion. I don’t think being a business student makes you inadequate, and if I’ve done anything to make you feel this way, we should talk about it. Not a therapy session, but a real talk between us.
Roommate: It’s not that big a deal, and it’s certainly not worth failing your psychology assignment. 
Psych Major: I won’t fail, I’ll just cut this part out.
Roommate: I really don’t want to kill you.
Psych Major: What you said is what we in the business call parapraxis. It’s when your subconsciousness rises to the surface, and you accidentally vocalize your true feelings, even if doing so could damage your social health. Obviously the assassin bit was just a fabrication, because you having access to a king is an absurd notion. But then when I asked you about other people you’re having trouble with, your gut reaction was to think of the honest answer to the question. Then you said it out loud before you remembered we were pretending.
Roommate: That all sounded really smart. You’re kind of proving my point here, but I recognize that you’re not doing it on purpose. So let’s talk.

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