Monday, June 29, 2020

Microstory 1396: Soma

Psychiatrist: Welcome back, Mr. Stern.
Fiore Stern: Thank you.
Psychiatrist: Tell me how you’ve been feeling this week?
Fiore Stern: I’m still really nervous around other people. I never thought going undercover in a terrorist organization would make me feel like this. I keep seeing people as victims, as if I’m the one who hurt them.
Psychiatrist: Well, that’s understandable. A lot of highly trained people in law enforcement come back out of undercover feeling responsible for the things they did while they were pretending to be someone else.
Fiore Stern: That’s just it, I didn’t have to do anything. All I did was teach people how to reinforce their lawns, and spread fertilizer. If the company had never told me they were terrorists, I would have just been some guy with a normal job. I’m not responsible for the things they did, even while I was working there. They would have been doing that anyway.
Psychiatrist: It’s good that you recognize that intellectually. I would call it the first step towards getting you to a better place in your life. Your conscious brain now just needs to tell your subconscious that, not only did you do nothing wrong, but that you did something amazingly heroic. That’s what these medications should be doing for you. Tell me how they’re going.
Fiore Stern: They’re all right, I guess. I get a little tired of having to remember to take them.
Psychiatrist: They have apps on your phone now that can help you schedule doses. I have one a lot of my patients use that they seem quite pleased with.
Fiore Stern: Yeah, I know. I suppose a part of me still doesn’t like taking them in the first place. I just don’t get why I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but like, the other half of my brain doesn’t? Can’t I just...I dunno, talk to myself, and convince me to be better?
Psychiatrist: That’s kind of what therapy is for, and you said you didn’t feel that was helping. If you would like to start seeing your therapist again, however, I can only see that as a good choice.
Fiore Stern: I didn’t really like her. She didn’t exactly get me, ya know?
Psychiatrist: There are plenty of others. Just like with medication, sometimes it just takes a little experimentation to find someone who’s right for you.
Fiore Stern: Yeah. I probably do need to keep taking your drugs, though. I believe they help me distinguish fact from fiction. When I’m seeing some random person on the street, paralysed in place, and bleeding from their neck, I need the meds to tell me that that’s not real.
Psychiatrist: Yes, it’s important to be able to tell what’s not really there. I have a question about that, though.
Fiore Stern: Okay.
Psychiatrist: You say you see people paralyzed and bleeding? How are they bleeding? Is it flowing from a wound, or does it kind of look like they’re painting with the blood? Do you see burn marks, or—forgive me—dismembered body parts?
Fiore Stern: Wow, you have a sick mind, don’t you, Psychiatrist? It’s pretty normal. The blood is just coming out of them. Now burn marks. Why? Does that say something about my worldview, or my personality?
Psychiatrist: Well, the organization you helped take down for the authorities was a bomb-making outfit, was it not?
Fiore Stern: It was, yes.
Psychiatrist: From what I read, they didn’t—forgive me again—cut people, or anything. Why would you be seeing victims that look like that, if you’re subconscious is feeling responsible for explosions?
Fiore Stern: Oh. Yeah, I guess that makes sense. I didn’t think it all the way through. I should have just kept it vague, and told you I saw dead bodies.
Psychiatrist: Mr. Stern, have you been lying to me to score recreational drugs?
Fiore Stern: Ha! Nothing so human, I assure you. What do you take me for, some kind of amateur?
Psychiatrist: Interesting word choice. Does that mean you’re a professional? A professional what?
Fiore Stern: Tell me, Psychiatrist. Do you have any other appointments today?
Psychiatrist: I can clear my schedule, if you really need me to. We should get to the bottom of whatever is going on with you.
Fiore Stern: Yes, I agree. We should nip it in the bud, lest you poison the world with your claims about me.
Psychiatrist: Mr. Stern, what are you talking about?
Fiore Stern: Why don’t you stop recording, and I’ll explain.
Psychiatrist: Stop. Don’t touch that. Please keep your distance, Mr. Stern. Mr. Stern! If you don’t—

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