Alright, this is the story that I had planned to write during this holiday. The first part of it, anyway. From the start, I had the plot planned out, but didn’t really have a sense of how long it would really end up. I think I had assumed it would be fairly sort, but probably a bit shorter than it’s ending up. As a result (and because I didn’t want to go too long without posting), I decided I’d post it in a few parts, the first of which I present to you here. I don’t know how many parts there will be, probably two or three. As always, WordPress removes my italics and stuff, so if it seems like there should be emphasis on a certain word, there probably was. Also, this story technically takes place in the same universe as Mostly Hidden, though that doesn’t really affect the plot at all. The drugs they use, however, are manufactured by Mind Pharmaceuticals.
And happy new year.
All in all, it was an interesting and in general a useful experiment, despite being illegal in some ways. A group of psychologists and sociologists, my being one of them, decided to begin a study into the human psyche; we wished to determine whether insanity is something only affecting certain people or if it is something that can be triggered in anyone, given the right circumstances.
We found a small abandoned mental asylum that would serve our purposes and kidnapped… Or, perhaps, borrowed, twelve people, specifically chosen for lack of any current insanity, and without any childhood abuse or anything else that could eventually develop into the disease. We had to do so to get as much of a “control” group as possible. We made sure to take them in a way that least exposed ourselves to them, injecting them with a minor barbiturate in the middle of the night and taking them away, then putting each in a different room with the standard amenities as would be traditionally available in a mental institution before they awoke. The aim of this was to bring them there in a way that would be easily explainable, as you will see. I give this introduction to provide context for the remainder of my notes, in the form of my logbook.
6/6/16: Each of us have been assigned one patient to study and work with. We, the twelve psychologists taking care of patients, play the role of their chosen doctors. Other people of our group work as nurses and other workers within the facility, and some merely observe and record things that we may have missed otherwise. My patient’s name is Raymond Orthrop, a thirty-two year old man from a small nearby town who worked a desk job at a software firm. He was five-foot nine, one-hundred and fifty-seven pounds, and a slightly higher than average IQ. He wasn’t married, but had been romantically involved several times in the past few years, and none of them had ended in a traumatic breakup. He seemed like a normal, decently happy man.
This morning (the morning after we had put them in their rooms), he awoke with a start and immediately began calling out for help. I entered his room.
“Hello Ray,” I said.
“Who are you? Where am I?”
“My name is David Forsond. I’m your doctor. Doctor Forsond? I’m sure you’ll remember.”
“As for your second question, this is your room! You’ve spent the past six years here, Ray. Do you not remember?”
“No, no. Not at all. This isn’t my room. I live at 547 Bankway Drive, Mayfield, Massachusetts. I work at Scision Software. I was working there just yesterday! You can’t tell me I wasn’t.”
“Oh, Ray, I’m sad to hear that. We had been working with you on coming to grips with reality, but it looks like you’ve relapsed. You’ve been sleeping since early yesterday afternoon, and it seems you were living in “your reality”.”
“You goddamn liar.” He looked as though he remembered something, then lifted his hand and looked over it. “See, there! There’s a little cut on my wrist from where it was rubbing against the edge of my desk,” he said, showing it to me.
I shook my head slowly, a disappointed look on my face. “You did that to yourself, Ray. I’m sorry to tell you, but I need you to remember what’s actually real.”
I could tell that he was thoroughly resistant to what I was saying, so I told him that I hoped he’d relax and think about things, then left the room. Talking with the other “doctors”, it sounded as though most of their “patients” had similar reactions to when they told them the same things. It was to be expected; we were attempting to make them think everything they believed was false, which would take much time and effort. But that was only the first step to what we were doing. There was so much more, but we needed to succeed in this first. Or, if we couldn’t convince them entirely, at least place a seed of doubt that would grow into something usable for our purposes. If we could just get them to doubt their previous reality for an instant, our experiment could continue.
In the meantime, between my visits with Ray, he and the other patients are being treated exactly as they would if they were in a real mental institution. Medication – though I don’t expect them to take it, for the first few days at least – group therapy, therapeutic activities, and the like. Although group therapy will have to wait for a bit, until they all have begun to trust us and mistrust themselves enough. Otherwise, no doubt, they would talk amongst each other and begin to piece together what’s going on.
I know enough about brainwashing (not that that’s what we’re doing, but a similar concept all the same) to know that it’s just a matter of time before they begin to break. Or, perhaps, soften. Hard clay that’s made soft into a pliable substance once more, able to be formed and controlled by our hands.
6/7/16: I met with Ray twice today. The first time, this morning, he seemed eager to speak with me. As soon as I entered his room, he stood up off the bed and walked towards me.
“Look, ‘Doctor Forsond’, I think there must just be some misunderstanding here or something. I don’t belong here. I know I live elsewhere, do other things. I know it.”
“How do you ‘know’ that? How can you be sure that it isn’t your mind tricking you? A defense mechanism, perhaps? Perhaps… protecting you from remembering something that happened…?”
“What are you implying?”
“I imply nothing. But I hope you will soon be able to understand why you’re here.”
“I’m here because of a mistake, or something. I don’t belong here, and I think you know that. I do not ‘feel’ insane, assuming that’s why you think I’m here. Do I seem insane to you?”
“Intermittent stretches of normal functioning aren’t enough to get you out of here, Ray. We don’t want to treat the symptoms, we want to find the cure. I’m sure you can understand that, even if you don’t think it applies to yourself.”
“I can. But it doesn’t. I’ll prove that to you, sometime.”
“I hope you can.”
He rejected his medication that morning, and again later in the day. When I went to visit him a second time in the late afternoon, he seemed to have no interest whatsoever in speaking with me.
“I heard you didn’t take your meds, Ray. Could you tell me why not?”
He remained silent, staring out the small window next to his bed.
“You may perceive it as hypocrisy, us giving you medication, since that only treats the symptoms. But do you know why we do it?”
He sat with his back straight, keeping completely still.
“It abates the more major symptoms of your disease, so that we can speak with you, understand you, help you process the roots of what plagues you. It eases the effects of your problems just enough that we can assist you in fixing the deeper issues. Does that make sense?”
I waited a moment to see if he would respond.
“I hope you talk with me soon, Ray. I want to help; that’s what I’m here for. When you decide you want to speak with me, you can ask an attendant to get me.”
I left him alone to think. This “acting” was easy for me, as that was what I had been trained in. It didn’t really feel any different than if I was truly speaking with a patient, besides knowing that he wasn’t.
6/8/16: Today, it seemed that my one-sided conversation with him the previous afternoon had achieved some effect. He wanted to speak with me this morning, and had a much less “rebellious” attitude compared to the previous morning. It did not seem that he was convinced in the slightest to what I was telling him, but in any case he appeared more open to the concept, if only in a cerebral manner.
“I’d like you to tell me more about why you think I’m here,” he said.
“I will tell you some,” I said, “but I do want you to think about it for yourself. Introspection about your problems can be more than just informative; it can be insightful and therapeutic as well. If you can by yourself come to grips with what you face, it will do you far more good than it could if I just told you. But I can tell you some. Perhaps it will help bring some things back into your mind.”
“You’ve been though a lot, Ray. Attempted suicide and what appears to be a sort of bipolar state. You swing from utter mania to crippling depression and back again continually. Or, I should say, you did. You still suffer from it, but after six years of work with you, we’ve helped ease some of the effects. A little over two days ago, though, you seemed to relapse, and were almost back to where you started. It seemed that was when you began creating your personal ‘reality’.”
“Why… Do you think I have this? Why do you think I have this, I will clarify. I don’t trust you on it still, in case you were thinking I did.”
“I see. Well, that’s the part I want you to work on figuring out. I’ve done my share, now it’s your turn to help yourself.”
He gave me a cold stare as I left the room. He rejected his medication that morning, but in the afternoon I got word that he had accepted it. I returned to his room that evening.
“I hear you took your pills this afternoon, Ray,” I said upon entering.
“Yes. This should help me ‘remember’ whatever it is you want me to, right?”
“It should. However, depending upon how deeply you’ve buried it, you may not. Right away, anyhow. It may take more time. But this will help your psyche relax, and hopefully open things up.”
“I see. I don’t expect anything, but I thought I’d do you this favor.”
“You don’t need to do me any ‘favors’. It’s a favor to yourself. I’m very glad you listened to me, even if you still don’t fully believe.”
He nodded, though I could tell he wanted to say “I don’t believe at all”. But this step was important, and it definitely marked progress. When the subjects got to the point of taking the drugs, two important things happened: one, it showed that they trusted and believed us to some degree, and two, it dulled their senses. They would be more easily influenced and less likely to put the pieces together especially when in contact with the other subjects. I could tell when I spoke with Ray that he was somewhat more mellowed than he had been in the past, so the drugs had taken effect.
The drugs were in no way psychosis-inducing; they were standard anti-psychotics, the same ones that would be given to regular patients in a mental institution. The experiment was to be completely dependent upon what the subjects did, nothing that we did to them besides giving them a false impression. It was likely that there would be a few among the group that would have become insane at some point in the future, but that’s why twelve were chosen. If a notable amount of them are affected, it will be conclusive. We’ll see in time.