Induction of Insanity, Part Three (Final)

Here it is, just on time. Sprinted through the final ~3,500 words just now, and I’m glad how it worked out. I could’ve gone any number of ways with the ending, and any number of them are… possible. I won’t just say what the truth is, though. You can decide for yourself.

 

6/11/16: The antipsychotics that Ray has been receiving are a type that require regular dosing for several days before they make their full effects, and it would seem that today is that day, which is also good for what will happen tomorrow; if they hadn’t yet reached proper plasma levels, a decrease in amount wouldn’t have been likely to elicit any reaction.
He seemed more ambivalent to what I told him today than ever.
“Have you given thought to what we talked about yesterday?” I asked upon entering.
“A good deal, yes. But mostly, I don’t know what to think any more. I cannot trust anything, it would seem, and if I cannot even trust myself, then what can I do?”
“That is a hard question, for sure. And I cannot even just say that you could trust me. For I could, theoretically, just be part of your own mind’s trickery. Either that, or you could just be making up what you ‘hear’ me say, even if I exist.”
“This isn’t helping.”
“I suppose not. But I can reassure you that this is merely a stage in your recovery. Learning that you can’t necessarily trust yourself is a crucial step in coming to reality, as contradictory as that sounds. But it’s true, and it’s important. You could count yourself lucky, even, that your path has required you to learn it. Many people never need to come to such a realization as that, living their day to day lives. They may think of it from time to time, but never need to face it in such a real way as do you.”
“I suppose. Whether or not this is all real, I will be changed by it, I’m sure.”
“Things like this always change people, and often for the better. Coming to grips with what is really true and important, unlike the small – yet seemingly important to those who deal with them – problems in the world, and in life as a whole.”
He sat still for a moment, then made a groan and stood up, pacing around the room.
“But god, it’s difficult, and I hate it. Ignorance is bliss, as they say, and I would much rather live as most do, naive of these things.”
“Many would, if given the choice. But we aren’t given a choice. I was once in a situation quite similar to your own – though not the surroundings. I was facing many of the same challenges as you, and it shaped me to what I am now, once I had just made my way through it. I trust you can do the same.”
He thanked me and returned to his thinking. I left the room, thinking as well. It felt as though, sometime recently, I had begun truly seeing him as a patient in need of help. It could have been that our test was beginning to have effects on him, or that I had merely fooled myself, in a way, into considering him as such. It wasn’t a problem, in fact, it was probably good. Sincerely acting like a therapist or psychologist when dealing with him would create an even more complete image of a mental hospital.
I met with the other researchers again around noon. We didn’t talk about anything in particular, just gave each other reports of how our “patients” were doing, and comparing results. It seemed that each of our subjects were around the same mental status, despite having different supposed illnesses. We briefly confirmed our plans for the next day, then left.
When I met with Ray that afternoon he was much as he had been the morning before. Contemplative, mellow, generally accepting of my words, and plagued with uncertainty. Despite that, though, he didn’t seem particularly in want of conversation.
As I entered, I greeted him. “Hello, Ray.”
“Hi.”
I took a seat across from where he sat on his bed. “Do you think you can do it?”
“What?”
“Get through all of this. Become stronger than you are, and stronger than most people need to be.”
“I suppose. I don’t know. That’s really becoming my motto, I guess. I don’t know. And at this point, I’d say I don’t really care.”
“I understand. Complacency and ambivalence come with realizations such as this, though it will pass, as does everything.”
He made a sound of affirmation without looking at me.
“Do you want to talk about anything with me right now?”
He turned his head to the side slightly, a small shrug. “Not really. I’m thinking, though my head feels rather… cloudy.”
“Confusion is also to be expected.” I stood up. “If you want to talk with me at any point in the future, I’ll be available. All right?”
He nodded, and I began to leave. As I was partway out the door, he looked up. “I’m trying,” he said. I nodded back at him and left without another word.
I look forward to tomorrow. It’s anyone’s guess what it will be like, but it should give us some real results, finally. It hasn’t even been a week yet, but it feels like forever.

6/12/16: This morning, Ray seemed more agitated than usual, no doubt due to the changes of the day, though, as the drug was a type that built up in the body over a period of time, I was sure that this was only the beginning.
“I don’t get it!” he said while I was walking through the door.
“What’s that?”
“Everything. God damn you, you’ve filled my head with so much doubt and question. I don’t care if it makes me stronger. I want to be like other people! I was like other people, until I met you and you started whispering your lies to me.”
“Ray, why? We had been making progress…”
“You had been making progress,” he interrupted. “Making your progress into my mind, whatever reason you have for it.”
“Are you relapsing again? I hope not. Can I help you before you undo all the… help I had given you?” I said, making sure not to say “progress”.
“Help,” he said, scorn in his voice. “Yeah. You can help me, sure. Go fuck yourself and leave me alone.”
“If that’s really what you want, I will leave. But I can’t help but feel that you really want my help. It’s my job, and if you want to talk with me again – reasonably – I’ll be here.”
“Great, if I want some psycho to talk with, I know where you’ll be. Leave.”
“All right. I’ll leave, although hesitantly.”
I left satisfied, though still a bit put off. I knew it was expected, but his changed demeanor surprised me in some ways, in particular his attitude towards me. However, I didn’t let it bother me, and instead looked forward to how the rest of today and the following days would play out.
At noon, again, we researchers met to discuss how things were going. Some subjects in particular showed changes, especially those who were on more instant-effect medications. The other researchers seemed as equally interested as I, though a bit hesitant at the same time, which I must admit I was feeling the same. It was a dangerous path to take, reaching into the minds of people and fiddling with the controls. But it was the path we had embarked on. Even if it wasn’t accepted by most people, it was something that had to be done for the advancement of mankind.
I went to see Ray again that afternoon as usual. He was standing facing the wall, his hands clenched into fists above his head, pressed against the wall.
“Do you want to talk?”
He started laughing. “I highly doubt that’s necessary at this point, Doctor Forsond. You’ve done it, you’ve broken me, I’m just little pieces in your hands that you can put together again however you like now. Happy? Why. Why?”
I kept silent, not sure how to respond.
He turned towards me. His eyes were bloodshot, and he occasionally winced and pressed on the bottom of his forehead, leading me to believe he had a headache.
“Answer me! Why? Fucking why? Why did you choose me?”
“You needed help, Ray, and…”
“No. Cut the bullcrap. Why are you specifically working with me. Assuming you’re even telling me the truth – assuming there even still is truth – why are you working with me and not someone else? Feed your lies and manipulation to someone else instead of me. I’ve had quite literally as much as I can of it, you’ve gotten to me and there’s no getting myself back from you.”
“There is no ‘why’. I work with you merely because you were who I was assigned.”
He started to speak, but caught himself and rethought his words. For that one instant his features softened, but the moment afterward, they were just as hardened by hate as they were before. He glared at me.
“Why are you still here? I told you from the start there was no reason to talk with me.”
“Again, Ray, if that’s really what you want, I’ll do it. Please keep taking your medication and going to group therapy, though. If you don’t want me to help you, I’d like you to at least try to help yourself.
“Help myself? Hah. If I could get out of here and back to my life, that would be helping myself.”
“I can’t do that, and you know why even if you don’t believe it.” I sighed briefly, then left his room.
It was surprisingly infuriating, possibly because I had succumbed to viewing him as a real patient. At this point I did want to help him, and I realized that would come in handy if the test was successful. If it worked, the subjects would likely need therapy afterward. That could very well end up the most difficult part of the experiment, telling them that it had all been a test and thereby destroying any trust we might have gained with them, or even just reintegrating them into society once we were done.

6/13/16: Wrong day, dumbass.

6/14/16: Yesterday was fun. I’m quite glad that I did end up going to group therapy. I saw all the people as usual, and they thought just as I did. We knew nothing, and we knew the doctors were liars. The nurses were liars. Everyone was a liar, even ourselves, lying to ourselves all this time, but we could’ve lived in that lie for oh so long, oh so nicely, if those damned doctors hadn’t meddled. That’s what they did, meddle and lie.
Why am I writing this down? I want it to be found, sometime, so they know what happened. What happens with meddling and lying, every time. Things go wrong when you lie.
The hospital or whatever this really is is nearly empty, except for the twelve of us and all the liars. We’re somewhere we shouldn’t be, and so are these liars.
I decided that since I was broken, David should be as well. He made it all too apparent that he had gone through the same things he put me through, so I wanted to complete that. If he intended to gloat about making his way through it, I wanted to make sure he had gone through it all. Seems some of the others felt the same.
I put David in what had been my room. He was clearly delusional and quite possibly prone to outbursts of mania, so I secured him in there with the aid of a straitjacket and chains. I don’t know how old this building is, but there was very conveniently a metal hook affixed to the wall.
“Hello, David,” I said, sitting across from him. “Did you take your medication today?”
“Ray, what are you doing?” he asked calmly.
“That’s not how you should address your doctor, David. Doctor Orthrop is what you call me, remember? But you didn’t answer the question.”
“No, I didn’t ‘take my medication’ today,” he said in a sardonic tone.
“How convenient, I brought some with me.” I opened a bottle I had brought in. “Quite a large dose of melonine, I must say, but it’s the doctor’s orders.”
I shook out five pills. “Are you going to take them yourself, or do I need to help you again?”
“Ray, that’s a…”
“Doctor Orthrop, you mean.”
“No, I mean Ray. You don’t know what that is. Melonine is a very potent antipsychotic. In excess they can cause…”
“Doctor’s orders. So I imagine you’re going to need help taking them?”
He clenched his jaw shut. I tsked at him, then walked over with a glass of water. “Doctor Anderson, could you help me? David is being uncooperative again.”
One of my fellows came in, pinched David’s nose shut and held his mouth open.
I put the pills in his mouth, poured some water in, and Doctor Anderson closed David’s mouth and kept it shut, keeping his nose pinched. I waited until I saw David swallow, then thanked Doctor Anderson for his help.
I returned to my seat and watched David.
He glared at me. “Why are you still here?”
“I’m here to talk, and to make sure you don’t try to make yourself throw up like last time.”
“Shut the hell up.”
“The medication will help you get yourself and your mood under control.”
I waited with him for about fifteen minutes. He didn’t want to talk, so I didn’t bother trying. He’s a very stubborn patient. After that, I got up to leave.
“Well, I can’t spend all my time with you. There are others who need my help.”
I saw his eyes widen. “What, you thought you were my only patient? Silly. Your ego and pride is part of your problem, but I’ll help you get through it, in time.” I smiled at him and left.
A moment later, I heard him run over to the door and start pounding. “You’ve lost it, Ray,” he said, “but I can help you. Let me and all the others out, and we can help you.”
“I can’t do that, and you know why even if you don’t believe it,” I replied while walking away.
I decided to omit the parts of my narrative that don’t pertain to David’s interesting problems, as that’s my focus in all of this. My other patients were a few of the liars that I hadn’t met before, but I work with them merely because they were who I was assigned.
When I next saw him, today, he appeared to have had a turn for the worse. He was shaking uncontrollably, probably a side effect of his medication. The entire time we talked, his voice was stuttering and hoarse. But it was all for the best. Sometimes the way to recovery is through a path much worse than the start. I’d know, as I’d been through a situation very similar to his own.
“Are you feeling better today, David?”
“Oh yes, much, Doctor Orthrop.”
I cocked my head while looking at him. “Are you lying to me, David?”
“Certainly not, doctor. What reason would I have to lie?”
“I could think of a multitude, but my main reason for thinking so is that you are, after all, a pathological liar, on top of your other problems.”
“I know, you’ve made it very clear to me. I don’t know if I would have figured it out had you not been there to help me.”
“It’s my job, David.”
“And you’re very good at it. Very insightful.”
“Thank you. But I still can’t trust you. I don’t know if I ever can. That’s why you’re in the room and I’m the doctor. But I do wish to help you.”
“How, precisely?”
“Ah, there are a few treatments that some of the other doctors and I have been discussing for you, as well as for a couple of the other patients.”
“Like what?”
“Oh, I can’t tell you that just yet. But David, desperate times call for desperate measures.”
He gave me a blank stare.
“Well, I think it’s time for your medication. Do you need my help again?”
He shook his head enthusiastically. “Good,” I said.
I shook out another five pills and handed them to him with a glass of water.
He gulped as he looked down at them in his hand, hesitation almost palpable around him. The corners of his mouth twitched, then he downed the pills and water, closing his eyes after and wincing.
“Very good.”
He began speaking, but his voice wavered and cracked. He cleared his throat and spoke again. “When can I get food?”
“I’m sorry, but we’re straight out it would seem.” I took a pretzel rod out of my pocket and chewed it slowly. “Quite unfortunate, but probably the best for you. You appear to have a lot of anxiety about food, and that could exacerbate your problems.”
The twitching at his mouth increased in violence. “I see,” he said, watching me eat the pretzel.
“I’m glad,” I said, then left him.
“Oh, one last thing,” I said, poking my head out from behind the door. “Your treatment will probably begin tomorrow. I’ll be glad to see how it goes.”

6/15/16: This building certainly seems to be quite old, and probably was used as a mental hospital, unsurprisingly. But the antiquity aided me and my fellows quite well, providing us with some stronger and more direct apparatuses for mental rehabilitation.
One such is an electroconvulsive therapy device, which as far as I knew was still in modern use. This one, however, was a much more primitive model.
And unfortunately, we were out of anesthesia.
I went to David that morning to talk with him about it. “Hello David, how are you doing?”
“Getting better all the time, I can feel it.”
“You’ll be glad to hear that we’ve found something that will likely help you in your recovery, an ECT machine.”
“Really?” I could see shock and poorly-disguised horror in his face.
“Yes. I haven’t been trained in its use, but it seems simple enough. We’ll begin shortly. But first, your medication. I assume you’ll take it yourself?”
He nodded shakily, and took the pills and water I gave him. He swallowed them with less time of hesitation than yesterday, though I could still see he was full of it. He handed me the empty glass when he was finished.
“Coincidentally, I have been trained in the use of it,” he said.
“Really?”
“Indeed. But there’s something you should know. Over… I mean, large does of antipsychotics can lower the seizure threshold, and with ECT there’s always a risk of…”
“Do you not agree there are some risks worth taking if there’s a great enough reward at the end?”
He breathed in and out, then responded. “Yes.”
“Then this is one risk you’ll have to take. Doctor Anderson, can you bring in the machine?”
I watched Doctor Anderson bring in the device on a rolling table, then asked David to take off his shirt. He obliged, and I pressed the two pads against David’s face then nodded to Anderson.
“Wait, you should put them…” A shudder ran through David’s body and his eyelids flickered. When the electrical charge had ended, he let out a moan. “That’s not where you should…”
“David, David, do I tell you how to do your job?”
He didn’t respond.
“You shouldn’t tell me how to do mine. I think w’re going to need a higher voltage, Anderson.”
David’s eyes widened, and I shifted the metal pads. I nodded to Anderson again, and the electricity pulsed through David. His arm began to convulse.
I strapped it down onto the chair he sat on, and told Anderson to do it again. David’s neck and head began to toss back and forth outside of his control. “One last time, I think,” I said to Anderson.
When the ECT session was finished, Anderson took the equipment away. “How do you feel?” I asked.
His head was still shaking, and he seemed unable to speak. “Don’t bite out your tongue, all right?” I said. “I’ll leave you now to let you recover for a bit.”
I do so hope that it will have helped him. Not much seems to be able to help David these days, and this is one of our best bets, though if he hasn’t gotten better by tomorrow, there’s something else we would try.

6/16/16: Sad to say, but it seemed that David hadn’t made any progress yet, even with the therapy we gave him the day before, nor had any of our patients. We would have to take our final step today.
We had found a set of Orbitoclasts when we had searched the building two days ago, and lobotomy seemed to be the only possible action to take at this time.
“I really do apologize that we don’t have access to any anesthesia, David,” I said upon entering the room.
David was looking worse and worse, pale skin and bloodshot eyes. I smelled vomit upon entering the room. “Why is that?” he asked, a permanent look of terror on his face.
“We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, your medication.” I handed him the pills and water and he took them with hardly a moment of dread.
“Do you think you were helped at all by our therapy yesterday?”
He stifled a mirthless laugh. “Certainly.”
“It doesn’t show, David. In fact, someone looking at you would say it made things worse for you. Tell me the truth, did it help?”
“Again, it certainly did.”
“Well forgive me if I don’t believe the one proven liar in the room. We’re going to take another step today that should help you permanently.”
“What is that?”
“Lobotomy.”
Even through his long-practiced guise of coolness, he gasped.
“Yes, it is drastic. But great rewards require great risks, and this is one that I and the other doctors have agreed upon.”
He stood up and darted towards me, arms outstretched to grab me. I pushed him aside, and called for help. Anderson and another doctor, Reichmann, came in and helped me get him under control. We put him in a straitjacket and chained him to his chair once more.
“David, why? Why do you dig yourself deeper and deeper into this hole? We want to help, and you try to attack us. Yes, lobotomy is the only thing we can do at this point.”
I put out my hand, and Anderson gave me an Orbitoclast, tarnished from age. “Again, we haven’t been trained in this – why would we, it’s an all but abandoned technique at this time – but we found books around here that told us the basics. You may not remember any of this when we’re done, David, but I’d like to tell you right now that you’ve always been my favorite patient. You’ve been intriguing and difficult to help, but a harvest cannot be reaped if you’re not willing to work the fields. And again, I apologize that we don’t have any anesthesia.”
The two doctors and I strapped his head in place so he couldn’t move while we performed the procedure and possibly harm or kill himself accidentally, though I wouldn’t put it past him at this point to try doing it on purpose.
I steadied my hands, took a deep breath, and performed the lobotomy. It was painful for him, and he passed out from the pain early on. Once it was finished, we laid him on his bed.
“Your turn, Anderson,” I said, handing him the still-bloody Orbitoclast. I think James needs your attention.”
We made our way through all the patients, each doctor dealing with their own. We left them all still unconscious around the building before leaving. We could do nothing more for them.

Induction of Insanity, Part Two

So, I realized I hadn’t written any of this in several days, and hadn’t posted any of it in even longer. Here’s the second part, and I’m hoping to finish it by… Thursday? Probably.

(Just to clarify, these “parts” are arbitrarily chosen. It’s one story, I just didn’t want to go without posting any of it for a while until I finished it.)

Yeah, Thursday. I should have it finished by then. I’m really looking forward to getting to the next story I’ve planned out, though I’m equally excited to finish this. The final part of it should be pretty interesting.

 

6/9/16: Today, several other of the patients accepted their medications; not all the same medication, of course, as each of them were “diagnosed” with different disorders to further increase the similarity to a real facility. It appeared that we were finally gaining trust with them, and those that did take their medication began group therapy that afternoon, once their defenses were down enough that we could allow them together without fear of anarchy.
When I entered Ray’s room in the morning, he had a look on his face like he was trying to remember something without realizing it, an odd blank look of confusion and mental effort.
I realized something at that moment, something we had somehow overlooked. Yes, we were treating them exactly as though they were real patients. But real patients don’t go to a mental facility to become more insane. The aim is to solve, fix, help, get through, and otherwise aid them through their illnesses. I thought, therefore, that perhaps we had done wrong in so quickly giving them drugs that would help mellow them and decrease the effects of their “illnesses”. As a result, it was highly likely that they would never develop any, and thereby defeat the experiment itself. I made a mental note to talk with the other researchers about it later that day.
“How is it going?” I asked.
“Good, I suppose,” Ray answered. “But I have further doubts about what you’re telling me, now. I’ve done what you wanted me to do; I took the drugs and tried to relax and tried to remember. But nothing. Nothing at all, except knowing even more that you’re lying to me. Knowing that the life I remember is not a defense mechanism or anything else you want to call it. It’s real, and this little ‘world’ I’m in is what’s really fake.”
“I’m sorry, Ray.”
“Sorry about what? Sorry for lying? Are you admitting it?”
“No. I’m sorry that it didn’t work, and I’m sorry that I don’t know how to help you now. I’m sorry that I must have come across badly to you, and I’m sorry that has made you untrusting of me. I want to help you, Ray, but I don’t know how I can. Can you help me in that?”
“You can help me by telling me the truth.”
“I… I wanted you to come to that on your own. But if it will help you, I will.”
“Entertain me.”
“I fear you may not find it particularly enjoyable, especially once you remember what you tried.”
“We’ll see.”
“You’ve been afflicted with your bipolarity for quite some time. It started when you were a teenager, but at that time it was quite subtle and anything noticed by anyone near you would’ve assumed it was the typical mood swings of an adolescent. Over time, it increased in severity, but you managed to cope for the most part. You immersed yourself in drugs at one point in an attempt to make yourself feel better, which it accomplished in the short-term, at the price of speeding up the growth of your disease.”
“So you’re telling me I’m an addict? This just grows more absurd the more I hear.”
“You were. Some of your family intervened at one point and forced you into rehab, and you recovered. This was, actually, one of the best times for you. The therapy and attention you received in rehab accomplished, to a degree, what we try here. What I can’t believe is that the people that attended to you somehow failed to notice your bipolarity. Once you were over your addiction, you returned home, and what had once been in remission struck back at you stronger than before. You went between states of mania and depression practically every hour, from what we could tell, each high and low getting higher and lower every time. In times of depression, you got closer and closer to danger towards yourself and others, and the mania gave you a sense that you could really do it. Then you tried. You hurt someone very close to you, and after what you realized what you had done, you were brought even closer to suicide than you had already been. And you tried it. Luckily, someone stopped you before you could finish it, and brought you here. That was six years ago. As I’ve told you before, we’ve worked with you since then and made some amount of progress, but a few days ago, something happened and you became worse than before, and took on a somewhat catatonic appearance. It would seem that, during that time, you subconsciously created this ‘normal world’ for yourself that you could lock yourself away in. Since then I’ve been working with you, and that brings us up to the present.”
“What a load of bullshit.”
“I’m sorry you’ve had to go through all of this, but that’s why I want to help you. I want you to be able to leave, and to lead a real normal life.”
“Right.”
“But I can’t do that without you helping yourself in turn. I can’t do my job unless you let me. So will you?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“And please continue taking your meds, Ray. I appreciate that gesture of trust, and it will aid the process significantly.”
“I’ll think about it,” he repeated.
“Please do,” I said, and left.
I met with the other researchers later that day to tell them what I had realized. As I spoke, several of them slowly nodded as if they ad been thinking similarly, and told me so after I had finished.
“We can’t just give them placebos, though,” said one of the researchers.
“Certainly not,” I agreed,'”but we can’t continue giving them these same doses. I’ve been thinking perhaps halving the doses, but instead of just giving them one pill when they would normally have two, give them two pills of half the previous dose. They won’t notice the difference and begin to suspect something, they’ll still be getting the drugs, and the integrity of the test will be maintained.”
The others agreed with me.
“But I think we shouldn’t do that quite yet. A few more days of the regular doses, then decrease it. The sudden change could possibly trigger any mental instability that they may develop in this test.”
“But won’t that invalidate the experiment? Because that is ‘forcing the hand’ a little more than we intended,” a different researcher said.
“Yes, to a degree,” I said, “but think to the larger goal of this experiment. We’re seeing if insanity is possible for anyone, or if it’s only specific people it affects. We aren’t testing if it can be induced in a setting such as this; that’s just how we’re presenting it to the subjects as a believable environment.”
The psychologist who had just spoken nodded in understanding, and I looked around the room to see if the others agreed as well. “Does that sound good?” I asked.
All but one of the researchers agreed, and the last one wasn’t directly opposed; she just didn’t fully agree with me on my view of the focus of the test. The decision had been made, and we would decrease their doses in two days.
When I visited Ray that evening, it was evident to me that he had taken his pills earlier. He had a slightly placid look on his face and spoke freely with me. Before I said anything, he spoke.
“Do you know the feeling when you aren’t sure if a memory is real or in a dream?”
“I believe so.”
“A sort of wonder whether what you think is true was just a thought or something you imagined?”
“Yes.”
“I have that feeling right now, stronger than ever before.”
“About what?”
“Everything. My supposed past that you’ve told me, as well as my own reality. I have the same feeling in an equal measure for both of them, and don’t know what’s real any more. Or, I guess, they feel equally real.”
When he had said “my own reality”, I had raised my eyebrows, partially as a physical communication of interest and partially as actual surprise. Even if it was just a slip-up, a phrase used in the moment without the subtle implication, it was significant. It could be evidence of a deeper conviction. He didn’t seem to notice my reaction, though.
“That could be good,” I said.
“How?”
“It could mean that your mind is starting to open up. Once that happens, your recovery can begin.”
“But it doesn’t really feel like that. It feels like you planted the idea in my mind and my mind accepted it and began making it feel real, though it isn’t.”
“Ray, I don’t want to be so blunt, but you are really being very stubborn about this. Every time that there’s evidence you’re beginning to realize the truth, you try to come up with some excuse for it. That saddens me. Do you not want to get better? Do you not want to get out of here and live your own life? Make your own reality?”
“Of course I do. But if that means I have to be brainwashed by you, or even just blindly accept anything you tell me, I’d have to think twice.”
“I understand. But does that necessarily mean you have to reject everything I tell you?”
He hesitated. “No.”
“Then please don’t. My job is to help you, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
He exhaled through his nose and nodded, his eyes on the ground. I looked at him for a moment, then left the room. I was getting there, bit by bit, but damn, this was hard.

6/10/16: Ray seemed relatively docile and accepting of my words today. Whether it be due to the drugs or if he’s beginning to consider what I’m saying – or both – it’s good news. Talking with the other researchers, it sounded as though their subjects were acting similarly. One more day before their drug doses would be decreased and we’d hopefully start seeing responses to the test, but having them more submitting to us was an important first step before that happened. Who knew, perhaps we would truly need to help them after whatever happened. It was a possibility we had considered thoroughly and prepared for in advance.
When I spoke with Ray that morning, he told me had been thinking.
“About what?” I asked.
“A lot of things. I’ve been thinking about how I know what I ‘know’. I’ve been thinking about how I ‘know’ what you say isn’t true. I’ve been thinking about how I can ‘know’ you’re trustworthy, or how I can ‘know’ you aren’t.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Ray.”
“I have decided that I will listen to what you say, even if I don’t want to, or don’t agree with it. That doesn’t mean I will accept it, but I’ll listen and think about it. Memories are very moldable things and prone to modification. I don’t know if you’ve been doing the modification, or if I have been. There’s no way to know, I guess. There isn’t really any way to know anything.”
“That’s true. But I know a lot of other people here who can back up what I’m saying.”
“How can I know you just haven’t told them to say certain things? If you’re going to back up what you say with other people, I could just as easily back up what I say with people from my life.”
“If that’s really your life, that is. If they aren’t just characters you’ve created in your mind. The people I mention are here in this building, just like the nurses who give you your medicine and lead group therapy. But more than just them; doctors that have watched you while you’re here.”
“But that just leads back to not knowing if you’re all playing along to some game.”
“Why would we?”
“Does it mean, just because I can’t answer that, that it isn’t true?”
“Not necessarily. But does it mean it is true?”
“Not necessarily, again. It just boils down to not knowing anything at all, really. I don’t know if I can trust you, and I don’t know if I can trust myself.”
“That’s a very good step in and of itself,” I said, “even if the uncertainty doesn’t feel like progress. Most people immediately trust themselves and their perception of things before anything else, which can either be good or bad. When your own memories and senses betray you, it can be dangerous. I’m glad you’ve come this far, and I’m here to help you in any way I can as you proceed.”
He nodded and sat down on his bed, seeming to be surrounded in thought. Without another word I left him alone to think.
Day by day, we were getting closer, and speeding up in our progress as we went. And I was certain that it would come to a climax in a few days. I could hardly wait.
That afternoon when I went to visit him, he appeared to be asleep. Either asleep or resting, mulling over what I had told him whether consciously or not. That suited me fine, as pressing the matter too much without giving him enough time to process it all could be harmful to what we were attempting. I left, closing the door as quietly as I could so as to not disturb him. The next day I would have enough time to talk with him more.

 

 

Induction of Insanity (Part One)

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.”
“I don’t.”
“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?”
“What?”
“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.”
“Alright.”
“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’.”
“But why?”
“Why what?”
“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.