My therapist thinks I’m paranoid. At least, I think she thinks I’m paranoid. I discuss perfectly reasonable conspiracies against me, and she leans back in her chair, her fingers entwined, and keeps as expressionless as possible. Hmmm… That’s what she’s thinking. Hmmm… I can hear the hmmm from across the room. In the recesses of her mind, there is a bespectacled, white-bearded man making notes.
The God who exists in all clinical psychologists, he is chewing a cigar in his mouth as he jots down on his note pad. Writing suddenly and furiously at certain moments when I share something deeply revealing about my psyche.
Paranoid personality, with delusions of persecution. Propensity to experience minor psychosis, with some risk of snowballing into a full-on manic episode. Must watch him carefully, perhaps contact the relevant authorities if he mentions opening a motel with his mother.
“What?” she asks, in response to my own hmmm.
“You went hmmm. You were making notes in your mind.”
More notes are written. More hmmms are hmmmed.
“It’s interesting that you think that.”
Well, it’s a good point. The whole question about her maybe thinking I’m paranoid (I know she was thinking that, I just know it!) is really my curiosity about… me…
So I ask her, sneakily: “It’s not just psychiatrists who get to make a diagnosis, but clinical psychologists too, right, you’re like honouree MDs, the MCs of mental disease, right?”
She smiles at my pseudo hip-hop flow, but it’s to get her guard down. Bro.
“Yes, we are.”
“Also,” I say as I lay the trap and cover it with branches, “As a professional in the mental health world, you’re required to give whatever diagnosis you arrive at to your client… if they ask for it, right?”
“Is there a reason you…”
No diversions. I know these Children of Freud, Skinner, that archetypical guy, and Ainsworth and their secret tricks.
“Yes or no, please.”
“Yes, it’s true, we are.”
“I hereby formally request that you release the diagnosis to me.”
She pauses for a moment. Looks at me, quizzically.
I know what’s coming – I’m waiting for it with a counter-attack encamped on my tongue.
“Why is a diagnosis so important to you?”
“Irrelevant. I want it. You have it. I request it. Is there paper work required? I brought my pocket pen for form filling.”
She smiles. She knows I do this sort of thing. Get something in my head, and refuse to let go. I want the knowledge that the Order of the Clinical Psychologists rather not reveal.
Why? Because this is dangerous knowledge, not intended for the uninitiated. I could never be a clinical psychologist. They delve into the depths of the mind – and how could you not turn your mind’s eye around and examine your own inner workings? The dysfunctions and the delusions, the mechanisms, the way we are marionettes to influences of our social grouping – the psychic distresses caused by group-think… hysteria and madness, we’re just a thin veneer of civility. It takes nothing more than war for us to ravage and gorge like barbarians from the recesses of ancient Germany – a mind, a single mind, capable of plumbing into abject insanity, (cruelty!), when momentous stresses flay the f#ck out of its congruency.
For example, I’m one bad day away from flak canons and kamikaze katana charges on my totally aggressively useless bank, when their sheer incompetence (bordering on felony) prohibits my attempts to restore basic operational functionality to my debit card – and all they can do, repeatedly, is tell me everything is working on their side…
…the world swirls, because if this became the norm, all society would crumble under the sheer frustration-induced manic rage, and the cities would be burnt out shells with ghostly skyscrapers wrecked like withering skin on the bones of a corpse awaiting service at MotherBeeping Bank, Ltd.
There is only one group of men and women who have the fortitude to withstand the most extreme stresses, whose minds stand tall while others run around screaming pure lunacy, and when we need them, as we emotionally-crippled crazies hop along the pandemonium of life, they carry us as their capes flap heroically in the wind.
These are The Clinical Psychologists.
Elite like the navy seals or delta force, only the few, the brave, and sort-of-proud make it through to study clinical psych during the course of their psychology degree.
But they must first make it past The Trials.
Which are tougher than a 150km one-day death march. I have it on good authority that they’re tested to see how much their minds can handle… by being airdropped into Paola New Jung, those distant Pacific islands in the middle of The Devil’s Starfish Seas – notorious for storms that can rend skin from a golem and sink dreadnaught battlecruisers on a bad day. There these clinical psych hopefuls spend time with the most savage, dangerous tribe the world has ever seen. The Idh.
Far-flung from civilisation, they partake in brutal war bands that raid against mountain goat-like penguins; witness the gruesome ritual of penissoufflaie (which I won’t go into for the sake of our sensitive readers, but involves a form of unspeakable cannibalism); engage in shamanistic skull-shower dances; eviscerate local wildlife and decorate each other with the entrails. And, finally, do unspeakable acts to a gargantuan gum tree called O’ ral-hfux aishun. Crudely translated as: Bad Touch.
It is so horrific, those without the psychological fortitude of steel go brittle and break, and end up sacrificed to the Volcano God Anu laratent-af.
Needless to say, the flight home has a far more spacious cabin.
But the few who withstand the insanity are forged into a true mental health fighting force. They are now ready for their training back at varsity to become master healers of the mind.
I’m proud to say I have one of them as my drugs-and-alcohol addiction councillor. (Although I make sure not to chew gum in her office.) Houghton House is privileged to have her as one of their team. Then again, the entire team love what they do and have the kindness and relentless attitude to go out of their way every day to help any of their patients – most especially those going through a tough time both in and out of Houghton’s walls.
Perhaps that’s why she didn’t want to give me my diagnosis – she considered it counter-productive for me to know. Maybe even harmful, psychically.
But I wanted it anyway.
In my psychologist’s therapy room, I sit, expectantly, for my diagnosis.
“Why do you have to know?” she asked.
“I want to know what I am.”
She sighed. “Alright.”
“You’ll tell me?” I felt excited and scared at the same time. Like a boy on Halloween – not Christmas – morning waiting to open a gift-wrapped box about big enough to hold a human head.
“Yes, but it’s not a full diagnosis, it’s just some thoughts,” then she suddenly smiled. “Promise me you won’t Google this like crazy!”
“I am crazy.” I grinned back. “I promise anyway.”
“Alright,” she responded.
“So… what is it? What do you think?”
She paused for a moment, then said:
“I think you’re paranoid.”
Photo: The MCs of Psychology from left to right: Carl Jung, B.F Skinner, Mary Ainsworth, and Sigmund “the Slip” Freud. Designed by J.D from various elements “borrowed” from the web