Imagination Without Limits

22 Jan

“Every world, every planet on our galactic tours has its own surroundings and environment, its own culture and way of life,” declared Dr. Edo Tlag. “Is it any great wonder that they display such a broad range of mental disorders?”

The staff of the traveling psychiatric clinic listened attentively to their small but dominant director as their ship entered orbit around the planet named Tangentum. A new, unfamiliar population of mental patients was about to be transported up to them for therapeutic treatment.

“We have to be ready to deal with anything that this location might send to us for diagnosis and alleviation,” advised the head of the mental vessel.

A transporter barque carried that first two dozen patients from the planetary surface, through the stratosphere, up to the clinic ship in orbit.

A psychiatrist native to Targetum, familiar with the cases, accompanied the persons chosen as having major problems in need of outside attention and intervention. These were individuals who could not be helped back on their home planet.

Svim Pruj was a corpulent figure with golden hair and cloudy gray eyes. He met with Director Edo Tlag within minutes of reaching the clinic ship. He began speaking with energetic self-confidence once he was seated in the top executive’s small office.

“Targentum possesses an unusually high number of cases that can be classified as psychotic,” he said with alarm. “No one on planet has been able to explain why our planet is plagued with serious mental illnesses. Why is our population so vulnerable? We have studied genetic matters and environmental factors, but no clear connections have ever been discovered.

“Our hope is that your ship’s experience across the galaxy with cases from a variety of circumstances can be of benefit to those who suffer in our world.”

Edo grinned warmly. “Our record is one that we are proud of, Doctor. Whatever we have established as useful, I promise you we shall apply to those you have brought with you up here.”

The first patient assigned for personal attention to Director Tlag was a severely delusional male named Byen Sikum. Dr. Svim Pruj provided the psychiatrist who had dealt with patients in numerous regions of the galaxy with the medical records of this individual. After studying these in detail, Edo set up an appointment with Byen in his own therapeutic chamber.

Doctor and patient sat facing each other across a long metalline table.

“I understand that you claim to have a close companion who looks like you and acts like you. Is this someone who is your twin brother, Byen?”

The latter smiled enigmatically. “Since I happen to be the only person my friend appears to, no one knows him in the slightest degree. He is my companion, always with me, and I share him with no one else.”

“Have you had this companion present with you all your life?” inquired Edo.

“What do you think? Why do you ask me such stupid questions? I suspect that your aim is to make me look crazy, like that other doctor who talked with me for so long a time.”

“Are you referring to Dr. Pruj, the one who treated you on Targetum?”

Byen’s face reddened as he became obviously angry. “Don’t pretend to me that you don’t know what that faker was. He was not a real doctor, but a paid actor pretending to be a psychiatrist. I saw through his disguise and he didn’t fool me in the slightest.” He gazed at Edo with suspicion. “Are you an actor too?”

The patient appeared to lose his train of thought. He began to stutter, making abrupt, sudden pauses. A rambling babble erupted from his voice box, that seemed to be no longer his. Soon, he was failing to finish his sentences in terms of complete thoughts.

“Let us stop and take a rest, Byen,” decided Dr. Tlag. “We can continue this another time.”

Edo discussed the patient he had seen and talked with when he next saw Svim Pruj at the ship dining room a few hours after the therapeutic session.

“I was surprised at how strong his beliefs in his companion are,” said the Director. “He permits no one to voice any doubts about his double. I call it that because I concluded that this friend was an exact mirror copy of himself.”

Svim frowned. “Byen has definite suicidal strains deep within him. These come out if there is any threat or criticism of the imagined companion. He will express a fear that his twin self is compelling him to destroy himself. That will be necessary, Byen believes, should his companion wish to die himself because of how other persons treat him.

“Byen is extremely protective and defensive of his imagined friend.”

“It will be difficult to convince this patient of changing what he thinks about his fantasy,” said Edo with a moan.

“I have been unable to make any transformation in the man,” confessed Svim. “Perhaps you will have better results here at your clinic.”

Edo made no further comment after hearing that hope expressed.

The second patient that the Director saw and examined was a young woman called Sia Garno. She was short and surprisingly attractive, but showed signs of disturbance as soon as she began answering the questions presented her by Edo.

“Would you term yourself happy or unhappy, Miss Garno?” the galactic psychiatrist asked her in a cool but friendly tone.

“I do not live a satisfied life at all. Look at how I am treated! My doctors can’t decide what to do or how to make me better, so they fly me up here into space, away from the planet that I love, dear Targetum. It is terrible what those monsters have done to me. And they try all they can to do away with my special ability. But I am too smart for them, and I won’t let anybody get away with it. I mean to keep doing what I have been carrying out on my own.”

“Tell me about this capability of yours,” pleasantly said the psychiatrist. “I am very interested in learning all I can about what it is.”

He smiled at her across his desk, recalling what he had read in her case history about the young woman’s unusual delusion.

Sia lowered her voice to nearly a whisper. “I hear electronic messages in my brain. It began when I was only a little girl. Wire communications and radio broadcasts became perfectly audible to me. Cable and microwave signals revealed themselves in their full content. Nothing that I focused my thinking on has ever been hidden from me.

“I know everything that people say to each other. My knowledge is as complete as possible. That means that I know everything that any person ever says about me. There are nasty, horrible rumors in circulation about me out there on Targetum, Doctor. I know the truth about how the psychiatrists down there on my planet happen to be conspiring against me.

“They want to have me labeled as crazy. But I know it is all a plot against me, to have me killed and destroyed. You see, they know that I hear everything they say about me on wire or over the air. I know all their vicious lies.

“You must tell them the truth. I am a gifted individual who can pick up and learn all that is transmitted and sent down there at home.

“I am now listening to what goes forth over the phones you people use up here on this so-called mental clinic that roams through the galaxy.”

Edo interrupted the rambling patient. “Are you the only person on Targetum with this extraordinary talent, Sia?” he asked her.

The latter made an angry grimace. “Of course. It is mine and only mine. Are you doubting what I am, Doctor?” She looked at him with suspicion. “Are you in league with those tormentors? Are you part of the conspiracy down on the planet?”

The session soon finished with confusion on both sides.

Edo met with Svim shortly after Sia was escorted back to her compartment.

“In all my visits to numerous colonies in various regions, I have never encountered any case similar to that of Miss Garmo. Her illness has a very peculiar focus on overhearing electronic communications. I don’t see any cause for this strange feature of her illness.”

Svim frowned. “I believe that she is fascinated with secrecy and breaking into what is intended to be concealed. Sia thinks that she can find out what others say and think about her behind her back.

“It is similar to cases in which a patient believes that he or she can read the mind of other persons. The common thread seems to be finding out what is concealed behind a wall of some kind. That makes the subject of the delusion feel that they have an imagined identity inside themselves. They feel, then, that they know who they are. But that in itself is a secret that they sense is in danger from persons who are their enemies.

“Does that make any sense to you, Dr. Tlag?”

The latter made a sad smile. “We have to figure out how to treat Sia for her illusion of special mental powers,” he declared.

The first two patients he had met and examined gave Edo a feeling of inevitable defeat. How was he to find solutions for such terrible psychoses as these? he asked himself over and over. They were cases unlike the others he and his staff had faced in dozens of other planetary systems. Targetum had unique difficulties in the minds of its population needing treatment promised by his galactic-level clinic.

The third case assigned him by Svim Pruj was a man named Xop Kulo who suffered major illusions of grandeur.

Edo listened with focused interest to the proud declaration by the tall, skinny middle-aged patient.

“The doctors who have tried to convince me that I am mistaken in self-evaluation are conscious tools of my political enemies. The small elite that runs Targetum has blocked me from winning one of the high offices of the government. Their goal is to compel me to surrender by giving up my ambition for power. That would be a tragic defeat for my hundreds of thousands of faithful followers. But I know that my disciples and believers still remain loyal to me, despite what the psychiatrists of the planet tell them. They spread false rumors in order to attempt to limit my authority over those who are my followers.”

Xop looked deeply into the eyes of Edo Tlag. “Are you a person brought in by our planetary psychiatrists to try to frustrate the mass movement that I have organized to follow me? Are you a stranger conspiring with the doctors who are conspiring to destroy the secret power that I enjoy?”

The Director of the clinic felt the pressure of the excited patient’s fiery eyes as they glared at his own.

“We had better take a recess and meet again another time,” finally said Edo.

Yop Kulo had a scheme in the back of his mind.

He found Byen Sikum in the media and library room of the ship that was open to the patients and he explained what he was planning to accomplish.

“There are at least two dozen patients on this vessel, all brought here from Targetum for further indoctrination through the brain-molding carried out by the psychiatric profession everywhere in our galaxy. But I have figured out a way to thwart their evil cabal.

“We must organize ourselves into a revolutionary network so that a rebellion can be mounted to take over control of this ship.

“Once I have control of everything onboard, we can proceed to set our own terms and dominate what goes on. These psychiatrists can then no longer treat us the way they do. We will be the bosses, they will have to serve us.

“I intend to make myself the Director of the entire clinic out here in space. The entire planet down below will have to listen to what I tell them.”

Byen grew excited. “What will I have to do?” he asked.

“Go around and take this message to any other patient you come in contact with. We have to recruit as many persons as possible into this movement of mine.”

Edo had a scheduled session with Sia Garno at which the patient who claimed to be able to receive messages and thoughts from outside surprised him by taking control of their conversation from the first moment.

“I have something to tell you,” she began. “One of the other patients aboard talked to me in private. He attempted to recruit me into a group activity that I find very suspicious. It was the man called Byen Sikum who cornered me and revealed what is going on here on this ship.

“There is a dangerous man known as Xop Kulo among us. I doubt that is his real name, though. He wants to take over this clinic vessel. The man is an evil schemer. I hear his thoughts from his very brain. What he intends to accomplish is no secret to me.

“This Xop Kulo is a tool of Dr. Pruj, his planetary psychiatrist. The real aim of the conspiracy is to bring Svim Pruj to power on this ship. We patients from Targetum are to be the stepping-stones to a new ruling system among all the persons aboard.”

She leaned forward over the table between them. “I think you should defeat such a nefarious conspiracy, Dr. Tlag. “Don’t allow Xop Kulo to elevate Dr. Pruj to the position you hold.

“That would be horrible for every one of us.”

Edo sighed, extending his right arm and placing his hand on hers.

Svim was preparing to go to bed when the was a knock on his compartment’s door. It was the Director who stood there.

“I have an unfortunate notice to give you, my friend. Our clinic has only minutes ago been summoned to return to our home base in this region of the general galaxy. There has been some kind of emergency situation there that needs our immediate attention, as soon as we can make the voyage there.”

The two psychiatrists stared at each other. Svim swayed a little from the unexpected shock he was experiencing. “I don’t understand…” gaped the doctor from Targetum.

“You and all the patients from your planet will be immediately taken down to your home planet. I am very sorry that such a tragic event has fallen upon all of us.”

Edo, as if ashamed of what was happening, turned around and walked away at a vigorous pace.

Svim Pruj, searching for some action to occupy his attention, began to visit and prepare the patients from Targetum for their unexpected departure from the clinic and return homeward.

Within hours, every visitor from the planet was gone and the ship was hurrying back into space.

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