Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Monogram Monograph: Prologue

From the papers of Dr. Paol Kruthers, dated Feb.-Aug. 1947; digitally archived as of XXX. XX, 2017. Links have been added to relevant sources to facilitate comprehension of text.

The patient was first admitted to Heathville General Hospital on August 4th, 1946 after being located by Heathville, VA local; he had previously disappeared from his home shortly after an appointment to the office of a man whom he referred to as 'Dr. Dexter' three months prior to his admission. Attempts to track down the individual known as Dr. Dexter ended in failure.

“It has taken me the last six months to properly hear the full account that the patient prepared, and while I originally intended to publish a transcript of his full account, the transcript was so full of circular repetitions of previous incidents and the like that it would have not merely been tediously lengthy but also unreadable. Fortunately, I have received permission from the Hospital to deviate from medical norm in my monograph on the patient's case and exercise my skills as a writer to pen the monograph as an informal creative piece, to better accommodate my present mental state. This monograph, thus, will also be something of a therapeutic exercise for myself, as part of my negotiations with the hospital regarding my recent professional lapses. I thank Heathville General for this permission and assure them that I will not betray their trust.

“There is no need for me to elucidate further on my own troubles. My monograph is more pressing, and of greater value to the psychiatric community—suffice it to say that Mr. Kessler may present the most fascinating instance of schizophrenia I have seen amongst the mentally troubled. His elaborate ability to conjure up entire worlds of fantastic creations beyond some of our most skilled fiction writers is almost certainly linked to his obsession with persons who are alternate incarnations of each other. I will spare any sort of thematic analysis for the end (like any good paper or story), but hearing Mr. Kessler speak reminds me of an idea that I had once—that we are all much larger than we seem to be, and that there are other people who are our components, or whom we are components of. It is moments like these that do remind me that perhaps there is something to that old saying that I am not meant to be part of the psychiatric community, but again, I digress. I should note that my journey to obtain a complete version of Kessler's story was not without challenge, as the patient spends most of his time now trapped within a coma; somehow still sustained, this endless sleep must be burdensome to him. His body is twisted in an unnatural position similar to the meditation poses of Buddhist monks—all attempts to remove him from these positions regularly have failed and the staff of Heathville General have abandoned trying.

“The monograph will be given a layer of footnotes and annotations where relevant. The narrative covers the dawn of Mr. Kessler's mental disorder, regarding his wife Virginia, and his reference to Dr. Dexter by another professional, Dr. Oliver Dran (deceased), including the patient's own elaboration of the intriguing connection between his relationship with his wife and an apparent anxious problem involving intrusive thoughts of a murderous variety. It will then move onto his journey to the 'B-Side,' and what that represents, concluding with his association with the most prominent of his other selves, 'Dr. Melcher,' and how that process allowed him to rally against the cumulative source of his delusions and anxieties, in each case documenting his alternate personae.

“Mr. Kessler's case represents more prominently than any other in my experience the important dichotomy our field seeks to solve: the minimum requisite we ask of ourselves, as medical officials, to grant hope to our patients. I wish that Mr. Kessler's case gave me hope, and that in slaying that final demon in his mind he was free of his problems. And yet unfortunately Mr. Kessler will remain our patient for some time. It has not been long since he has told me his tale, and so perhaps by the time of this monograph's publication, there will be some improvement. Nonetheless, it seems as if Mr. Kessler's intentional quest into the heart of his problems has ruined his psyche, rather than rescued it.

“And yet we must still apply our minds to the hopeless and attempt to extract some notion of rescue from it. That is the goal of academic research. With our boundless imaginations we must find a way to save ourselves from the nightmares within us, the endless hordes of bats that flutter at our psychological windows at night.”


That is good for now.

Certainly I will have more hard data to add to this prologue to provide reasoning for my “dramatization” of the life of the unfortunate Mr. Kessler. And certainly I will purge these self-referential diversions, along with the self-pitying commentary on my current employment peril. I will change nothing by botching a chanced risk.

There have been other psychiatric professionals who have fictionalized their monographs before. I just cannot cite them now because the hour is late, and I am embarrassed by wasting typewriter ink on getting sidetracked so easily.

It is time for the first draft. All of the above still stands. It's time to tell the Kessler Story.
I will annotate whatever I type up, as per my usual process—a first set of footnotes to lay the ground for the real text and its own real annotations. I should believe that I can write this with the same professionalism as my other monographs.

It is late, and rather than transform this foreword-turned-journal into an exercise in exploring what I want to discuss in this journey through Kessler's awful dreams, I find myself meditating on my own. I have already revealed in that section I wish to use that this as an exploration of my own troubles, which I do believe are at the root of my professional discord. It is difficult to examine the minds of madmen when one is going mad from insomnia oneself.

And yet if I need to cite my own experiences to complete this monograph, I will have my notebooks full of descriptions to cite. All that work spent trying to figure out what it is about bats. I keep dreaming of the bat, night after night, and I've done everything to look into it. I've looked at the etymologies of everything one can call a bat in every language that I can speak. I have studied bats in every mythology encyclopedias write of; and of course, if any one psychiatrist before me has written on interpretations of bats in the schools of Jung, Freud, or any of their contemporaries or successors, I have looked it over.

There is presumably something mundane in mankind's fear of bats. Presumably it's just the matter that our most ancient ancestors would have seen the vampiric members of their order drinking the blood of our cattle, and associated that over time with our repulsion from uncooked blood and cannibalism and the disease potential therein. Similarly, bats are denizens of the night, which holds the monsters of our caveman memory. No matter what, everywhere one goes, bats are symbols of dread, darkness, and evil. The natives of Mexico saw bats as symbols of the underworld; in most of Europe they were the familiars of witches; in Tanzania there is the bat-spirit popobawa, which chases and sodomizes innocent people. Bats are a symbol of darkness and darkness represents our fear of ourselves, our own opposition to our super-ego and obedience to our id. The underworld is our fear of death, witches our dreaded femininity, and sodomy our sexual angst. And yet I understand that someday I will die, I accept my inner femininity wholesale, and my wife and I enjoy ordinary relations. I—

It is late, and my doubts come back along with my nightmares. I have been too self-centric, as well as self-pitying and self-referential. I once more desire a career and a life. I do not know if I will achieve that.

All of this is down to the bat.

If I can kill the bat, which kills those I love in my dreams, night after night, then I can kill the bat that is the shadow over my work.

                                                                                                                                                   Part I >>

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