Strangers in My Head
"Know thyself? If I knew myself, I would run” -Goethe-
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… A psychiatrist, a neurologist, and a priest were sitting in my brain having a few drinks when a clown walks in with a duck on his head. The setting was very casual, as it was in my brain, and my brain has always been a very casual place. The psychiatrist was wearing a “Wizard of Id” tee-shirt with khaki shorts.The neurologist had on jeans and a tank-top under what looked like a NASCAR jacket, but the sponsorship patches were from pharmaceutical companies, and the priest wore jogging pants and a “Tickle me Elmo” sweat… not familiar? Good.
When the clown walked in, the trio was discussing a series of disturbing episodes the brain had experienced in the past few months. While the psychiatrist was trying to offer an explanation pertaining to a lapse of cognitive function, the neurologist argued that the episodes were due to more of a cerebral malady…the priest, naturally, placed the blame on the absence of theological guidance.
If I may, let me bring you up to date. Four months ago, I had a minor stroke. While this is nothing to be taken lightly, as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a warning sign, there are no noticeable signs of any permanent damage. Blood tests showed a high rate of bad cholesterol, which is said to be the main contributor in such cases. Blood thinners were prescribed; I have changed my diet and lost ten more pounds. After the stroke, I started a new position at my job where I found myself to be working a six day 60 hour workweek. I was tired. I tried, in vain, to place a two-day weekend in a four-hour span of my one day off a week. This resulted in a couple of unfortunate experiences, where my equilibrium was found to be not up to task.
The clown fixed himself a drink and made himself comfortable on the right hemisphere hippocampi.
This action infuriated the three wise men, most noticeably the neurologist, who jumped up from his spot on the thalamus screaming, “Are you mad, man!” “Have you not looked around and seen the structural damage on this vessel which houses this magnificent organ?” His arms were flailing as he went on. “Do you not notice the healed fractures on the occipital, parietal, and zygomatic sections resulting from blunt head trauma? As you passed the tympanic membrane; did you not see the signs of a previous rupture?
The good doctor’s eyes took on the appearance of madness as he went on. “You dare to traipse in here, like a lunatic…with waterfowl on head, and interrupt our symposium…do you not realize the severity of damage you may cause if you delay us in our diagnosis?”
The clown sat motionless, with a bright red smile and sky blue tear beneath his eye. The doctor, satisfied that he might have reached the intruder, smugly turned his back and said “be off with you then.”
The clown stood up, and while placing the duck between his feet, retorted…”My good doctor!”
The doctor reeled and shouted “Be gone fool, we have no time for child’s play.”
The clown, undeterred, now spoke in a more dominant tone. “My good doctor, you speak of child’s play, but is that not what you indulge in here? You reference past wounds that you know nothing of, but make no mention of the one for which you, yourself, are responsible. In your haste, you severed nerves, beyond repair, which would receive commands from the primary motor cortex, thus inhibiting the body’s motor skills…you cut the crucial hands from an artist, then proudly proclaimed ‘Behold, he walks!’ In the age of lasers, you wipe the blood from scalpel and hone your craft oblivious to collateral damage you might inflict. And now you dare to offer a prognosis on subconscious actions you know nothing of. You are master of your craft, however, your craft is limited, and not without uncertainty. Your knowledge of the central nervous system is well advanced among your peers, but primitive, when compared to that system’s complexities.”
The clown stooped down to give the duck a cracker, and then continued. “Your profession is in its infancy, your knowledge of the human brain runs akin to what alchemists and bloodletters knew of science and the human body centuries ago, your prescriptions and treatments are nothing more than modern day leeches, and your payment should be in fools-gold.
The doctor stood there shaking, his knees felt weak, as he thought to himself “Who is this…this, clown, and how is it he chastise me so?” The clown took a step towards the doctor, and as he did, his large bowtie spun around and a stream of water sprayed from the flower on his lapel, onto the doctor’s face.
The psychiatrist, who was sitting on the frontal lobe, stood up and applauded. “Bravo, bravo!” He let out a small chuckle, then said, “My good, dear clown, what astute observations you make, a better argument I would be hard pressed myself to formulate. You seem to have an eerily perplexing familiarity with this brain and body; I see you’ve done your homework.”
He then turned to the neurologist and said. “My esteemed colleague, while surely, I’ll admit, these ancient wounds are cause for concern, but in no way can I agree that these unfortunate incidents are responsible for the series of mishaps that have befallen this poor soul as of late. While you look at the physical scars, as our sage clown suggests, you ignore the obvious. Our poor host suffers from a dysfunctional behavior condition. Emotionally, he is overwhelmed. Repressed feelings of emotional and physical torment, along with other abandonment concerns, dictate his cognitive behavioral patterns. Rather than adjusting to things around him and modifying his beliefs, his distorted thinking drives him towards alcohol and drugs in order to rationalize his own existence and deal with his own feelings of inadequacy.”
As the psychiatrist was about to sit down, he smiled at the clown, who smiled back and offered him a cigar. Satisfied with his argument, he turned to the clown, who was offering a light, and was about to suggest therapy (with regards to the duck and clown attire), when the cigar blew up in his face.
The clown now had the undivided attention of his newfound peers.
“Your theory (he said speaking to the psychiatrist), my misguided friend, is not unlike that cigar, and the results are the same. You cite dysfunctional behavior, dysfunctional by whose standards, yours. Or societies? Repressed feelings? Do we not all repress feelings at times? Imagine a world where all feelings were expressed and dealt with in full accordance. We haven’t enough prisons to hold three quarters of the worlds population. Feelings of inadequacy? What, my good doctor brought you to your very profession? Did you not feel inadequate at times? Did you not set out to understand your own motivations and misgivings? Do you not rationalize your own existence every day, with every patient in your practice? Is the term ‘reverse transference’ familiar to you?” You imply that distorted thinking drives him towards drugs and alcohol. Do you yourself not prescribe sedatives and anti-depressants? Alcohol and hallucinogens have been around for centuries, and in many cultures, important tools in social and religious functions. This is what is wrong with your Western philosophies, you are open to new and radical ideas, no matter what the risk, given there is a profit margin. Yet you shun ancient practices that have survived for centuries because you deem them primitive.
The psychiatrist sat there sobbing, with his head in the palms of his hands while the clown offered him a cigar.
The priest, who all this time was listening, but exploring the temporal lobe, now saw his opportunity. “My children,” he said, with a reassuring smile, “why do we bicker? We all know there is no exact science, or philosophy. We are but simple humans on God’s earth. If this child’s brain has become deranged, it is no fault of any of ours, or his. It is the Lords doing, and the Lord has purpose for doing so. He has for so long been estranged from the church, let us work together to wash this anger from his brain. We can leave in this brain a few subliminal reminders of the goodness in this world, if he were just to give himself to God.”
The clown, upon the priest’s conclusion, applauded, and handed him a balloon he had twisted into the shape of a bunny.
“Father, forgive me, but here is the rabbit of which you seek. This child’s brain is not deranged, nor is it angry. This child has not forsaken god, but rather, abandoned the hypocrisies your religions teach. Does the god of your church condone the intolerance of which you preach? You speak of inexact science, am I to expect that your scriptures are to be proven by Theo-logic method? Are you kidding me? You use the name of god to justify whatever it is that propels you to your own advancement. You perpetuate fear, hatred, genocide, and intolerance for your own personal gain. You preach the word of the Profits, and profit through that sermon. You are the sole instigator of genocide on this planet. You fueled the minds of Hitler and Bin Laden and their likes with your rhetoric. You instill worthless values into young and feeble minds to build your armies. You are the cause and reason, of and for, every plague in the Bible. You have soiled and adulterated every entity you have come in contact with, for your own hatred…in the name of god! You are brothers, the sons of Abraham…Christians, Muslims, and Jews. And while you subjugate the religions that came before you, you plagiarize their tenets. You have overstepped your boundaries, and that child could not live with that encroachment. He abandoned you, because you are corrupt. You burned his mother at a stake, and yet, he still asks god to forgive you. But I am just a clown, like you. I know nothing more than what I see before me. I see three clowns and a duck.”
The clown was tired, and couldn’t find the duck. He turned to the three esteemed gentlemen and apologized. “Let me explain myself.” a genuine tear fell from his face now. “Years ago, there was a toy box. The toy box was full of toys. A small and sickly child was first in line to receive a toy, he let all the other children go ahead of him. By the time he got to the box, the only toy that was left was me. The cowboy was taken, the army man gone, the astronaut…well, I guess he never aimed that high, but none-the-less, he took me even though it was not a clown he wanted, he loved me. He and I became the best of friends. That’s why I’m still here…in his brain, because he loved me, even though I couldn’t love him back. I am his repressed memory, the toy that took the place of something he wanted but couldn't have. A Pygmalion example of human frailty.
There is no time in the subconscious mind, so, who’s to say how long the arguments went on. A violent tremor occurred and startled the three guests. The priest screamed, “It’s the Rapture,” While the two doctors held onto one another and professed their love. The clown had found his duck; it had laid eggs. He turned to the three and said, “Nothing to fear my friends, I’ve been through this before, he’s waking up…it’s just a brain fart, I think it’s time you leave.
A tiny car pulled up, the psychiatrist, neurologist, and priest piled in and drove off towards the medulla oblongada. The duck had ducklings who grew to love clowns, the clown remained in the folds of the cerebellum; he was happy there...and they all lived happily ever after.