Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Hopeless Case

Two psychiatrists were having lunch as they often did. Their offices were in the same building, a large mental health facility. After they had exchanged the usual pleasantries one asked the other how his cases were going.

"Anything unusual?"

"Afraid not," he answered. "We get a lot of cases referred by the courts, competency judgements, the usual murderers, assault people, thieves. You know, run of the mill."

His lady companion sympathized. It gets routine after awhile, she thought. "I have a case you might find interesting. He is an old man with really bizarre obsessions, not drug related. We always check on that, first thing."

"Perhaps just senile dementia. Lot of that these days, as I'm sure you know."

"No, he checked out ok on that too, though he is at the age for that sort of thing. This one has me puzzled. I'm pretty sure his problem is not organic. His cognitive functions are not impaired, for a man his age."

The young man was an Old School Freudian--Jungian. His luncheon companion was a Behaviorist, though their methods and results tended to overlap somewhat.

"So, tell me some specifics. What kind of obsessions?"

"Well, I thought I had heard them all. We both have. This man is obsessed with food."

"Nothing too unusual about eating disorders. Is he an obsessive eater or does he try to starve himself? That's usually a problem with female clients."

"Neither," the lady replied. "He is convinced the country will soon run out of food. He can be very convincing, as objective as I try to be. He has all kinds of data too. He is very logical. He almost has me believing it! Now don't give me all that archetypal, collective unconcious stuff you people believe in."

"Well, humanity does seem to subconsciously remember famines. I raise horses and they are terribly afraid of fire, even little bonfires. I figure their ancestors escaped from forest and barn fires, and they have memories of that."

This was too much for the behaviorist lady. "Please don't add racial memory to your list of crimes against rational science. I haven't told you his delusional solution to all this starvation thing. It is weeds. He thinks there is enough nutrition in weeds to keep people alive. 'Until Jesus comes,' he tells me."

The Freudian-Jungian sat up. "This one is really serious" he said. "obviously a hopeless case."

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