Thursday, June 24, 2004

A Lobster on your arm

Let me tell you about John. (Check out previous posting) John came to me one night and told me he used to be the chief engineer for the Saudi Hydro Electric power project. Hello? Plenty oil, not much water. So he let me in on his latest project which he couldn’t understand why no one would let him go ahead with it. That is to flood the entire Nene valley and make it into a huge water park for boating and such like. I pointed out that if he did that Peterborough and more importantly where he lived would be under twenty foot of water.
Another John would walk around with his fore arm stretched out in front of him. He had a lobster resting on his arm. If he dropped his arm the Lobster would fall off. No one could see the Lobster but we all knew it was there. I asked him one day if it ever fell off when he took off his coat. He looked at me incredulously. “No of course not. It just dematerialises for a second then comes back.”
“Doesn’t it get tiring having to hold your arm up like that all the time so the Lobster won’t fall off?”
“It’s a fucking pain.” He said.
“So why don’t you just shake it off?”
“It would be really pissed with me.”
“But it’s just a lobster.”
“They bite you know.”
“Yes I know.” I replied
“Do you want a really pissed Lobster biting you?”
“No I guess not but surely you can run away from it when you’ve shaken it off?”
“No it just comes back and it’s really pissed and angry and then it hurts me so I have to be careful with it.”
I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand the schizophrenic mind. They have logic that is totally illogical but real to them. Another John said to me one night “Can you come back tomorrow and walk with me to the post office?”
“Why?”
“Because they all laugh at me.”
“Who laughs at you?”
“Everyone. And I don’t know why. So if you came with me you can tell me if they really are laughing at me or not. I need to get my money but I can’t if everyone is laughing at me.”
“I’m sure they’re not. Perhaps they’re just smiling at you to be friendly.”
“But I can’t tell. I get nervous and the voices tell me things.”
“Like what?”
“That they are laughing at me. So will you come with me tomorrow? Please!”
You could almost weep for him. We take it for granted that we do what we do. But these guys hear voices and have strange ideas that they can’t explain themselves. To them it’s real. To us they’re crazy. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. They have medications to control the extremes and mostly they work, except for some it leaves them very tired, lethargic and unable to function properly.
I got into trouble a while back. Giving my guitar lessons a couple of the inmates started refusing their “meds”. The duty officer came to me and said “Have you been telling them that this is music therapy?”
“No. Why?”
“Because they claim they don’t need their medication because they’ve had music therapy instead. So could you emphasise that you are not giving them any therapy, you’re just giving them music lessons.”

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