“Daniel’s Psychiatrist Practice” was a simple affair of two people. He guided and Della, his wife, did the complex tasks of scheduling sessions, recording, researching and routinely contradicting him. They did not take up any case unless the patient agreed before every session, to go through two drills of 15 minutes each. The first drill was dubbed as “on keyhole horrors” followed by “playing the dead” – relaxing on the carpet, eyes closed. They were called the “daft doctors” in some quarters but they had a method that worked for those who wanted to make life work for them.
“Namita has double pain. Harassed by a top shot guy in her firm, she was shunted when she complained. A divorced, working mother, staying alone, attractive – she has big issues.”
“Sex, love, work; packed in a female. Della; ready for explosion.”
She had poise, knowledge about wearing what would look good on her, persuasive voice and melting cat eyes. And she looked for those appreciative warming up reactions from people in her first meet.
Della explained, “In that cubicle, you will see three situations. You will then relax in the adjoining room on the floor carpet; the earphone instructions will tell you not to sleep but concentrate on your reactions to the three situations. We, then, hear you talk about it.”
Namita went through the two drills and returned to the office-like room facing the two curers; and she cried. Looking at her, the two curers agreed on their first assessment. “Ready to explode.”
“It seemed so real; are you both actors?” was Namita’s first response. She had watched the three situations enacted by the doctors themselves. Daniel got up and wrote on the board the word, “ACTORS. Seeing no further reactions, she continued…
“The experience of lying down on the carpet was unique. Those three situations haunted me as I had only to reflect on them; actually your faces and voice enacting, brought tears while lying down. There were so many strong emotions in their exchanges.” The word EXCHANGES was put up on the board. Now knowing, only she was to continue speaking, she began putting things together.
“I understand you are trying to make me do my own thinking. I’ll try to explain the three situations first and may be, you want me to derive lessons from them.” The two words. OWN and LESSONS were put on board.
“In the 1st situation you played the role of an unhappy couple. I was shocked at the way Della talked in there about her husband. She called him a pimp, a no-good loser. I sensed, in the background, there were other family members, too listening. The keyhole you provided to me to watch, brought out a sense of guilt for intruding. There was so much complaining by Della and you went on smoking or doing your own things; least concerned.
The husband seemed to pretend to do some work but mostly went to his friend’s place and talked about abstract situations. Every night she would curse him for producing children and then making her go with begging bowl to her father and brothers. There was so much pain and I felt, she was right but did not have any say in her life. She would constantly abuse his family, the neighbours, his friends. Della’s sitting at the window, when she is alone, gave me the impression that she was in a prison, wistfully looking at the outside activities.” The words GUILT, PAIN, ABUSE, PRISON were put up by Della on the board.
Getting the drift of her thoughts, Namita continued.
“I was not comfortable to your roles in the 2nd situation. Della, you saw yourself as a sex worker visiting the hotel at night. You were half undressed in the arms of Daniel; moaning and slutty-talking. I was made a witness, again through a keyhole watching you two perform through a half opened window and Della receiving money and gifts.
My reading : she needed money;
My carpet-thinking : she seemed comfortable doing that, almost enjoying.” added Namita, shyly. Della winked and put on the words : MONEY , COMFORTABLE DOING .
“The 3rd situation was painful and I felt like hitting the father abusing the son. Della, you looked good posing as the son in the process of becoming a man. The father was right in preventing the son from screwing up his life; wrong friends, shady businesses and risking the family name. I have never seen so much hate, venom in their exchanges. The son was right in wanting to leave the house and be on his own. I wouldn’t stay there for a minute if I get slapped and asked to show forced respect. The sad part was uncertainty; what his father predicted happened. The son got shot in the gang war.”
This time it was Namita who wrote these words on the board : BECOMING A MAN , FORCED RESPECT , UNCERTAINTY.
The Board now had a message ; ACTORS , OWN , LESSONS , GUILT , PAIN , ABUSE , PRISON, MONEY , COMFORTABLE DOING , BECOMING A MAN , FORCED RESPECT , UNCERTAINTY.
Namita learnt from her interpretation of the three situations and admitted to herself her reality; taking responsibility and reins in her hands.
I decided to walk away from my marriage where love was replaced by pain and abuse.
I had no money but it was my own choice and I saw my action akin to “becoming a man”.
The PR job suited me well; I had a dream of being an actor.
Finally, I had recognition and confidence after so much uncertainty.
Then I fell in love with my boss; I was comfortable doing that though he was married.
I lived with a sense of guilt and ignored the many lessons from such a relationship.
He disowned me; I got angry and alleged I was harassed and threatened to send him to prison.
I wanted a forced respect from the society.
1 session, 2 drills, 3 situations and limitless paths…