Meanwhile, in a Doctor’s Office in Some Psychiatric Ward…

By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings

“Yes, doctor, I’m quite comfortable, but I don’t think I need this straight jacket any longer. I’m not going to harm anyone. I may flirt with that nurse who comes in here to see you now and then. She shows up in my dreams every so often. I recognize her then, but she never smiles back at me.”

“I’m sorry I can’t remove the straight jacket. The last time we were together you became quite uncontrollable. Can you explain why, or do you remember?”

“If I told you that I remember, would you actually believe my explanation?”

“Of course, I remember the incidence vividly. I would know if you are putting me on.”

“Well, I don’t remember anything vividly any longer. Maybe it’s my age. I forget a lot of the details. That’s why I can watch those old movies on TV and be entertained. People here say I’ve seen some of those old flicks numerous times, but I can’t remember the details of the plots. I do remember some of the faces and the costumes. And I understand everything that’s happening as I watch the denouement of the plot.”

“So tell my what you think happened the last time you came to see me. It may help me to avoid the circumstances that caused you so much aggravation.”

“I guess you could say that my last visit seemed like a continuation of a recurring bad dream. When I came in your office, the angry feelings I had when I left the time before returned, but what actually happened is quite vague. It was like going to the bathroom in the night as I frequently do, and when I return to sleep, I find myself in a continuation of a nightmare.”

“It was daylight then, and you weren’t dreaming. You were wide awake. Didn’t you recognize me as the doctor who always attends you?”

“Yes, I knew who you were, but I wasn’t sure which dream I was experiencing. I sometimes see you in my night time dreams. Then you aren’t my doctor. You aren’t friendly, and you never talk to me as you are talking to me now. We are usually involved in some issues of great urgency, some business in a factory that I can’t recall right now.”

“Do you recognize other people from this hospital in your night time dreams?”

“Of course, and none of them do the same thing. Sometimes we’re in a strange factory, and sometimes we’re on the street. They never recognize me as a patient, but they seem to know me.”

“How can you tell?”

“Because they talk to me like they’ve seen me before, and they interface with me as if I’ve been around where we are working often and have some role in their lives. It’s always strange to me because I don’t remember how we were introduced and why they happen to know me.”

“You are sure that they know something about you, although you know almost nothing about them but their appearance?”

“Yes, they interact with me as if we have been in contact before, doing something together. I recognize them, but can’t remember how we became acquainted. It’s the failure of my memory, I guess. I never can remember the details of the meetings with my daylight acquaintances at night. Still, I feel certain that those people in my dreams have met me before.”

“Where do you think these people have met you?”

“In some parallel existence. One that I visit at night on occasion. There may be many more of these ‘lives’ that I share with others. Some of those experiences seem to have a disjointed continuity and others don’t. Does that explain why I am crazy, doctor?”

“We don’t know if you are crazy, and we may never know if you are or not for sure. I think your dreams are disturbing you. Of course, people have delusions whether they are asleep or awake. You are different from the other people whom we call ‘normal,’ and I’m assigned to try to understand just how different.”

“You dream at night, too, don’t you, doctor?”

“Almost everybody does. Dreaming isn’t bad nor indicate craziness. The inability to distinguish between a dream state and the reality state causes alarm in our daylight society, as you know.”

“How did I alarm you during my last visit?”

“You weren’t your usual self that I talk with each week. How do you recall that visit?”

“It is as vague as last night’s dream. I seem to remember that I was troubled when I came in by something that happened to me before I arrived, something that frightened me. What that was, I can’t recall. Maybe someone hit me or threatened to hit me. I was very defensive and frightened, I think. You weren’t my doctor during that visit, but another personality from a dream I’ve had who always gives me the creeps because you are so powerful and secretive and seem to loathe the sight of me.”

“Please relax, now. I don’t need to hear any more about that visit. But you never told me about the personality I have in your night time dreams. Care to describe that character?”

“You are a boss or foreman in a factory where I have a job. I seem to work in many different factories at night. Yet in each place I have similar feelings of being threatened by some authority for my incompetence. I am always wondering how I can please the foreman or the boss.”

“And you are scared to lose your job, right?”

“Yes, terrified. In my dreams I don’t know if I have a family to support, a mortgage to pay, or a thousand obligations to fulfill. I never ask myself why I am frightened. I just know that I must figure out a way to keep that disgusting job.”

“Were your daylight jobs always menacing to you?”

“Not physically, but mentally, yes. The pleasantness in my life always depended on the money that I could earn. The bosses always seemed diabolical and ruthless in the use of their power and position. They never showed any caring feelings for us employees. Their deadlines were unreasonable and their profit objectives unattainable. We lived in a frightening state of mind where the foreman’s instructions were: ‘better finish this or else,’ ‘my way or the highway,’ and ‘the boss is always right!'”

“And this is a recurring scene in your night time dreams: you are frequently working in a factory for some uncaring boss? Do you ever lash out at the foreman or attack the boss?”

“How could I without losing my job? I always did what I thought I had to do, and I made as many parts as I could. I would wake up in a sweat when I couldn’t keep up with the pace or when I ruined a batch of something. Sometimes I was given an assignment in my dreams where I had no idea how I was to accomplish that assignment. I wandered around the factory trying to look busy and knowledgeable until the whistle blew to announce the end of my shift.”

“Did you ever get caught faking it?”

“No. I usually woke up first, but I was scared that I would be found out and fired.”

“So, you never ‘lost’ control on the job. At night or during the day?”

“Never, that I can remember. I was often verbally disciplined, but my frustrations never caused me to take any violent action. It surprises me to learn that I was violent during my last visit.”

“Have you dreamed about me as your foreman recently?”

“Not that I can recall. I don’t usually look around in my dreams and seldom study faces. When I do, I frequently recognize someone. But most nights I don’t recognize anyone.”

“And the people you recognize, do they all have different roles?”

“Not all of them. Some of the girl friends I had in my day time life were still interested in me, either platonically and physically. Their roles weren’t the same exactly, but their interaction with me was romantic sometimes. There were never enough of these pleasurable relationships when I dreamt, however. Yet, when I think about all the time I spend supposedly awake in what you call the ‘day time reality,’ the romantic experiences in that part of my life were few also, and rarely as intense as those at night.”

“So, the number of night time affairs are proportionally more frequent than the day time ones?”

“I never thought about it like that. What is the proportional amount of our happy experiences, our angry experiences, and so forth during the day versus the similar kinds of experiences during our night time dreams? Because we are more familiar with our day time experiences and recognize more people in these, doctor, does that automatically make these experiences more ‘real’ to our consciousness than those mixed-up experiences made up by our subconscious minds during our night time repose?”

“Reality is what most people agree it is, I think – what the majority of us expect as the most logical human behavior. It is a common interpretation of events and the anticipated rational response to shared outside stimuli.”

“Suppose the consensus of people is wrong. The earth was never flat. North America was always around on the other side of the planet. People in Eurasia knew nothing of Indian reality, customs, and behavior because no one ever experienced it. Who were the crazy ones during all those years? Those who thought the world might be round?”

“What are you suggesting about reality, then?”

“That humans can’t measure reality nor determine which of their experiences are real by the number of similar experiences a human’s consciousness thinks it has. Nor can you really know someone well, doctor, and describe their behavior accurately by the number of times you interface with them, or the number of visits they make to your office. What’s truly ‘normal’ human behavior?”

“That’s a curious way of looking at human life. It may be just your justification for your strange behavior. Do you remember other times when you reacted violently to someone?”

“In school when I was younger. I was always fighting with the bullies who were picking on me or my friends. I may have lost some of these fights, but I always gained respect from those I tangled with. Do those few fights as a child determine that I am a violent person easily made crazy by external events? Or were my aggressive reactions merely the result of my confused, internal interpretation to what’s going on outside my consciousness in the school yard in the daylight?”

“I would say you raise an interesting question, Why is it possible for our human consciousness to believe that day time events with others are more ‘real’ than night time ones? Both seem real to our consciousness at the time of recording the experience. Yet, either experience could be interpreted incorrectly, and any interpretation of these experiences could be deemed false by those who don’t experience them!”

“I don’t remember my last visit to your office very well, doctor, as I told you. I think I was heavily sedated. I woke up back in my bed wondering what happened to me. It was the kind of a dream or experience I like to forget.”

“I see. Well, those of us who witnessed your behavior that afternoon, don’t think it was a dream. Your behavior was noted and considered part of our day time reality. Nevertheless, you have raised some troubling ideas this afternoon about what reality and normality are. I don’t have anymore time for you today, but I can assure you that I will be contemplating more deeply what we doctors consider to be normal responses to reality. I’ll look forward to our next conversation.”

“OK, doctor. I’ll try not to disturb your sense of reality with more violence. Please ask those orderlies not to give me an overdose of sedatives before I come here again. I don’t want to experience your office as an imaginary place that doesn’t welcome me like all those factories I dream about at night!”

Chic Hollis
Chic Hollis is a longtime drummer and motorcyclist, who served in the US Air Force in North Africa. Married 4 times with 5 children born in 5 different countries on four continents, Chic is a politically independent citizen of the world interested in helping Americans understand the reality that is life overseas where many intelligent, educated, and industrious people aren't as privileged as we are in the US. He studied Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German and ran several large companies. Sadly, Chic Has left this planet and we miss him very much, but we are very pleased to display his amazing writing works.