Speaking With Your Demons

I know not all that may be coming,
But be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.

Herman Melville

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Nathan Kelly announced, “the University of Washington today has an announcement which stands to shake the very foundation of education. We are completely revising and restructuring our Psychiatry program. It will be, undeniably, unlike any other in the world.

Our current students needn’t worry, as most are already involved in the changes. After all, the majority of the program centers on the associated medical degree, however they’ll have to relearn the majority of what they previously mastered about mental disorders under the older structure.

Since the topic is hard to grasp, I’d like to introduce someone involved with the project familiar with wrestling things difficult to handle, Mr. Phil Walker of the Philadelphia Walker Institute.”

The camera pulled back, focusing on Phil as he approached President Nathan, shaking his hand. As he neared a separate podium, the camera focused on a variety of sculptures of many of his creatures arraigned on a table before him. They included a dragon, demon, devil, berserker and even a fairy. No accountants or seamstresses, though.

“Thank you, President Kelly. As most of you know, I’ve not only recently regained my ability to see and touch the invisible beings behind mental illnesses; I’ve also changed how I interact with them. However, since the majority of the medical community continues to express skepticism over my claims, I committed to working with the university to thoroughly document my results.

You’ll need to stick with me, as this gets a bit complicated, but we decided to approach this in a multiple step process. The first, representing the traditional method, featured the universities existing professors and professionals applying whichever techniques they wished to achieve the best possible outcome they could. That included combining different procedures and conflicting schools, whatever might produce the biggest bang for the buck.

Competing against that group, I took on the second, using my previous method. Only ... that proved to be more difficult than we planned. Not only is it physically stressing to combat that many creatures each day, but I’ve also tired of the wholesale death and destruction. Not only is it demoralizing, but completely counterproductive. As a result, I modified my approach, only eliminating forty percent of the patients’ illness, and then convincing their tormentors: demons, dragons, devils or whatnot, into working with us, to help the individual rather than driving them to despair.

While this varied from my early process of eradicating them entirely, it’s more in keeping with the designs of their creators, with whom I consulted with over the past few months. They were created at least tens of thousands of years ago to help humans become better than they are. As such, it made sense to enlist them and modifying their behavior, rather than combating them each step of the way.

I later modified the approach even more. Instead of eliminating those creatures, I recruited them to work with my other associates, those unable to see and touch them. While that further complicated the numbers, it also allowed me to expand my limited abilities to anyone eager to learn the techniques.

Which leads directly to the final test group, designed to demonstrate that anybody can master these methods. May I introduce my associate, a temporary professor at the university assigned with teaching my process to a new generation of psychiatrists. Meg Whiting, would you be so kind as so join me to describe the final step in the university’s studies?”

Meg approached, wearing a frilly polka-dot dress that emphasized her young age. She literally skipped as she hurried forward, joining Phil accompanied by thunderous applause.

“As you can see, Meg has become a favorite here on campus. Meg, could you describe what you’ve been doing for the past few months?”

She chuckled.

“Along with saving your ass several times, I’ve led the third group, where I address the same invisible creatures that Phil does. I speak to them in their own language, addressing their concerns and apply reason and helping them to see that aiding humans benefits them directly.

It’s not always a simple process, but it’s not as difficult as most imagine, once you learn how to proceed.”

She waved her hands across the collection of sculptures arranged across the table.

“I’ve dealt with the demons, devils, dragons and even the dangerous berserkers. I came to this, through Phil, who cured not only my depression, but also treated my mother’s drug dependency which triggered it. She’s now in complete remission, also leading a team of her own creatures to help the homeless suffering from addictions.”

“Now that you know the different phases of the study,” Phil said, taking over the lecture, “let me introduce Tracy Lakewood, who performed the statistical analysis of the results. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have any of our neat models.”

“Thank you, Mr. Walker, and you too, Meg. The results of the study were striking. The first group, featuring the traditional psychological approaches, achieved surprisingly effective development, with a seventeen percent reduction in symptoms. Mind you, they were treating people already being treated with psychiatric medicines. While medical treatments often minimize the symptoms, they don’t eliminate them, while also creating their own complications, as everyone should understand.

Phil’s approach wasn’t as efficient as his earlier technique, since his creatures are tasked with teaching their humans specific lessons, which often involved penalizing them for negative behavior as well as rewarding healthy practices. Still, he achieved a seventy-two percent improvement. While that’s clearly not his earlier claims of a hundred percent cure, it includes many more individuals without the extensive loss of life associated with his earlier techniques.

However, the biggest surprise was the results of Meg’s portion of the study, which achieved an eighty-seven percent reduction in symptoms. Her outcome was better than Phil’s, mainly because her approach wasn’t as confrontational and produced fewer dangerous fights. Yet in both cases, the negative results were due to their keeping the creatures involved in the process. They continued teaching their lessons, while still working with us to improve the overall health of the individuals.

We’re offering the published analysis of the study online, so anyone interested can analyze the conclusions. Yet the effectiveness of these techniques is not only pronounced, but it strikes at the heart of the need to revise the psychiatric profession. For years, they aimed to minimize symptoms instead of curing individuals and allowing them to resume their previous lives. Clearly, Meg and Phil’s come much closer than the traditional approaches.

Which is why the university is completely revising our psychological curriculum. While we continue teaching the medical aspects of the profession, we do so without the emphasis on drug therapy. In other words, while they’ll still involve a medical degree, they’ll no longer need to prescribe psychiatric drugs.

Starting this next year, we’ll be teaching Phil and Meg’s methods, involving those involved in recruiting and working with these otherworldly creatures for the betterment of their patients.

As you can imagine, this will revolutionize the psychiatric field. How many will pay hundreds per session for techniques which, at best, only achieve a seventeen percent improvement of their underlying condition, accompanied with often crippling side-effects? Instead, our students will offer an almost complete cure, along with the ability to reason and discuss their continued disorder with their own creatures, negotiating their symptoms as the needs arise.

Since this will likely affect every other university across the country, we’ll supply a special master’s program, where we’ll train existing psychiatrists in these newer techniques so they won’t be left behind. We’re also expanding our education curriculum to offer degrees in setting up the same psychology programs in any other university interested in starting similar training.

These changes highlight UW’s commitment to providing the best education available, regardless of what the existing medical establishment insists is ‘appropriate’. And before you ask, yes, we’ll also accept patients for treatment as part of our training, though you’ll have to file applications with the university. Virtually everyone who participated in this study is now fully able to function without medical supervision, although our trained psychiatrists can provide follow-up treatments anytime they’re required.

In short, this new program is every bit as phenomenal as President Kelly proclaimed. We’re anticipating record numbers of applications, and are staffing up to meet demands. However, if you hope to be accepted, you need to apply immediately, as demand will be high and the competition to attend with be intense.”

“So,” Abe asked, as he and Betty congratulated Phil, Meg and Tracy after the conclusion of their announcement. “What’s next? Now that you’ve completed the study, and published the results, your time is your own again. You can do whatever you want. What’s more, you don’t have the weight of the world hanging around your neck, as there are now dozens of people who can take over your work.”

“Well, it’s not quite over. I’m sure I’ll be serving as a consultant, as well as conducting regular speaking engagements, but I’m planning on taking it easy. The first plan, though, is to return to Philadelphia and reconnect with my family and friends there, and help them move the Walker Institute forward.

“However, the biggest challenge in the future will be Meg’s, which the two of you will definitely be involved in.”

“He’s right about that,” Tracy announced. “We’re already fielding calls from television stations and newspapers interested in interviewing Meg. The Tonight Show wants to book her, and there’s currently a bidding war over which news program will be the first to feature her in a live interview.”

“I knew this project would force her to grow up rapidly, but this might be a bit much.”

Phil reached over and hugged her. “Don’t worry, Betty. If anyone is ready for this, Meg is. What’s more, after wrestling with demons and dragons, she’s more than equipped to tell anyone ‘no’ whenever it’s called for. She’s more than ready to walk away from ‘yet another’ interview, but she’s also a perfect example of the program, capturing everything I’ve emphasized.”

“Uh, I hate to ask, but what about me?” Abe asked. “While it was exciting helping you these past months, what am I supposed to do now?”

Tracy sidled up to him, wrapping her arm around him. “You can start by kissing me, you big galoot! Then you can relax and consider your future. There are thousands of PTSD support and veterans groups, which would love to have you speak to them. What’s more, the military has hundreds of grants available related to PTSD and trauma treatments. I can help you apply for any you want. I can also help you find a position at the university. Finally, if you still want to support Phil, I won’t object to your following him to Philadelphia, though you may have to fight with your sister. She’ll want your help in supporting your niece as she tours the country. The commute from here to Philadelphia will be taxing, but it’s not unreasonable.

“Frankly, the future is yours and your own options are endless. For the first time in a long time, you can pick your own destiny. What’s more, I can easily arrange with the university for you to study whatever advanced degree you want. You just need to figure out what you want and go for it.”

“Thanks. Now that you put it like that, I think I’d like that future to include you, Tracy, though we’ll have to negotiate with Phil, Meg and Betty about where that future might reside.”

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Aliens / Demons / Dragons /