“Asylum – I: ‘If there’s no song …'” / A Memorable Fancy #276

[Diane McMurphy is a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum.”]

On Sunday mornings we have Group, each one led by an intern on rotation from another psych ward. Most of these interns are very earnest and boring and I can get away with saying only stupid things, not giving away anything personal. But about once a month we get “Jon,” – that’s what he likes to be called, not “Dr. McConnell.” I like Jon, even though he sees right through me and out the other side. If anyone were human, he’d be human.

With Jon, what our group has together is the music. Without a song, we can’t organize the mindwork – can’t imagine how to begin the session – can’t know what needs to be done. Tentatively, a tune begins, and a simple rhythm. The traditional introit, “Doctor I’ve been worried about,” is intoned. Then others join the group, a false lead, re-begin, a bass line, harmony, rhythm. A theme “My problem is …” emerges, and then the counter-theme “What’s so goddamn important about your problem?” There is an attempt at a soft-rock beat, then a dotted rhythm breaks out among the mezzos.

Chanting in D mingled with G fades and a strong C-major takes command, accompanied by pseudo-drumbeats on folding-chair bottoms. We swing and sway and confess the sins of each other, moving to the beat. We sing our fears and hum the classic rock song, “How Do You Feel About That, Yeah Yeah Yeah.” Eventually it ends with a full cadence and we are all drained with spent emotion and sweat and transference and we all slink back to the dayroom.

[To be continued–]

 00 SeeSaw front cover small image

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