“The Puppet” / Memorable Fancies #1561

[“Should this individual say “I am nothing but a human puppet,” he would forthwith be marched to the nearest psychiatric hospital.” – Thomas Ligotti] – where he would be treated like – a puppet! [Book ad: The year’s hottest new TV series is a reenactment of a famous murder trial ... but was there more involved than murder? A plot to take over the U.S. government? Read Try Try Again.] … [Read more...]

“The Silence” / Memorable Fancies #1191

[“It will be as it is in this life, the same room, ...” – Ezra Pound] I am forced to remember this image forever: white walls, hard instruments, dials and buttons, cold therapies, collusions of silence. <END> Buy it at amazon.com/author/terencekuch: Everything Wants to Happen, the first thousand Memorable Fancies from this blog, revised and updated. … [Read more...]

“Heat” / Memorable Fancies #844

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]        The asylum administration has turned up the heat. No, not another example of their solicitous bullying, but real heat: the thermostat here in Ward H says so. Already I feel less withdrawn, less hostile, more sweaty, more apt to agree wholeheartedly with my therapist and put up with his “agreeing with me is just your defense mechanism, Diane” schtick, and make an effort not to bite him … [Read more...]

“The Insanity Program” / Memorable Fancies #724

     From the ceiling, from the walls, came the soft voices. Occasionally, Matthew recognized a word or two, important words that reeked of meaning: “...almost too late for...”. “...do you know what he...”.]      He strained to hear the voices, but the more intently he listened, the quieter they became. It was driving him crazy, he thought, hearing something he couldn’t hear.      “SPEAK UP, FOR GOD’S SAKE,” Matthew shouted, but the voices continued softly, calmly, unperturbed. He stuffed … [Read more...]

“My Fellow-Patients: Andy” / Memorable Fancies #530

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Andy The New Guy wanders up to our lunch table, looks around for someone to talk to. I turn away but not in time. Andy has a problem – less annoying than what most of us do most of the time, I’ll admit, but still a nuisance.      Every day, he thinks this is his first day in the asylum, asks where things are, introduces himself, etc. Just now he’s introducing himself to me for the maybe … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XXIV: Freedom” / Memorable Fancies #521

     In the madhouse, we pretend that cooperation is voluntary – our unmotivated free gift. You will do that, they say. Yes, I have decided to do that, we say. Obedience is our therapy. Like some Gulag prisoner, we learn to choose our inevitable fate.      We are finally discharged from the asylum. It is the same everywhere. Obedience is our life. <END>      If you liked this post, please tell your friends and share a comment here or in StumbleUpon, Reddit, Facebook, or other … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XXIII: Hallowe’en at the Asylum” / Memorable Fancies #506

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Every Hallowe’en, various people – staff, or patients from a crazy-ward on another floor, who knows? – put on fuzzy costumes and “entertain” us. They dress up as bears, at least I think they’re supposed to be bears; but to me they look like very large gophers, or extinct ground-sloths. Anyway, in these furry suits that any kid would laugh at, they present such a countenance of perhaps … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XXII: Dinner at Bad Shepherd” / Memorable Fancies #467

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      The pleasant little bell rings over the PA system and we all salivate. Those of us trusted to move our own legs trudge to the dining hall, which adjoins the day room and provides dining so elegant that those here who’ve been in the Army weep with reminiscence and tell the others long stories about liver-day, SOS, and Tuesday’s coffee (that’s the day cook tops up the grounds).      We … [Read more...]

“Folder-Therapy” / Memorable Fancies #460

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      One of the patients sneaked a look inside a manila folder at the nurses’ station: the classic urban legend of the madhouse. I think it’s a plot; Doctor leaves papers around for us to “accidentally” find, read, be terrified or reassured. It’s some secret therapy, papers saying things he made up, lies about us, things he wants us to know and deny, fantasies for us to try on for size. It’s a … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XX: Pieces” / A Memorable Fancy #400

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Doctor takes our minds apart piece by piece, disassembles them, lays them out like mice ripped apart by a cat. Sometimes we talk about it, a kind of conversational terrorism. Here’s a piece of me:      “Do you know why you’re here?” he asks.      “I’m crazy.”      “Well, saying that is just avoidance, you know, Diane. ‘Crazy’ is just a word. It’s not acknowledging what you … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XVII: Bedtime at the Asylum” / A Memorable Fancy #389

  [Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]   “What are your dreams, Diane?” Sugar Odette asks me. “On most nights, I dream that monsters are chasing me.” “No, I mean your hopes for the future. When they let you out of here.” “I hope they don’t catch me.” “Who?” “The monsters.” # Sugar gives me a hug and a kiss because she’s annoyed that I’m not taking her question seriously. Then she turns over and … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XIV: Family Visits” / A Memorable Fancy #378

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Some of us patients have families. When they come to visit on visiting day, the dayroom is where they see us: a pleasant, sunny place where the keepers can keep an eye on the crazies, keep us controlled by playing the television machine loud enough to cover up any embarrassing conversations among the patients or with their families.      So we mouth clichés at each other, at least they … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XIII: Visitor Days at the Asylum” / A Memorable Fancy #375

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      The desperate sameness and seemness and seamless texture of our lives is occasionally broken by visitors from the city: do-gooders, do-badders, and those who don’t know the difference. For example, the health inspector comes by every three months and closets himself with Doctor Wolfe and selected flunkies. I never see him actually inspect anything, but after a time he smiles and nods as he … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XII: Movie Time Again” / A Memorable Fancy #372

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Another dayroom movie here in the asylum because, aside from terrifying visits with our mind-probers, that’s about all there is to do. This one is …:      “Escape of the Maniacs – A group of obnoxious inmates of a lunatic asylum believe they are escaping from the institution and having various gruesome adventures, while in ‘reality’ only having a bad day in group. This documentary, … [Read more...]

“Asylum – XI: A Tourist Guide to My Palace” / A Memorable Fancy #368

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Founded many years ago as “Shepherd Hospital for the Pitifully Deranged,” the name was changed in 2001 because it was no longer in accord with twenty-first century principles of ethical jargon. So now it’s “Shepherd Hospital Center for the Pitifully Deranged,” even though it doesn’t seem to be the center of anything in particular. Most of the townies, with understandable confusion, call … [Read more...]

“Asylum – X: Grounds for Confinement” / A Memorable Fancy #364

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      I stare out the dayroom window, the land sloping downward at first gradually, then more steeply toward the city below. Lawns. Beds of flowering moribunda dented here and there with anti-personnel mines, a few divots from past explosions. In the distance, vague outlines of fences, barbed wire, guard towers, searchlights now dimmed for day. But I think these may be only computer-generated … [Read more...]

“Asylum – IX: New Names for Old” / A Memorable Fancy #361

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]     Thanks to the Pledge Week thon, the chairs in the Ward H dayroom have been rebadged in honor of various donors, who can now tell their friends that they’ve endowed a Chair of Punitive Psychiatry. At the moment, I’m sitting in a chair commemorating a modest gift given in honor of one of our crazies from olden days, insanitus emeritus, via the hospital’s Gatehouse Society.      I have … [Read more...]

“Asylum – V: Realize” / A Memorable Fancy #343

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Today I had another one of those precious one-on-ones with Dr. Wolfe.  Doctor draws a deep breath and straightens up in his chair. He doesn’t know what that means, but I do: his next sentence will include the word “realize.” A shrink’s favorite word. “Realize” has something to with “real people,” but not with “realty,” the house I lost when I was sent here to the asylum. “Real” is whatever … [Read more...]

“Asylum – IV: Words in Air” / A Memorable Fancy #336

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”]      Once in an unpredictable while Doctor Wolfe makes his rounds, hmmm-ing and clucking, thumbing charts at the keepers’ station. There are two ways we act when Doctor visits Ward H. The first tactic is to be normal, calm, responsible, friendly, collegial. Doctor watches for these signs, writes in his notebook when he sees them. Our other tactic is to act crazy. There are conflicting rumors as … [Read more...]

“Asylum – III: Time for Meds” / A Memorable Fancy #330

[Continuing the journal of Diane McMurphy, a patient in Bad Shepherd mental hospital, “The Asylum”] Tiny bustling, faint noise loud as gongs: time for meds here in the asylum’s infamous (to us) Ward H. The keepers want us to come of our own accord, but they will herd the stragglers sure enough with words we know but only they own. When the keepers are gone we whisper these magic words to each other; we tinkle them like amulets. We line up silently now, hands in front, eyes downcast. The … [Read more...]