Monday, July 13, 2009
Now that's funny!
Way to go NPR! A good story took a hairpin turn onto Greatness Avenue.
"Help...incarcerated 13 years...miscarriage of justice." Well of course the journalist was gonna visit the guy. He found an intelligent, articulate, charming man with a true story.
Street punk teen, sorta Johnny Rotten type, awaiting trial on Assault charge. Older cellmates urge him to beat the rap by playing crazy. They'll send you to a comfy hospital for a few months. So he did, but "they" didn't. They sent him to Broadmoor, and now 17's turning 31 (thanks Jackson Browne!) and nobody listens when he tells them he was only playing crazy.
Broadmoor is the maximum security insane asylum in England. They got people so crazy, Stephen King wishes he could write that scary. Sounds juicy, huh? Forgotten little cog lost inside the big faceless Gulag/Labryinth thingy. Not to be confused with Labryinthitis which is a disease of the ear, and the inmates at Broadmoor, trouble is a bit past the inner ear. But I digress.
So the journalist is intrigued. He gets to see head Psychiatrist, after forms granting Johnny Rotten's permission for third party discussion of the case, and waiting months because hey, he's a busy Psychiatrist OK? There's a LOT of crazy people on this planet all right?
He finally sits down and gets to parrot Johnny's tale of woe to the head man. Instead of giving the journalist a cracker and calling him "pretty bird" the Doctor nods throughout the narrative. Then he blows the doors off the whole thing.
Something like, "None of us were ever fooled by the patient's antics. We don't send people to Broadmoor for doing Jack Nicholson impressions." The Doctor went on to explain that Johnny is a psychopath. Nobody ever thought his clumsy faking of abnormality was interesting. It's what he thinks is normal that got him to Broadmoor. That Assault charge? He kicked a homeless man nearly to death, pretty much for the fun of it. Quite likely he'd been doing stuff like that all through childhood, working his sadism up the food chain until he arrived at humans. Johnny pretended to be a person confused about reality, when in fact he has an iron grip on reality. It's just that in his reality, he sees other humans as prey. He's functionally unable to feel empathy for any other human.
Was the Psychiatrist right? I don't know, he might be crazy too! But every detail doesn't have to be nailed down for a thing to be cosmic, y'know Dave?
You're walking around thinking yourself an X guy. You want to game the system by portraying a Y guy. You're about to dance out on stage in a theatre filled with folk who will say, "That's the biggest Z that I ever saw!" You're about to go to Broadmoor for the rest of your life. Via a series of random, impulsive choices you've delivered yourself to those who'll see in your antics neither Jack Nicholson, nor Johnny Rotten but a madness hotter than the sun & deeper than the ocean.
I don't know if they're right. Psychiatry is a very soft science. But you are screwed Dude, and you've no one but you to blame. In a larger sense, I wonder how many of us are walking around selling ourselves as one thing, while being bought as something else and we don't even know it.