Flash Fiction #83

Lotus

PHOTO PROMPT © Erin Leary

TOO CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

No-one knew what the odd little posts in the Lotus Lagoon were for, or even how they’d got there. They just seemed to appear one day.

Late one night about a week ago, I was walking home from the bar and a strange, silent, glowing airplane without wings swooped out of the night sky and settled onto the pilings. A ramp dropped down, and two squid-like things waddled into the water.  Then it rose soundlessly and disappeared into the dark heavens….

I KNOW what I saw!  Take this strait-jacket off, and let me out of here!  I can prove it.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Insanity

Straitjacket

Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your children.

I was doing some research the other day, and stopped off at Bible.org.  Anything scientific, modern or technological is automatically suspect, so I wasn’t surprised when my eye spotted the headline of an article which read, Psychiatrists Have Been Torturing Insane People For 500 Years.

As a compulsive wordsmith, that caught my attention. A quick check revealed that the word, and occupation, psychiatrist, only came into existence about 125 years ago.  Previous to that, there were men known as psychiators, untrained, unlicensed and uncontrolled.

Driven by self-righteous ego, they were usually interested in power, self-aggrandizement, and enforcing what they viewed as acceptable social norms – shades of The Inquisition. They were often church men, good Christians, and it was they who tortured people who often were not insane, but merely free-thinkers, independents, and weirdoes, marching to a different flautist.

Insanity

As in my post on torture, you could be snatched off the street, or from your home, at any time, for any reason – or none. Might made right.  Cross an undrawn line, and a husky man or two would do worse than sell you into slavery.  Tell your father that you wanted to work at a newspaper, rather than learning how to make gloves; tell your mother you didn’t want the arranged marriage to the fat old farmer; ask your boss for an evening off to go courting, and just see what happened.

Have a look at the list of ‘insanities’, above. Any of these could get you involuntarily committed to an insane asylum, and resisting and insisting that you weren’t insane, was proof that you were.  The list-makers did seem to be fixated on masturbation, in all its variations.  I think they needed more psychological help than the unfortunate wretches they abused.  And I’d like to know how an 1880s nut-house got an Internet address.

Despite the implication that the bad treatment was all the fault of those evil Psychiatrists, these often-self-appointed Guardians of Conformity used many well-known methods to break the will and minds of their charges.  One was wet-sheeting, where they wrapped you tightly in cold, wet linen, and left you on a bed, unable to move, sometimes for days.

Drugs were now commonly available, and widely used. They could be included in what little poor food you got; you could be held by attendants and have it forced down your throat, or directly injected with the new hypodermic syringe.  They included diuretics, which caused you to wet yourself, emetics, which would cause you to vomit, purgatives that roiled your gut, and made you shit yourself, and opiates that suppressed intelligence and will, and blurred reality for you.

On the physical side, beyond the restraining wet-sheeting, one of the favorites was the chair.  You were strapped into a sturdy wooden chair with arms.  Four ropes were attached to the corners, and then those were attached to a single strong rope, suspended from a high ceiling.  Loaded with some of the above drugs, you were then spun round and round – and round, while also swinging back and forth.  Fifty spins in one direction, then forty in the other, then thirty the first way, then twenty, etc, etc!

When the ride came to a stop, you were Inquisitioned. “Admit that you were insane.”  “I was never insane! I am healthy and normal!”  “Wind him up again boys.”  “No, No more! I admit that I was insane.  I am better now and will behave well.”  Caning was common, as well as pitch-black sensory-deprivation solitary confinement.

One facility even built a giant wooden wheel, two feet in thickness, and twelve feet in diameter, its axle sitting on tall posts. An offender was shoved in through a small port, the door latched, and then left for up to 36 hours.  There was no light, no food, no water, and no toilet facilities.  What little air, was redolent with the reek of previous tenants’ leavings.  Like a hamster, you could walk, but that only rained feces and almost-dried vomit on you.

An open mind can always stand a closed one, if it has to – by making room for it in the general picture. But a closed mind can’t stand it near an open one without risking immediate and complete destruction in its own terms.  In a closed mind, there’s no more room.

Gordon R. Dickson, author – Tiger Green – 1965

The 1889 date above just about matches the time when Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and others, began humanely treating mental disorders, which most of these poor souls did not have. Sadly, these propaganda pits did not die out.  As late as the 1950s, white women with non-white boyfriends or husbands could be snatched and incarcerated till they ‘learned better.’

At the same time, unwed mothers could be permanently locked away in places like the Magdalene Sisters homes, where their delivered babies were quietly buried in the back yards, and the women were forced into 16 to 18 hours a day physical labor, to pay for their unwanted keep, while those darned Psychiatrists were busy torturing folks. Insanity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.    😦

Not One Of Us!

This post could be considered Part 2 of my Ego And Insecurity post   I want to talk about “Those People”.  These are the ones that you find in every social, business, and political situation.  Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems the worst, the most noticeable, are to be found in religion.

These are the people who, to feel good, have to make others feel bad.  For them to stand tall, it must be on the bodies of their enemies and rivals, or at least on top of those they feel inferior to them – pretty much everybody.  For them to be the biggest frog, they just shrink the pond – exclude, exclude, exclude!

I laughed –behind my hand, and behind the back of – one young new-age New Order Mennonite lad that I worked with.  He was a member of a very elite, very select, break-away sect, comprised of all of 15 members, believing that they, and they alone, knew the road to Heaven, and possessed the keys to the holy gates when they got there.  They were SO different – just like all the others.

The logical end to these exclusionary beliefs and actions, lies with a population of one, the solitary psychopath, who believes that only he counts, and the rest of the world is there for him to do with as he wishes.  Evangelical Christianity is therefore but one short step away from both insanity and criminal behavior, and a disturbing number use their religion, to justify committing the others.

It was not a great surprise that there is a term to describe the actions and attitudes I’ve previously observed and written about.  I was somewhat disappointed that I’d reached almost the age of 70, before I found out what it is.  I was greatly disturbed that it was my ancestors (great thinkers they) who produced it, and I was not aware!

It is known as the, “No True Scotsman Theorem.”  No True Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge!  Wait a minute, I put sugar on my porridge.  That just proves my point.  You’re not a true Scotsman.  Christianity is the religion of love and peace.  What about the Crusades, and the Inquisition?  Well, those weren’t True Christians.  If you own the definition, you can’t be wrong.

An eight-year-old girl was expelled from a Catholic school in California, because she didn’t fit the board’s definition of what a girl was.  She was a tom-boy, who wanted to play ball, and wrestle in the mud.  She wanted to dress in sweatshirts and jeans.  They wanted her in skirts and pink dresses.  She was accused of “gender confusion” because she wanted to go into the boys’ washroom – probably just curious, but the curiosity was more dangerous to the status quo than the non-existent sexual content.

The board denied the gender and dress-code accusations, and said that the reason she was expelled, was that she didn’t follow rules – which is true.  When you write the rules, and seize the definitions, she couldn’t be a “True Catholic,” or a “True Girl.”  Another Catholic elementary school quickly accepted her – but they probably weren’t “True Catholics” either.

The wife and I watch a number of British Television series on a specialty channel.  Last fall we got a new one we liked, imported all the way from Australia, titled Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, set in about 1930.

Miss Fisher is a 30ish, flapper-girl, monied Aussie, exempt from the worst of the beginning American Depression.  She is very intelligent, and independent-minded, like the little girl above.  She has joined a circus, traveled the world, learned self-defence, acquired a hammerless, gold-plated .45 calibre revolver, a nasty little garter-dagger, and come back to Melbourne to solve crimes.

She inherits a 20ish, sheltered, naïve, country-girl maid from a society woman she puts away for murder and drug smuggling.  At a time when Australia was PROTESTANT, this girl wears a tiny gold cross around her neck.  The producers and writers apparently like to point out religious hypocrisies, contradictions and exclusions.

The young police constable wants to get to know her, but quickly pulls back when he spots the gold cross – she might be Catholic.  “Go ahead,” his Inspector urges him, “It’s not as if she has two heads!”  “She might as well have, if my mother finds out.”

When she begins work for our heroine, she refuses to answer an often-ringing telephone.  Her priest has told her that this new-fangled gadget is “un-natural,” the electricity leaks into the planet, and too much usage will cause the Earth to explode.

You can protest that this is just the strange opinion of only one man, but, he’s the infallible, heavenly-inspired, to-be-blindly-obeyed, man in a position of authority, who tells her what she may and may not do to ensure her everlasting soul going to Heaven .

One scene shows her going to bed, clad in her voluminous nightgown, kneeling by the side of her bed, saying her prayers, like a six-year-old.  After asking God to protect the well-being of her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, her new employer and fellow servants, the butcher, and the penguins at the zoo – she finally gets around to asking Him to protect the handsome young Police Constable.

“And, if You have enough time, God, after doing all of that for me, I would really appreciate it if you could give Constable Collins a Signthat You are Catholic.”