Dr. Bridget Nelson, PhD
Patient: Frederick Walford
Date and Time: 7/31/2025 4:45-5:30 P.M.
The subject continues to suffer from multiple delusional thoughts. He has separated from his wife of nine years. His condition is worsening despite best efforts of staff. He is close to candidacy for restrictive living in our inpatient zone. We anticipate it will be difficult to obtain his cooperation, and he may have to be transitioned by force. I have messaged security to be on standby during psychotherapy sessions…
Dr. Nelson takes a hand mirror from the drawer of the massive, mahogany desk. She combs her hair and notices a few strands of premature gray. She puts on a subtle amount of lipstick and a few dabs of makeup. She wonders, in the back of her mind, why she wants to fix up her appearance for this person; he is thirty-nine, nerdy, unattractive, short, fat, and balding—and not especially intelligent. Additionally, mentally, he is extremely sick. Why, then?
Dr. Nelson looks to the right and left—it is compulsive. She has a mental map of escape routes should one of her clients come after her. It would not matter that security was available at the clinic if the security person couldn’t get to her aid fast enough.
She is jolted by the door buzzer. She puts the hand mirror away and checks the collar on her shirt. She buzzes in Mr. Walford. Walford walks in and sits in the cushiony chair across from Dr. Nelson. Then he begins his monologue—he often reverted to that, and it was borderline gibberish—highly annoying to Dr. Nelson.
“…I’d made the discovery while I was in the bathtub. I hate to say it, but I have a rubber duck. I know that I am thirty-nine years old and all, and that someone my age should not have a rubber duck, and, really, it is none of anyone’s business; but I am forced by the circumstances to be totally honest with you.” Fred pauses, and Dr. Nelson scribbles a note on her yellow sheet of paper. “To begin with, my wife had left me six months prior.”
“And what emotions did that bring up?”
“You can very well guess.”
“No. I do not guess. How did you feel when your wife left you?”
“I thought we were talking about my discovery.”
“You said it was relevant that your wife had left you. Why don’t we talk about that?”
“But I discovered something about reality.”
“You have told me about this several times before. I need to tell you that the thing you believe you have discovered is an illusion brought about by your reactive psychosis.”
“But what if I can demonstrate my power?”
“Mr. Walford, we don’t have to go there. You should take my word for it that your belief is an abnormality.”
“What if I can change reality right in front of you?” Fred’s mannerisms seem odd to Dr. Nelson and this worries her.
“Fred, you need to stop.” Dr. Nelson says, with emphasis: “You need to listen to me.”
Fred is sitting very straight, and Doctor Nelson struggles to keep calm. Her finger is hovering near the hidden panic button.
Fred says, “I am about to cause the door to this office to open, and a gentleman whom I have never seen, a very big man wearing a white lab coat, and with a birth mark on his forehead, will step through.” Fred starts to wave his arms and has shoulder movements. “These movements help me propel the energy into the ether.”
Dr. Nelson has had enough, and she presses the button. In a moment, a tall, burly psychiatric technician opens the door, and enters the room. He is wearing a white lab coat, and he has a birthmark on his forehead.
Fred says, “As you can see, my control of reality worked.”
“Restrain him!” Dr. Nelson says.
Dr. Nelson is preparing a needle with tranquilizer. Meanwhile, Fred is focusing on another reality change.
Fred says: “I am causing the security man to immediately become ill and I am causing you to get an urgent call from a family member. Hospitalizing me is inappropriate.”
The security man groans and clutches at his abdomen, giving Fred the opportunity to get free of a judo hold. Dr. Nelson’s phone rings, and the call is from her daughter who reports that daddy has a girlfriend.
Dr. Nelson leaves the office, immediately, in tears, the security man groaning in pain on the floor, and Fred goes home. From there, leaves a message for the clinic that he will get his treatment elsewhere.
Jack Bragen is author of “Revising Behaviors that Don’t Work,” “Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia,” and “Jack Bragen’s 2021 Fiction Collection,” and lives in Martinez.