Case 0492: Sleeping with the Homeless, Part 1
Greetings! My name is Dr. Liebnitz Osgood, and with the referral of long-time cohort Ivvy Goldberg, Esq. and the invite of Ms. Angora Holly Polo, I am writing this as the first of my much-anticipated weekly contributions to Donnybrook. Though most of my offerings are tailored to academic annals of medicine and psychiatry, rest assured that this series, dear readers, is meant strictly for your amusement. No annal whatsoever.
Esteemed contemporaries and petulant detractors alike have labeled me as a “mad scientist.” Rest assured, friends, that I bear no resemblance whatsoever to Victor Frankenstein, Henry Jekkyl, or Michael Hrfurfurer. I leave it to you to judge for yourself whether I am crazy and/or misanthropic. Admittedly, my methods are unorthodox, and I am indeed passionate about my work. In fact, “passionate scientist” would a more fitting handle. “Brilliantly endowed passionate ubermensch extraordinaire” better yet.
As a practicing psychiatrist, I have at my disposal an arsenal of psychotherapeutic weaponry amassed over the course of my extensive training, as well as my tireless work as a clinician and researcher in my field. My methods are as diverse as they are unorthodox. For instance, I generally eschew prescribing medication, but won’t hesitate to throw down a thorazine ‘script in the event a patient of mine has intractable hiccoughs. When it comes to dosing, I generally make a point to dose outside the recommended limits because that, quite simply, is how I roll.
In terms of psychotherapy, I generally shoot from the hip. My only consistent modus operandi is to pause before addressing patients to ask myself, “Is this something that psycho-babbling philistine Dr. Phil might say?” And when the answer is yes, I can feel certain that I am telling my patients exactly what they think they paid to hear.
Last of all: Hypnosis, as you will soon learn, is a very important part of my practice. I have studied under esteemed professors who in turn were disciples of Franz Mesmer and Jean-Martin Charcot, among other luminaries. I also took a course at the Colorado Free University. You will be sure to be astounded time and time again at what will follow when, at the end of a session/beginning of an experiment, I plaintively state the galvanizing “key phrase” into the ear of an entranced and unsuspecting patient. The key phrase is: “Get the fuck off my corbusier.”
So, day in and day out, I right the wrongs of a cruel world’s handling of the worrisome and woeful. It is marvelous work, to be sure, but at the end of the day, I find myself wanting to blow off some steam. That “steam” will keep this column, like a magnificent dirigible, aloft. I shall scribe this column from my penthouse office in Lodo weekly, casually recounting a small but tasty vignette plucked from my bountiful research, performed on my unwitting subjects, or, if you like, patients.
Please note: I am well aware of the legal and ethical ramifications involved in sharing confidential patient information. But I am equally aware that doing so is quite a larf!
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Case 0492: Sleeping with the Homeless
Vanessa presented as a pleasant and delightfully mild-mannered 22-year-old nymphomaniac. She was referred to me by my esteemed collegue and sex-advice columnist extraordinaire Ivvy Goldberg, Esq, who found herself flummoxed by the young woman’s predicament when she wrote in for answers.
A product of one of many extramarital affairs by supportive, but distant and long-since-divorced upper-middle-class parents, Vanessa reported being sexually abused at an early age. Her first consensual sexual encounter was at age 13, and by age 17 she had lost count of how many paramours she pleasured. Notwithstanding, she excelled in academics, and only recently dropped out of an undergraduate business program at Carnegie Mellon, having suddenly found herself amidst an existential crisis.
“I’m going be a bag lady living on the street,” she replied defeatedly, when I asked her where she saw herself in 5 years. Bespectacled in black, horn-rimmed glasses, she restlessly stretched atop my corbusier with the countenance of a sultry sex-starved librarian yearning for any schlub with outstanding late fees to do her Dewey-decimal behind the reference stacks. A lesser psychiatrist might have serviced her right then and there. But as I live and breath, I am a man of principle. I would never dream of having sex with a patient unless I was performing the act in the name of science or improved social standing.
“I know why I’m obsessed with sex,” she confided, anxiously grinding her legs as if to suppress the urge to copulate. “It takes my mind off of feeling as helpless as I am.” Without her parents’ waning financial support, she said, she would be destitute, and might even one day consider prostituting herself. In the meantime, she had a safe haven in her old room at her mother’s house in Cherry Hills. She passed her time listlessly, fending off her fear for her future by reading tabloids, watching daytime television, and having sexual liaisons with the hired help.
This young woman, despite being successful in school, lamented that she had never held a job or had to take responsibility for her own well-being. As the only child of financially successful parents, she was provided with whatever fancied her. But she was far from spoiled. She was grateful that her father encouraged her to follow his footsteps as a successful independent businessperson and paid her college tuition. Unfortunately for Vanessa, while the guidance was helpful, her self-professed lack of self-confidence and self-esteem caught up with her at the end of her 3rd year. She came to the sudden and shocking realization that, in her words, she “would not be able to fend for herself in the real world.”
Again, what would a lesser psychiatrist–i.e., virtually every other living psychiatrist–do with such a case? A popular course of action would be to probe into Vanessa’s history of sexual abuse and drawn conclusions about the interplay between her warped libido and fear of being relegated to the streets. But I am not one to be hung-up on such trifles. It is one of my many gifts to not only be able to recognize a cause of suffering, but to instinctively know the right way to treat it.
But my schedule was terribly booked that day, so I sent Vanessa home with an assignment: Read the collective works of Ayn Rand and Simone de Bouvier. When she returned the following week, I did not greet her, but merely gestured her to once again lay her body on the corbusier. Naturally, she did so without question.
Vanessa reacted with much incredulousness to my plan of care, but ultimately consented within minutes after I started the Ativan drip and engaged her with my hypnotic methods. Standing over her, I gingerly explained to her that she would be spending the next 24 hours with Denver’s homeless, and that I would, from afar, document her actions throughout the night. To prophylax her against the high likelihood of STD transmission, piggybacked her drip with some metronidazole and I gave her a couple grams of Valtrex and a handful of Pez to take orally. (The power of placebo is undeniable.) After roughly 3 hours of coaching her through her semi-conscious state, I titrated down the Ativan, left for a few minutes to drop off my dry cleaning, and returned to her side. It was time for the experiment to begin.
“My dear,” I announced, “Get the fuck off my corbusier.”
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Visit the Donnybook Writing Academy next Tuesday for the findings of Case 0492: “Sleeping with the Homeless.”
Editor’s note: Dr. Liebnitz Osgood will play his bass guitar with South of Somewhere at the Bulldog Bar on Friday, March 7th. He will also be performing with Missing DuFrenes at Bushwackers on Saturday, March 8th. He will not be signing copies of his latest book, “Treatise on the Ethics of Arrogance,” at either show. If you would like more information about these performances, please contact Dr. Osgood c/o the Donnybrook Writing Academy.