Chapter 6, Dr. Mechnikov
“Mechnikov… Russian is it?”
“That is correct Dr. Reichmann—”
“Call me Fred, please. After all, I will hardly be practicing my profession in here – or ever again I would imagine.”
He appears to smile with some ease. Acceptance or Denial? Only time will truly tell. “I learned my lesson long ago… Fred. One never knows what the future might bring.” He returned the smile to the best of his ability. No matter what the background or circumstance for a patient before they arrived, the minute they walked through his doors it was a fresh start, a new beginning. It was his job to treat the patient and their illness, not try to rehabilitate a criminal. The crimes they committed before arriving although often horrific, were irrelevant, simply a manifestation of their mental illness or disease. With proper treatment, a patient could return to society as a healthy, productive citizen, with regular scheduled visits to his or her doctor of course. Treatment could entail a full spectrum of approaches from drugs and behavioral therapy to much more invasive measures when and if the patient failed to respond to the subtler ones.
“Have you settled in well enough? I usually don’t meet with patients until after their first week or so of routine, but with your background as a doctor I thought it would be okay to bend my rules a little. You arrived the day before yesterday, didn’t you?” He knew exactly when the man had stepped toe upon the property, to the last minute as a matter of fact, but it was good to get the patient talking – communicating as quickly as possible.”
“Yes, everything seems fine, or at least as well as can be expected. Given the circumstances I mean.”
He watched the man bow his head in front of him, get quiet. He allowed the scene to play out in front of him without encouragement. That’s the problem these days, with the youngsters, he thought, always trying to obtain immediate results. Always poking, prodding for some reaction or another and in turn, inevitably corrupting the very results they were so eager to get. One must be patient, observe. After all, is that not what Sigmund taught us?
In time, after a good cry, Fredrick Reichmann finally raised his head. “The worst part is – I don’t even remember. Not any of it.”
He stayed silent, waited.
“I mean, technically speaking, I know better. After all, I do know a little of how the mind works.” He gave a weak smile through his tears. “Nevertheless, I must admit it does nothing to prepare you for the reality of the situation. To know that, deep down, you are some kind of monster… a plague on society and your fellow man.”
Now it was time. “Dr. Reichmann, you do know that you’ve been sent to us because you were found ill. Had society felt you had intentionally committed those crimes, you would be in prison now, for so-called rehabilitation.” Dr. Mechnikov had difficulty even saying the word.
He believed there was no chance, whatsoever, of a criminal rehabilitating in the current penal system. The entire system was set up to promote violent and illicit behavior, to teach and encourage hatred, vengeance and prejudice – not rehabilitate them. The mere thought that you could irradiate such behavior by surrounding it with like-minded people in barbarically harsh and hardened conditions was a joke – like putting out the fire with gasoline.
Even so, it kept the public content. A make-shift solution to a problem they could not solve. The government, whoever they might be at the time, could not afford to treat the offenders – not truly, not properly. And you obviously couldn’t release them back into society, not without creating anarchy. Nor could you end their lives under the current social set of beliefs, which, of course, was the wrong answer, but he liked to cover all the bases when he played out this game.
So there you have it – right back to the same place. We lock them up together, away from their more complacent and well-behaved neighbors – to become even more desensitized from society, more violent, toughened, hardened to the scales of moral right and wrong. To fester with hatred and revenge until the day finally comes when they’ve paid their erroneous penance and are released back into the bosom of society and their fellow human beings. Only to, more likely than not, repeat the previous pattern which put them there in the first place. After all, it is all they know – Pavlov’s dog.
“I know all that Dr. Mechnikov, but thank you anyway.”
“Your welcome, Fred.”
“It’s just that… how do you forgive yourself? I don’t know that I ever can. Even though I have no memory, no recollection that it was even me.”
“We shall deal with all that in time. For now, let’s just make certain you are settled in.”
It was a remarkably good start.