A guest authored edgy essay by Robert Whyte
This week I had my regular check up with my mental hygienist. I trust him with my innermost thoughts. He has a very clean mind himself and he wants to keep it that way. And mine. Whether I like it or not.
Yes, a mental hygienist specialises in preventative checkups and the best advice for optimum mental health, but most of all it’s about a good spring clean, dust and scrub, especially in the dark recesses where things can get really nasty.
Really, it’s much more than a checkup. It’s a cerebral backyard blitz and a total makeover for the cerebellum, hypothalamus and pituitary. I hate the part when he’s flossing the pituitary, I get hot flushes of hunger, parenting and attachment behaviours, thirst, fatigue, sleep and circadian rhythms. Sometimes they are so funky I want to get up and dance but it’s not possible, due to the restraints.
It’s all smiles and shining freckles while he starts checking me out, but if he spots any sign of bad thinking, he purses his lips with a disappointed “Tut tut” or “Tsk tsk” and shakes his head sadly.
But this gentle, caring, solicitous manner is all for show. In reality he is a mind makeover maniac on full alert, a cerebral commando armed with prejudice, chock full of the angry pills and fired up to defcon 5 for a full barrage of psychological, psychiatric and philosophical attacks on any lurking bad ideas rotting in cavities, spreading decay. It’s like the Normandy Invasion, an all-out assault except without the soldiers, boats, rifles, artillery and air cover.
“Have you been thinking good thoughts regularly?” he asks. Is that an accusatory lip quiver? Can he smell something on my breath? Seinfeld? Surely he can’t detect that depressive weekend when I ran out of episodes of Game of Thrones to download from Pirate Bay? That was weeks ago.
He might be making it worse. If he makes me feel guilty, bad, shameful or weak I might feel compelled to confess to things I haven’t even thought. Yet. How could that be? I might be repressed. Would that help?
“Dreams?” he says, innocently enough.
“Hasn’t that been debunked?” I say, but it comes sounding like “Hamnedatben nemunked?” because he’s got the spelunking gear fastened into my optic nerves via the nostrils.
“Oh yes,” he says (and don’t they love to wax eloquent when you can only say things in a strangled mumble). “Totally discarded, it’s all about immaterial under-personality-wear transference these days. I was just curious.”
“I thrsamd nynother worsa fesh nigh wussa maybe goath,” which was supposed to be, “I dreamed my mother was a fish and I was a baby goat.”
He ignores me, getting some leverage with the grappling anvil and yanking at something.
“Just lie as quiet and still as you can, through your teeth if you must, imagine you are a snake in the grass, or Donald Trump, I have a tricky obsessional trope to deal with here. I might have to numb you up.”
Sure, sometimes he numbs me up, but it’s not usually necessary. Only when he strips down to battle armour and goes in with a cleaver, or a volume of Coleridge, or both, intent on slaying my naked screaming Id and going a few rounds with my superego for good measure.
I wouldn’t miss it for quids. I had a great female hygienist for a while. What was her name? Kübler-Kahn, or Kinga Göncz, or something like that. I’m sure it had an umlaut. Shouldn’t that be spelled ümlaut? Anyway, for the past few years I’ve been seeing Carl, who has over 12 years of experience as a “Mental Hygienist and Removalist of Troublesome Notions” in Switzerland and Australia. He moved to Australia two years ago with his Swiss partner (a cutlery designer), their two children and a small dog named Poodle, who is an existentialist, which means she denies the existence of poo. The poodle, not the cutlery designer. Carl is a phenomenologist, which means he is really awesome.
It’s the whole shebang, synapse sparkling, perkinjie cell polishing, solipsism, right-brain left-brain fissure sealants, acetylcholine treatments and the application of brain-waves in places that haven’t seen a good surf since last summer. We don’t talk about the amygdala. It’s hard enough to pronounce. He did a quick pre-frontal lobotomy on my first visit and things have been hazy since. In a good way.
He works Monday 9–2.30pm and Wednesday 2–6pm. He is able to spend that little bit longer with patients, giving us a sweeping brush off with no negative after effects. We leave feeling fresh, clean and ready to start tackling the big questions of life safe in the knowledge that our minds can take it.
APP Editors’ Note:
Robert Whyte is an Australian scientist, author, editor, and journalist. His works include modernist fiction, political satire, arachnology, science journalism, and books. He is currently working on a slew of invertebrate taxonomy projects and a bunch of unfinished novels.
You can find out more about him and his work HERE.
Mr Nemo, X, Y, & Z, 25 June 2018
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