Utoponil

Martin Labuschagne

Utoponil – 2018 © Martin Labuschagne

Wetenskapfiksie

 

Daar is ‘n gefladder van papiere en wit jasse soos die nuwe psigiatrie studente agter Professor Doctor Franz T. Smalberger deur die Xenophobie vleuel van die Manto Tshabalala-Msimang Hospitaal loop. Hy stop eers toe hulle die ontvangsarea van die saal bereik en hy wag terwyl die studente om hom ‘n half-sirkel vorm. Die studente is reg met hulle penne om elke woord van die geleerde professor te ontvang. Almal behalwe Marius Troskie, wie nie besonders beïndruk lyk met die lesing nie. Hy is die mees senior student onder die studente met grys kolle rondom sy haarlyn. Na ‘n loopbaan as ‘n dokter in die weermag het hy besluit om op sy ouderdom te spesialiseer in ‘n veld waarin hy nog altyd in belang gestel het, naamlik psigiatrie, maar hy wonder nou of die kool die sous werd is.
Die geleerde dokter professor Franz T. Smalberger begin praat.
“Now, after we have been through the section for the criminally insane and you thought you have seen the worst of mentally ill, we now come to the Xenophobic.”
Almal skryf neer wat hy sê.
“These patients are our most dangerous…”
“Well, Professor, do you seriously believe that they are dangerous?” onderbreek Marius en kry skerp kyke van die ander studente.
“They might not be violent now, but they carry with them the propensity for the most horrendous sort of violence, comparable only to sexual violence, namely racial violence.” Professor Smalberger kyk direk vir Marius toe hy die woorde ‘racial violence’ sê om die punt tuis te bring.
Marius voeg gou ‘n volgende vraag by: “But Professor, is institutionalisation really a neccessity?”
“Well, Dr Troskie, it is not only imperative for medical reasons it is also demanded by the authorities. As you can recall that after the proclamation of the ‘Prevention of Racial Violence and Related Social Deviance Act’ of 2019 it is a statutory obligation of all psychiatrists and other health workers to report any signs of xenophobic behaviour to the local police station so that the necessary court order can be obtained to remove such an individual to a safe surrounding for treatment. I want everybody to remember that it is not only good, sound medical practice, but law to report xenophobes.”
Na hierdie lang antwoord staar die dokter en Marius na mekaar vir ‘n oomblik of twee. Al die ander studente neem vlytig notas van die dokter se kommentaar. Toe dit lyk asof almal klaar geskryf het gaan die dokter voort: “Let’s proceed now to view the different treatment methods we employ at our facility.”
Die professor lei almal by ‘n gang met vensters af. Hy stop by die eerste venster wat duidelik ‘n twee-rigting spieël om in die vertrek in te kyk. Binne is twee mense besig met ‘n soort terapie-sessie. Die een persoon is geklee in die standaard ligblou oorpak van die hospitaal en is duidelik ‘n pasiënt. Die ander persoon is ‘n skraal vrou in ‘n kort rokkie wat kruisbeen sit. Sy blyk met die pasiënt te gesels. Hy weer sit met sy arms gevou en staar na die vloer.
“Our first line of treatment is extensive psychotherapy to bring the patient to acknowledge the problem and to develop insight into the harmful consequences of the disorder. We have found that cognitive behavioural therapy is the most effective therapy in treating this disorder. The patient is shown the irrationality of his fear and assisted in forming positive experiences of people of other races.”
Terwyl die ander studente griffel, skud Marius net sy kop. Dokter Smalberger gluur hom aan. Toe dit weer blyk dat almal klaar geskryf het, sê die professor: “Follow me”. Hy loop na die volgende venster en almal vorm ‘n halfsirkel rondom hom. In hierdie kamer is ‘n kring van wit mans wat luister terwyl een van hulle praat.
“As a second line of treatment, we also encourage our patients to regularly attend group-therapy to help them integrate their psychotherapy into their daily lives. You see, we find that although the CBT is initially successful, when the patients are released into civil society they tend to relapse back into old behavioural patterns. So therefor we have created XA – Xenophobe Anonymous – to act as self-maintaining, self-perpetuating support group for people suffering from this disorder.”
‘n Dame steek haar hand op. “What if the second line is also ineffective? What would the next step of treatment be?”
Die dokter lig sy wenkbroue. “Well, there is a rather controversial procedure applied currently with many human rights organisation up in arms about it, but it has proven to be the breakthrough that we have long hoped for. Will you please follow me so that I can demonstrate?”
Die dokter en sy kudde, wat ‘n teensinnige dokter Marius Troskie insluit, trippel na die einde van die gang. Hier staan die dokter eers stil voor ‘n stel teaterdeure en kondig aan: “We are in luck. There is a procedure in process at this very moment.”
Hulle gaan nog ‘n kamer met ‘n twee-rigtingspieël binne, maar die ander kant is ‘n soort sjirurgiese teater. In die middel van die vertrek is ‘n bed met ‘n televisie gemonteer teen die muur. Op die bed lê ‘n man in ‘n groen teaterjurk. Sy hande en voete is vasgebind aan die raam van die bed met leergespes terwyl sy kop in plek gehou word met ‘n stel bande om sy kroon, ken en nek. Dit is duidelik dat sy kop in die rigting van die televisieskerm gerig is. Op hierdie stadium is die skerm dood. ‘n Stel drade is aan sy liggaam geheg op verskillende punte: sy enkels, sy buik, sy hande en gesig, welke drade op hul beurt weer lei na ‘n gesofistikeerde masjien met ‘n verskeidenheid liggies wat blykbaar aandui of ‘n sekere draad aangeskakel is of nie. Langs die masjien is ‘n sleutelbord met ‘n rekenaarskerm. ‘n Man in ‘n wit jas, skynbaar ‘n dokter, voer ‘n program in die rekenaar, terwyl die ander personneel, met sjirugriese maskers en drag, besig is met die pasiënt. ‘n Verpleegster kom die vertrek binne met ‘n trollie waarop ‘n stel verskillende metaal inspuitings lê. Een van die personneel vat ‘n inspuiting, tik verbeelde borrels uit en spuit die pasiënt, wat wakker is maar wanhopig lyk, in. Sy ooglede fladder voordat hy net voor homself uitstaar. “Now that the preparations have been finalised the main procedure can follow,” merk dokter Smalberger op, terwyl almal nuuskierig kyk hoe die drama voor hulle ontvou. Al die teater personneel kyk skielik na die televisieskerm. ‘n Paar prentjies verskyn op die skerm – eers is hulle uit fokus en dan word hulle stadig gestel totdat die skerm lees ‘Phase 1”
“The patient has been sufficiently drugged to assure that he would feel the minimum pain and that he would be able to withstand the whole process.”
Die personneel verlaat die vertrek. Net ‘n verpleegster en die dokter, wat die sleutelbord beman, bly agter. Die verpleegster is besig met die masjien wat die pasiënt se vitale tekens monitor.
Die dokter sug en druk ‘n knoppie. ‘n Stel prente begin op die skerm te flits en gelyktydig met elke prent word ‘n skok toegedien aan die pasiënt. Sy liggaam ruk liggies met elke skok. Marius kan van die prente uitmaak: swastikas, Pruisiese kruise, wit vuiste. Asof dokter Smalberger sy gedagtes kan lees, sê hy: “The patient is shown a whole complex of images associated with racial hatred accompanied with a shock to cause a natural aversion to them.”
‘n Hand word opgesteek. ‘n Indiër vrou vra: “But, doctor, the patient is sedated? How can he form an aversion response to the images?”
“Oh, that is the beauty of the treatment. The response of aversion is inserted subliminally. The patient would have no memory whatsoever of the painful shocks, but would have a different attitude after phase two has been completed…”
“Phase two?” vra ‘n ander student.
“Yes, the follow-up phase where we reprogram the subconscious mind to have a positive appraisal of the specific race of who the patient has a phobia.” Almal neem weer aantekeninge.
“And how is that achieved, doctor?” vra ‘n derde persoon, hierdie keer ‘n swart man.
Die dokter lyk in sy noppies om ‘n geleentheid gegun te word om te verduidelik. “Well, the reverse of what is done here is, is applied. The patient is shown a set of pictures depicting the race he fears and is fed a set of pleasant stimulations via electrical current.”
Almal lyk beïndruk terwyl hulle griffel
Dan vra Marius skielik: “But what if the fear is based on reality?”
“What do you mean?”
“Simply: what if the fear is due to a traumatic experience with people of other races, say black persons and his phobic reaction is a normal defensive strategy towards any future danger?”
Almal lyk geskok deur hierdie vreemde voorstel.
“I still don’t get your point,” dring die dokter aan.
“It could be that the patient’s so called fears are in fact natural and rational responses to threatening situations. These sensations might actually be necessary for the organism, in this case our human patient, to cope with potentionally dangerous situations. Has anyone actually checked into the grounds for his fear? Maybe shock-reflex treatment is not knocking sense into the patient, but knocking sense out of him.”
“I see where this is going, doctor Troskie and I am not going to allow it during my lectures. Please come and see me afterwards in my office,” sê dokter Smalberger skerp en lig sy vinger as ‘n waarskuwinsgebaar. Marius kink instemmend.
Die res van die lesing is in ‘n meer bedeesde trant terwyl die dokter die kennis van die wyshere van psigiatrie aan hulle oordra. Die genot waarmee hy alles verduidelik het, het verdwyn en hy het nou ‘n geirriteerde houding. Toe almal uitmekaar gaan, wag Marius vir die dokter. Daar was ‘n ongemaklike atmosfeer tussen die twee mans.
“Please follow me to my office,” beveel die dokter eenvoudig en loop vooruit. Hulle loop deur ‘n doolhof van gange en kom uiteindelik by die dokter se kantoor, agter ‘n grys deur, uit.
“After you,” sê die dokter en laat Marius binnegaan. Marius is nie verras deur die kantoor nie, want dit lyk maar baie soos sy eie. Daar is ‘n boekrak met verskeidenheid van boeke en artikels, meestal parafernalia van die psigiatriese establishment.
Wat wel interesant is, is die afskrif van ‘n skildery wat die Toring van Babel uitbeeld. Marius frons hieroor – hy probeer dink hoe hierdie kunswerk enigiets met die psigiatrie uit te waai het.
Die dokter gaan sit agter sy lessenaar waarop ‘n menslike skedel pryk. Hy beduie vir Marius om ook te sit. Nadat Marius gaan sit het en ‘n paar sekondes verbygetik het, sê die dokter: “So, doctor Troskie, how can you possibly deny that Xenophobia is a delusion?”
Marius maak sy keel skoon en begin veruidelik: “Well, doctor. I started having a few doubts a while back. Say about three months ago. I was working late one evening at the hospital when I drove home at about 4:30 the morning when I was hijacked by three black men at a stop street…”
“Yes….?” Doctor Smalberger frons.
“Thereafter, I was fearful and hateful towards black people in general to such an extent that it influenced my relationship with my black colleagues. I was rude to them and generally irritated by their behaviour. I started analysing my change in conduct and concluded that I was forming a defence mechanism against black people in order to protect myself physically in future against another assault. In other words, I realised that my fear was based on a real experience and therefore a valid response…”
“Surely, doctor Troskie, you can’t be serious.”
“Why not? All the behavioural literature acknowledges that a fear response has some basis in reality and therefore a natural reaction.”
“It is not the same thing,” dring die dokter aan.
“How can it not be?”
“Doctor, I can’t believe you are thinking this, nevermind saying it. Remember the Nazi’s? Remember the massacre of 6 million…?” (hy beklemtoon die ‘6 million’) “…And all this due to the xenophobia that you want to defend? Imagine, doctor, how many lives could have been saved had the disorder been identified earlier. The Holocaust would simply never have happened.”
“But that is not what I was intending, I simply wanted to question the validity…”
Die dokter val hom summier in die rede: “Well, that would be the outcome of this fear if it goes undetected and untreated.” Die dokter druk sy vinger op die tafel. “…And this could lead to another horrific situation like the Holocaust, Apartheid, not even to mention the surge of attacks in Great Britain on Pakistani youths in the summer of 2013. Remember that?”
Marius trek sy skouers op. Nou lyk hy skaam oor sy voorstelle.
Dokter Smalberger sit triomfantlik terug in sy stoel, terwyl Marius skaapagtig af kyk na die grond.
“Are you aware that the xenophobic disorder manifests itself also as a denial regarding the classification of Xenophobia? As if your mind is denying the delusion of racist violence?” voeg dokter Smalberger by.
Marius sug diep. “I don’t know doctor, it’s just that lately I doubt the validity of the disorder…”
“You are suspicious of the definition of the disorder?”
Marius is huiwerig om te antwoord, maar die woorde glip deur sy lippe uit. “Yes.”
Met die self-versekering wat net ‘n dokter kan hê, knik dokter Smalberger. “It sounds like a text book case of xenophobic denial coupled with a recent traumatic experience causing deeper suspicion. Are you aware of that?”
Marius kyk af na sy hande. “Yes, I am aware of that.”
“Are you currently being treated for this?”
“No, I am not.” Hy bly na sy hande kyk.
Weer knik die dokter en trek ‘n skryfblok nader. Hy begin iets skryf en toe hy klaar is, oorhandig hy dit aan Marius, wat dit huiwerig vat.
“This is a prescription for Utoponil,” sê die dokter.
“Utoponil…?” Marius is verwonderd.
“Yes, it is a new selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. It would help you ease your fears for…you know, for blacks and other races. I am taking them myself.”
“Do they work?”
“Like a dream.”
“Thank you, doctor,” sê Marius.