Working Title: All Face – Session Two

Very rough title. Again, this is a rough draft, with next to no editing. If people like it, I’ll post more (that means you have to comment). At some point I have to get a beta-reader with experience in mental health stuff so these can be more like therapy and less like chatting, but that’ll wait (I have a bunch more research and prepwork to do too, but that’ll also wait).

            Neill prepared for his upcoming session with John Doe #3. In the previous weekly staff meeting, one of his colleagues had suggested running him through the usual tests. Neill had considered it briefly, at the very least as something to do, but ultimately discarded the idea. The attempts with previous doctors had been met with unresponsive silence. He had no illusions about being any luckier.

He had scoured the patients’ file for any possible lead at all and come up with nothing new. But he set his shoulders and walked into the therapy office. He sat down and waited for the patient to arrive.

John Doe was escorted in a few minutes later and properly secured.

Neill noticed the patient was actually watching him, unlike the previous week when he had stared straight ahead just about the entire session. It set a spark of hope in his chest, but he resolved not to get overeager and possibly ruin any potential progress.

“Good afternoon,” Neill said.

The patient didn’t respond, but he hadn’t really expected him to. The patient’s gaze snapped to straight ahead.

Unsure of what tack to take, Neill said the first thing to enter his mind. “Your case is quite interesting.”

“I doubt it,” the patient said flatly.

“It is actually. Most people who come in for the kind of reasons you did tend to be more than glad to talk about themselves, usually ceaselessly. You don’t fit the pattern, and that’s always interesting.”

The patient was watching him again, out of the corner of his eyes. Neill continued. He knew he was almost rambling, but at least it was better than the stone walled silence of last week.

“Patients like you are usually diagnosed with personality disorders. It hasn’t even been offered in your case, which is almost a hopeful sign, because personality disorders are generally nearly impossible to treat.”

The patient tilted his head a fraction of an inch. “Dr. Tross wanted to write a book about me.”

Dr. Tross was the first doctor assigned to John Doe #3. Tross had since retired, on profits from books he had written about his various patients. It turned out, true crime, especially involving mental disorders, sold very well.

Neill shrugged slightly. “I’m not much of a writer.”

The rest of the session was spent in silence. A few minutes before the guards came, the patient repeated his apparent mantra and Neill had responded with his prior explanation of why that couldn’t happen.

There was no evidence of that session being any more productive than the previous, but Neill felt like something had been accomplished, and he had learned to trust those feelings early in his career.

His other patients were routine – patients with anger management issues that could likely be resolved and patients who were, in all evidence, destined to spend the rest of their lives in the institution, but he had hope to improve their behavior enough that they wouldn’t be spending every other month in segregation. John Doe #3, it seemed, was his most challenging, but that was, more or less, how the duty rosters were set. He took professional interest in all his patients, of course, and their progress, but one could not help but think about the challenging ones more than others.

He had interviewed the general staff about John Doe #3’s behavior outside his sessions. He followed the routine without problems. He had no allergies, although there were a few foods he routinely avoided. From all appearances he was a model inmate, the kind that security forces dreamed of. That sort of perfect behavior was extremely unusual in this kind of institution. But he didn’t speak, unless he had to, and then no more than absolutely necessary. He showed no emotion. Neill had reports of being in fights, but the details clarified that as another patient attacking him and John Doe #3 letting himself be attacked. Of course, this disparity between his behavior here and his behavior before he was admitted was a significant matter of interest to his previous doctors, as well as the current staff. Neill found himself interested more in one aspect of it: why? Why the unresponsiveness, the lack of emotion, the monotone?


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