Monday, December 16, 2013

Part Seventy-Seven, Chapters Four and Five - Neglect Is the Best Therapy

Chapter Four starts with a borderline artsy sentence as "the searching fingers of the sun pried gently" at Madison's eyelids.  In his half-awake state, the publicist reflects that a main function of newspapers is "to cause trouble and worry people.  Thus, it followed, a primary intention of all Earth media is to make people go mad."  Because I guess it's impossible to feel anxious and not go insane.

But speaking of madness, Madison realizes that he's never even heard of a Voltarian psychologist, much less any field dedicated to curing (or causing) insanity.  So he barges into Flick's room, wakes the guy up, and proceeds to interrogate the center of a Twa and Cun sandwich... I still can't get over those names.  Seriously, Hubbard?

Flick crawled weakly down to the foot of the bed and sat, too spent to progress further.  He said, "The insane?  Let's see.  Well, when they say somebody is insane, it's not very hard to figure out they're right.  They get staring eyes and rush about or flop.  They don't know anybody and, when they talk, they say crazy things.  So they send them to a big prison far up north and that's that."

Huh.  So the author thinks that a society that criminalizes mental disorders is superior to one with a medical discipline dedicated to treating them? 

"What happens if they get well?"

"Get well?  That's a funny term.  You mean if they go sane again?  Well, if that happens, they watch them for a while and then they let them out."

Oh, so it's not a prison prison, it's just a place people can rest and recuperate until they're better!  That happens to be a dungeon far from civilization. 

"You mean they don't shock them or operate on their brains?"

"For pity's sakes, why?  

Because you can fix brain problems.  Your society invented the hypno-helmet!  Why is this a strange concept?!

How come somebody should punish them? 

If they're not being punished then why are they in prison?!

They don't work on them or touch them at all.  I had a cousin once was sent to the Insane Detention Camp on Calabar: he went crazy as a gyro with half a wheel gone.  They kept him for half a year, didn't do a thing but feed him, and then they let him back out.  He was all sane again.  I'm sure glad they didn't damage him: my aunt would have raised a thousand Devils if they had."

The Hubbard cure for mental health problems: lock 'em up somewhere until they're no longer insane.  Be sure to check on them from time to time, make sure they're not out of kibble.

Flick of course hasn't heard of a psychiatrist, and makes to get up and grab some breakfast, until Twa lets him know that he's not hungry yet.  Madison steps out to avoid a sex scene that doesn't involve rape, a corpse, or a minor, and decides to take an infodump on us.

The idea he had had was not really his.  It was a historic milestone of the PR trade.  It had come to him when he realized the primary purpose of Earth media was to make people go mad.  And this had jarred into view one of the PR triumphs of the century.

The American Psychiatric Affiliates, many decades ago, had had a terrible problem with the media.  At that time, nobody in his right mind would print anything serious about psychiatrists; the breed was regarded as just a bunch of vicious fakes and quacks, destructive at the very least with their electric shocks and murders.

Unlike now, when... everyone who deals with them know psychiatrists are destructive and crazy.  Good job, PR.

But PR had saved the day.  In league with the World Federation of Mental Stealth--an organization composed of ex-Nazis who had murdered the millions of Jews as well as all the "insane" in Germany, and who were running from the Allied forces--the American Psychiatric Affiliates had pulled the most cunning coup of the age.

So is the implication that all Jews are insane?  Well, the only example in the book is suicidally depressed...

They had done such a marvelous job on the media that now, today, a psychiatrist could commit murder several times a day, including Sunday,

But that's when the Bible says they should be resting after their week of murders!

and could do anything, even exhibit himself in front of children, and the media and every page and frame of it would praise him to the skies and say how scientific and necessary it all was.

Yes, their PR procedure had indeed worked and continued to work.  Resoundingly, psychiatry and psychology were now considered totally above all law and even the highest in the land licked their scruffy, bloodstained boots.

So psychiatrist Nazis were only taken seriously when PR mercenaries convinced the newspapers that murder and indecent exposure were scientific, making politicians and other elites into psychiatry's slaves.  Got it.

The psychiatry-PR alliance is so fundamental that of course Madison didn't think of it until now, but anyway, he knows he needs a psychiatrist.  He can't raise Lombar on the videophone, and when he gets an information officer he's directed to report in person to Camp Kill.  Flick of course assumes they're due to be tossed in the chasm.  When they land, he laments that he reformed just in time to be executed thinking of Hightee Heller.  Cun hits him.  It is very amusing.

They're eventually greeted by Captain Snelz, who the narrator is nice enough to remind us is the jolly good friend of Krak and Heller from way the hell back in Book One.  He gets chatty when he sees Madison's unlimited pay grade and demands that he and his men get a round in at the canteen, where they make conversation about Blito-P3, Heller and "his lady."  Madison tries to BS his way through it but reveals that he's no true friend of Heller by not knowing that Krak is more than 5'2", but the guard doesn't make anything of it.  For now.  Surely something will happen later to justify this encounter.

Then Madison's sent to see the head clerk, who he butters up as the type of person who really runs things around places like this, and asks for any blackmail material on those snooty publishers.  The Apparatus' sophisticated spy network has revealed such nuggets as "Lady Mithin this morning accused her husband of being an unreasonable boor when he complained the jolt was not hot," so Madison will have his work cut out for him.

He then asks about psychiatrists, or psychologists, or psychoanalysts, or anyone dealing with mental illness - "That's a funny term.  Mental things don't have any germs or virus connected..."  But then the clerk remembers a fellow named Crobe, who was blathering all about that sort of thing when he returned from Blito-P3.  And so Madison is given an order of custody for the mad doctor, bringing another unappealing character back into the story.

Yes, soon Madison will have his psychiatrist, so that... wait.  It was psychology that was in dire straights before PR came along to save its reputation, not the other way around.  How the hell is this supposed to help?  Madison's chain of thought was that news makes people worried, which makes them crazy, which... evidently means he needs a psychiatrist to make them better?  Or crazier?

How will this make Heller famous again?  Hello?  Author?  What is the logic behind your plot?

Back to Chapter Three


  1. Neglect being the best therapy is what Scientologists believe. That, of course, was what did for Lisa McPherson.

  2. "Madison steps out to avoid a sex scene that doesn't involve rape, a corpse, or a minor," I absolutely love this line.

  3. …because Hubbard truly believed you could cure psychotic breaks through imprisonment and neglect based on one case he oversaw on his boat, and the Introspection Rundown became official Scientology policy.