- July 23rd, 2011
- Write comment
VICTORIA: Thank you, Mr Ritter, for agreeing to speak with me. After the recent… incident with Mr Stone, I didn’t suppose anyone else in the cast would oblige.
AUGUSTIN: It’s Dr Ritter. And I did not ‘agree to speak with you’. That would imply we were going to have a conversation, which we are not.
VICTORIA: Then why would you say you are here, then?
AUGUSTIN: You are going to ask me your questions. I am going to answer them. We will then part ways, and I will never again be obliged to experience the displeasure of your acquaintance.
VICTORIA: I’m sorry you feel that way Mr… Dr Ritter. I certainly did not intend to make you feel at all put out by this request. *pause* It is simply a request, doctor. You are under no obligation to be interviewed.
AUGUSTIN: Look, just ask your God-damned questions and let me get out of here. I’ve much better things to do with my time than waste them with some imbecile psychiatrist.
VICTORIA: If you feel that this is such a waste of your time, perhaps you would care to share with me why you are here?
AUGUSTIN: It has been made clear to me that I should submit to your request for an interview. It is not a matter of choice.
VICTORIA: Very well. Please state your full name for the record.
AUGUSTIN: Augustin Pauleon Ritter, M.D.
VICTORIA: *sigh* I don’t suppose you’d be willing to provide your real name?
AUGUSTIN: Who said that wasn’t my real name?
VICTORIA: I didn’t think so. What is your date of birth?
AUGUSTIN: November the 23rd, 1879.
VICTORIA: Naturally. And where were you born?
AUGUSTIN: Just outside of Boston.
VICTORIA: What was your family life like, as a child?
VICTORIA: Would you care to elaborate at all on ‘fine’?
AUGUSTIN: It was fine.
VICTORIA: We both know that is not what I meant by ‘elaborate’.
AUGUSTIN: Alright, then: perfectly amenable to a child of my temperament.
VICTORIA: Dr Ritter, I am simply trying–
AUGUSTIN: To what? Trick me into letting slip some innocuous word or phrase to describe the primordial soup of childhood, something you can sacrifice on the altar to your trickster, mother-obsessed god, Freud?
VICTORIA: It is not my intention to trick you. This isn’t a psychiatric evaluation. I’m simply attempting to come up with some baseline data for my research.
AUGSTIN: Alright, fine. I suppose I’m curious to see whether modern psychiatry has come up with any new mental maladies to saddle me with. Ask your questions.
VICTORIA: We’ll try it again–what was your family life like, when you were a boy? Did your parents treat you well?
AUGUSTIN: It was perfectly pleasant–I even learned a trade. My surgeon father took me along for house calls after I’d turned twelve. They treated me well enough, raised me as best they could, and they were the first to send me off to the Institution.
VICTORIA: The institution?
AUGUSTIN: The Northampton State Hospital for the Insane.
VICTORIA: I see. And how old were you when you were sent there?
VICTORIA: And why were you institutionalised?
AUGUSTIN: The doctors said I was a menace to society. A corrupting influence. Or that I had the potential to become one, if I wasn’t fixed. So, they sent me off to the hospital. And look at me now: all better.
VICTORIA: Indeed. And how long was your stay at… Northampton?
AUGUSTIN: Two years.
VICTORIA: You said this was the first time you were sent to an institution of that sort. When did you go back?
AUGUSTIN: After the War.
VICTORIA: And which war was this?
AUGUSTIN: The Filipino Insurrection.
VICTORIA: Of course it was. *sigh* And for what were you sent back to the… institution after the war?
AUGUSTIN: My lawyer decided that a stay in Northampton might be more comfortable to me than death by firing squad. The judge agreed.
VICTORIA: And were you ever diagnosed with PTSD? Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?
AUGUSTIN: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder? I didn’t take you for that much an imbecile. That is, as far as I understand, a modern diagnosis for soldiers. And when I was in the military, I did not exactly see action. If you are going to be this stupid, then this interview is done.
VICTORIA: Very well, we can drop the issue. For now. I take it that you received your medical training before the… war?
AUGUSTIN: As I said, my father was a surgeon and I very quickly got used to the sight of blood. When I was released from the Institution, I managed to secure a place in the Harvard Medical College. When the war began, I saw it as my duty to my country to help, and so I enlisted.
VICTORIA: And my I inquire as to your specialty in the medical profession?
AUGUSTIN: If the newspapers are to be believed, butchering innocent civilians to satisfy my own perverse curiosities. But I only briefly had an opportunity to count myself a member of the “medical profession,” during the war. Afterwards I made no attempt to have a career.
VICTORIA: And if you wouldn’t mind sharing, why did you choose to leave the medical profession, doctor?
AUGUSTIN: Because my colleagues disgust me. They are complacent and lazy, possessing no imagination and consequently incapable of making any meaningful contribution to the world.
I tried to make my mark. I tried to accomplish something, and for my efforts have received only mockery, misery, and torment.
To answer your question more concisely: I have left the medical profession, but I have not left medicine.
Which brings me to the question of why I am here talking to you rather than continuing with my work. This interview is over.