Magazine | December 19, 2011, Issue

Bethesda Mental Health Clinic

Behavioral Modification Unit

Doctor’s Notes

Patient: N. Gingrich

Insurance Number: Blue Cross/College Health A7YXX Group: 107

Nov. 11, 2011

Patient arrives on time — this is starting to be a habit with him. When questioned, he insists that he has made such progress on his egocentric issues — grandiosity, messianic complex, automatic talking, Baron Munchausen — that he has come to realize that showing up late so consistently was an ego-driven power choice. Doctor compliments Patient on his insight. Patient requests more Ziprasidone. He feels that he’s on the brink of making “a big move” into the top tier of the Republican primary candidates, but when he says this, he smiles sheepishly. This suggests great progress on the part of Patient. For the first time in over a decade of treatment, he shows signs of self-awareness. Will consider upping the Ziprasidone and perhaps supplementing with another anti-psychotic without weight-gain side effects.

Nov. 18, 2011

Patient again arrives on time. Is ebullient and upbeat. Accompanying him is his wife, Callista, which is of course a violation of the therapeutic frame. When Doctor mentions this break from convention, Patient and wife both insist that “as a team” they need to be in total sync with Patient’s treatment. Both seem to feel that great progress has been made. Patient is able to speak extemporaneously for less than eleven minutes, and has modeled normal human behavior so effectively that he is now within a few percentage points of the current Republican frontrunner. They credit Doctor, which is gratifying, though Doctor is aware that this could also be flattery strategically delivered in order to obtain a more powerful prescription for Ziprasidone or even Quetiapine. Patient has negotiated serious social challenges with great skill and grace. Doctor has observed his behavior in many debate settings, and can report that he is currently displaying immense and impressive self-control for a person suffering his level of mental illness. Answering questions, acknowledging the physical presence of others, making wry and self-aware comments, all suggest that the current dosage is correct.

On the other hand, Patient is displaying hostility toward all members of the press corps, which suggests chemical imbalance in the behavior-modulating functions. Patient is fixated on the false solution of increasing the anti-psychotic medications and does not respond well to Doctor’s suggestion that the meds will be more effective with increased exercise, meditation, and light therapy.

#page#Patient then launches into what promises to be a long disquisition on alternative medicines, dinosaurs, and Alvin Toffler’s Third Wave principles, but catches himself in the middle of saying the word

“Pachycephalosaurus” and smiles slightly. Patient still has a long way to go.

Nov. 25, 2011

Patient arrives on time, in semi-euphoric state. Reports to Doctor that he has “transformed” himself from an also-ran in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Patient then laughs loudly.

“Get me,” he says, “using the word ‘transformed’!”

Patient is pleasant and relaxed. He exhibits great cheerfulness and regulated, socialized ego-strength. When Doctor speaks, Patient is clearly listening, and even makes responses that are based on and build upon what Doctor has just said, reflecting a true “conversational exchange,” which Patient has been unable to do for the past decade.

Recent polls have Patient showing great strength as a candidate. When Doctor asks about increased anxiety levels, or episodes of reversion to past delusional, psychotic behavior, Patient smiles, laughs loudly, and proclaims that he has found a “technological solution.”

Patient rolls up his sleeve and displays on his bare forearm a coil of copper wire attached to a small transmitting device. He then reveals a tiny microphone placed beneath his shirt.

“Watch this,” he says. And he then proceeds to tell Doctor about the “historical destiny of a transformational figure called Newt Gingrich,” but before he finishes the sentence, the coils spark, and a powerful electric shock surges through his body.

Doctor is dumbfounded. This is the root of Patient’s recent progress? Simple aversion therapy?

Patient nods happily. Patient’s wife, Callista, enters carrying a large laptop computer with a transmitting device attached to it. Patient tells Doctor that the laptop is programmed to recognize any “weird” behavior or “off-putting” language from Patient, and will automatically trigger a shock response.

“Got me through the debates. Got me to right behind Mitt.”

Doctor is forced to admit that he’s impressed.

“I developed the algorithm myself,” Patient says. “I am actually a self-taught genius in the areas of — ”

And the coils spark again. The faint scent of burned flesh hangs in the air. Patient smiles happily.

Rob Long — Rob Long, Hollywood writer and producer, started his career as a screenwriter for the TV show Cheers. He is a regular writer for National Review, Newsweek International, and the Los ...

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