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Beat me, said the masochist.
No, said the sadist.
Gregory Bateson describes “the double bind” as part of the ecology of schizophrenia. I like this joke as a brief translation:
A woman buys her husband two ties for Christmas. They spend a pleasant Christmas morning drinking coffee as they open their presents. The wife says she’ll start to prepare breakfast. The husband slips upstairs, showers, shaves, and dresses in a Sunday suit, carefully knotting one of the Christmas ties. With shinning face and erect bearing, he descends the stairs.
“What’s the matter,” his wife demands, “didn’t you like the other one?”
A psychiatrist was conducting a group therapy session with four mothers and their small children. “You all have obsessions” he observed.
To the first mother, he said, “you are obsessed with eating and you’ve even named your daughter Candy.”
He turned to the second mom, “your obsession is with money, again it manifests itself in your child’s name: Penny.”
He turns to the third mom, “Your obsession is alcohol, this too manifests itself in your child’s name: Brandy.”
At this point the fourth mother gets up, takes her little boy by the hand and whispers, “Come on, Dick: we’re leaving.”
Guy is picked up for looking suspicious around the display window of the mens underwear shop. Cops send him to a shrink for evaluation. Shrink gives him a Rorshack test: “What’s this?”
“It’s a guy fucking a nun.”
“A bull sticking his nose in a cow’s twat?
“And what’s this?”
“Teenagers gang banging a girl they found at the mall.”
Eventually the shrink puts his standard set of ink blots aside. He takes pencil and paper and draws a single dot just randomly positioned on the sheet. Unable to conceal his growing agitation, he sticks it in front of the guy. “And what’s this?”
Guy is driving along. Things get rural. Things get country. He hasn’t passed a house or business in miles. He notices a fence: high walls, barbed wire, goes on and on. Trees shade the road. It’s getting dark on top of that. He sees a sign: Braintree Insane Asylum. And sure enough, his tire blows.
Guy hobbles toward the shoulder, hauls out the jack, pops off the hubcap, loosens the lugs. The shoulder is soft so he has trouble seating the jack. None too secure, the car looming ditchward, he jacks it just enough to clear the tread off the ground and removes the lugs. He places them carefully in the hubcap, gets the spare.
As the guy wrestles the flat off the axel he feels the hairs stiffen on the nape of his neck. Gloom is deepening. He feels eyes, watching him. He wrestles with the tires, looks around, wrestles some more. Just as he’s gotten a couple of holes lined up with the threaded bolts, take some of the weight off his hands, snug the thing in place, he sees a man, pale moon face, other side of the fence, barbed fence, maybe electrified, looking at him. The wheel slips. He staggers, shuffles, tips the hubcap with his heel. The lugs scatter, disappear in the weeds. He lunges for them, sees the drain too late. They fall into silence.
He feels the guy looking at him. He steals a glance himself. The guy is dressed simply, neatly; but it doesn’t seem to be a uniform. The guy’s no orderly, no nurse, no doctor. Jesus, he’s out in the wilderness with a madman!
“Braintree Insane Asylum. Mister, I may be crazy; but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid.”
Father asks his kid what he wants for Christmas. Kis says a tennis racket.
Christmas morning comes. Sure enough, there’s a racket under the tree with the kid’s name on it.
Father asks the kid of all his presents which is his favorite. Kids says the tennis racket. Father takes the racket from the kid, a wooden racket in those days, and beats it against the irons in the fireplace till it breaks.
The kids is crying. The father asks him to guess why he did what he did. The kid has no answer, only weeping.
Because, the father says. I’ve just saved you thousands and thousands of dollars, years of bewilderment and worry. When you grow up, you go to the shrink, the shrink asks you about your childhood memories. Then and there you tell him that I broke your favorite tennis racket. You can leave before the fifty minutes are up. In and out, over and done.