Counterphobia

Counterphobia

Topic: Impossible Dream                                             Author: Ron Campbell                                                                                          Email: soarfeat@gmail.com

 

COUNTERPHOBIA

SETTING:

 

A Psychiatrist’s Office

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Susan

Dr. Tweed

(The lights come up on SUSAN, 30’s, attractive, lying on the couch in a well-appointed psychiatrist office. Dr. Tweed, 40’s is perched on the edge of his desk, taking notes. Perhaps smoking a pipe.)

SUSAN

– And there was blood. Sure, of course there was blood. You don’t fall from that kind of height without some blood. So I’m lying there, in the dirt. With all this blood spreading out from me. So on top of my Barophobia-

 

DR.TWEED

Fear of gravity-

 

SUSAN

-And my Rupophobia-

 

DR.TWEED

Fear of dirt-

 

SUSAN

All this blood is making my Ereuthophobia kick in-

 

DR.TWEED

Fear of the color red.

 

SUSAN

Exactly. So I start to crawl. And this is the weird part: no pain. I’m pulling my mangled body- and you know my Dysmorphophobia-

 

DR.TWEED

Fear of body deformation.

 

SUSAN

-But I’m feeling absolutely no pain. So I start walking! Half my ribcage is caved in, my face looks like some cubist painting by Picasso, one of my eyes is dangling from some optic nerves where my goddamn ear should be and I’m walking down this street like nothing happened!

Plus I have this kind of split-screen vision. With my one eye that’s still in it’s socket, I look ahead, while my other eye, which is kind of bouncing against my cheek, gives me a view of what’s in my hands. And that’s when I notice it.

 

DR.TWEED

Notice what, Susan?

 

SUSAN

In my hands. It’s a little plastic bucket. It’s orange. With a black handle. I’m walking towards some lights at the end of the street. I can hear music coming from up ahead. While my other eye looks down past the bucket at my shuffling feet. Not good. My pedicure: shot. And that floods my system with a double dose of my Katagelophobia –

 

DR.TWEED

Fear of ridicule.

 

SUSAN

Yeah, and you know how I get– but I’m still walking towards this light, and this music is coming out and I want to stop- I want to turn around and go back to where I landed.

Back to my blood puddle where I can lie down and wait for the paramedics to come.

 

I always thought paramedics were kind of like firemen; all burly and responsible. I wanted to go back to be scooped up by some burly paramedic and whisked away in his supped up antiseptic smelling ambulance- But no, I keep hobbling towards this door under the streetlight – where this music is blaring. It’s so loud. This music. lt’s Coldplay. maybe, or something like that.  I can hardly hear myself think. In my mind I’m saying “Go back. Go lie down so the burly paramedic can see you and scoop your deformed body up off the dirt and give you a slow sponge bath.” But no, I keep walking.

 

DR.TWEED

Susan, we’ve discussed this before.  Until you allow yourself to own these decisions and not castigate yourself for not changing things that cannot be changed, this cycle will continue. The Conscious Mind trying to control things in the sub-conscious realm is like a child playing in a sandbox. The child may add water and make mud patties, but as soon as he tries to eat the sand, each grain of sand will assert its own reality. The child says “you are a cupcake, I will eat you.” And the grain of sand says “No, in fact I am a grain of sand.”

 

 

SUSAN

But I’m the one having the dream- it’s my sandbox- why can’t I just eat the damn sand if I want to?

 

DR.TWEED

Don’t you see? That would be having your cupcake and eating it too. But continue. I’m sensing a breakthrough might be eminent.

 

SUSAN

So I come to the door. And there it is. Like I knew it would be. The double whammy.  First, the apartment number.  A big brass number thirteen. And below that, a knocker carved into the shape of a rearing otter!

 

DR.TWEED

The number thirteen and an otter? That is the double whammy for you, isn’t it?

 

SUSAN

Oh yes. Now I’ve wrestled with my Triskaidekaphobia-

 

DR. TWEED

Fear of the number thirteen-

 

SUSAN

-Since I was a kid, and my Lutraphobia-

 

DR.TWEED

Fear of otters-

 

SUSAN

-Made the cover of The New England Journal of Anxiety Disorders- Thanks to you, Doctor Tweed- and so I probably should have seen that coming and taken a few healing Hara Breaths which would have given me time to replace my phobic template with a non attachment mantra-

 

DR.TWEED

(Nodding)

Yes, Susan you should have. But you didn’t, did you? Instead-

 

SUSAN

Instead I reached out my broken, disfigured arm and I grasped that knocker and I… I…

 

DR.TWEED

What did you do Susan?

 

SUSAN

I knocked!

 

DR.TWEED

Yes! This is wonderful. What progress! What development!

(He takes her hand and looks her in the eyes for the first time.)

What guts! What happened then?

 

SUSAN

The door. It opened. The music came out, louder than before. It was definitely Coldplay and I don’t usually mind Coldplay. I mean I actually used to really like them, but it’s so loud. I can’t believe these people are listening to it at such a high volume ‘cause they’re like, my age. And then I notice them and- Oh Doctor Tweed- I’m embarrassed to even say it out loud-

 

DR. TWEED

Go ahead Susan. We’re in a safe place here. A place where you can feel free to make cognitive correlations without fear of any momentary contractions of Topophobia-

 

SUSAN

Stage fright.

 

DR.TWEED

Exactly… So why don’t you tell me who met you at –

(He consults his notes)

Apartment Thirteen with the Rearing Otter Knocker?

 

SUSAN

Allright Doctor. But this isn’t easy. You know from your work with my eating disorders that acute Lachanophobia runs in my family –

 

DR.TWEED

Yes, yes. But we cured your fear of vegetables- by converting it using Hyper Symantic Therapy, replacing “I fear” with “I hate”, we enabled you to access your inner anti-vegetable rage. Now you hate vegetables so much you actually eat them out of spite.

 

SUSAN

Its true. And I thought the dreadful stigma of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia –

 

DR.TWEED

 

Fear of long words.

 

SUSAN

 

-Would scuttle my chances of ever becoming fluent in German. Yet when I saw that the “people” greeting me at that apartment doorway were all dressed as… vegetables-

 

DR.TWEED

My God.

 

SUSAN

 

I nearly cried “Goterdangmundgiechienenmungenkopf!

Their costumes were incredible. The details of each different vegetable was so cleverly represented.   I’ve never seen such earnest work with felt. From my eyeball that hung by a optic nerve I could see each of their footwear was impeccable. A beautifully luminous Bell Pepper stood in the doorway with this.. salad of onlookers behind him. A smiling Radish, a single green frond waving above his head, said “Yes?” like he was expecting me to do something. Some dusty tuber, who I later learned was a Rutabaga, chimed in with “What do you have to say?”

 

DR TWEED

Excellent! Don’t you see Susan- you are on the edge of a precipice. A Psychic Event Horizon. Notice that they made no mention of your gravity mangled body nor your dangling eyeball- these are signs that you have conquered both your Katagelophobia  and your Diplophobia-

 

SUSAN

Fear of double vision-

 

 

DR. TWEED

 

And your Illyngophobia-

 

SUSAN

 

Fear of feeling dizzy when looking down.

 

DR.TWEED

 

Vertigo, exactly. All these Phobic Traumas, these “Petit Malades” as we call them have crumbled before your mangled avatar, your sub conscious self, standing at the doorway to your new life.

 

SUSAN

But that’s just it, Doctor. Even as I stood there, sucking air through my rib punctured lung and holding my little plastic bucket before me, I knew that they were laughing at me.  Laughing at what they saw as manifestations of psychosomatic patterns. They weren’t taking my injuries seriously. It was simply a “costume” that I put on to act out my personal demons. I was there to amuse them. I felt meager. Infantile.

 

DR TWEED

Understandable. But what an interesting place to start a full recovery. Childlike, you stand before the alter.  A minion of legumes stands in benevolent judgment. You ask the authority figures you have manifested to make a choice between two extremes.

 

SUSAN

Doctor, how did you know? Am I that transparent?

 

DR. TWEED

No Susan, not transparent. My studies in Medieval Festivals was not for naught. These homogeneous patterns are what we call Traditions. Your sub-conscious self simply adhered to a mythic archetype and used it as a conduit for the flushing out of your own psychic detritus. The ancient tradition of going from door to door checking for plague and demanding proof of same through the display of untainted stores at the consequence of which a “Trick”- like the burning down of the house- would ensue. Don’t you see? These “vegetables” were enabling you to provide yourself with a Sense of Entitlement.  And of course you seized it! You said:

 

 

 

 

 

SUSAN

Trick.

 

DR.TWEED

Or.

 

SUSAN

Treat.

 

DR.TWEED

You’re cured!

 

SUSAN

But Doctor, how can you be so sure? It seems impossible-

 

DR. TWEED

Impossible? It’s elementary, Susan. Now that you have confronted your Inner Zombie; the shambling, ravaged creature that your phobias have whittled you down to, you can begin to rebuild. And I will be here, Susan. In this safe place. Guiding your way through this psychic landscape. And I have a treat for you.

 

SUSAN

What kind of treat?

 

DR TWEED

How would you like to be free of all your phobias- except one- and live a more fruitful, full life?

 

SUSAN

Of course, Doctor. But how?

 

DR.TWEED

Have you ever heard of Counterphobia?

 

SUSAN

Fear of becoming a waitress?

 

DR. TWEED

No, Susan. Counterphobia  is much more than that. And it is very real. And very serious. Many sufferers of Counterphobia die every year. It is not lightly that you should consider trading in your list of fears for the single mega-placebo of Counterphobia. But in your case the risk may be worth it.

 

SUSAN

But what is this Counterphobia?

 

DR.TWEED

Well, The common counterphobic is usually found in the most dangerous professions, engaged in the most hazardous activities.  From Navy test pilots to Hollywood stuntmen, counterphobia has always been amongst us. Studies reveal that Christopher Columbus was a Countephobe. Even today Counterphobes have been exploited by the military for missions too treacherous for even the most driven soldiers. Tightrope walker Phillippe Petit was a Counterphobe.

 

SUSAN

But I’m not him. I‘m not any of those types.  I’m polyphobic. You know that Doctor. How can I become a Counterphobe?

 

 

DR.TWEED

It’s simple. Your dream has shown you the way. In the sub conscious world, a world you have no control of and yet, taken in the Gestalt, is all you, you have proven that you have the entitlement necessary to demand your treat- your piece of the ”psychic pie” as we say. All you need to do is ask that that treat comes in the form of a trade. All your phobias for one, as it were. Counterphobia.

 

SUSAN

Oh Doctor Tweed. How- how does it work?

 

DR. TWEED

Susan, the basic difference is in thinking.  Counterphobia is not actually a phobia. In fact it is a preference.  And you must embrace this preference, Susan. With all your heart.

 

SUSAN

I will, Doctor Tweed.

 

 

 

 

 

DR.TWEED

Counterphobia is the preference of the phobic for fearful situations. Susan, once you become a Counterphobe they’ll be no turning back. Replacing all those other phobias with this one will radically alter your life. You will no longer live in fear of say, seeing a naked mole rat-

 

SUSAN

Zemmiphobia.

 

DR.TWEED

But you will have to grapple with another kind of anxiety producing symptom of Counterphobia; fear of being in a situation in which there’s nothing to fear.

That is why Counterphobia has often been named by laymen as “fear of boredom.” And believe me, as a Counterphobe myself, I ‘ve had to deal with the yawning spectre of boredom more than my share.

 

SUSAN

You, a Counterphobe, Doctor?

 

DR. TWEED

Yes, Susan. I rarely reveal this to my patients but in your case I’ll make an exception. When not cooped up in this office seeing patients, my time is divided between helicopter rescue missions, aeronautic stunt flying and nocturnal underwater spelunking expeditions. In fact as soon as our session is over, I have a class in CPR that I must get to.

 

SUSAN

CPR?

 

DR.TWEED

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. Mouth to Mouth. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

 

SUSAN

Of course. But why are you taking it?

 

DR.TWEED

I’m studying to be a First Response Paramedic in Catastrophic Crises Situations for the SAS.

 

SUSAN

A (gulp) paramedic?

 

 

 

DR. TWEED

Yes. As a Counterphobe such skills will come in handy. But enough about me. You have a big decision to make and I’m afraid our time is up. So think about it and we’ll meet next week at the usual time. Just keep asking yourself, “Am I ready to jettison all my phobias for just this one? Am I ready to become a Counterphobe?” Just keep asking yourself.

 

SUSAN

Doctor, I don’t need to.

 

DR.TWEED

You don’t?

 

SUSAN

No. I already know. I’m ready. Ready and willing. And I want to start right now. By coming to that CPR class with you.

 

DR TWEED

Are you sure? But this is mouth to mouth we’re talking about. What about your fear of lips?

 

SUSAN

Pnegophobia? I can feel it melting away.

 

DR. TWEED

 

I suppose I could use a partner for the “practical demonstration.”

 

SUSAN

Oh Doctor Tweed, Please! I’m ready to embrace my own Counterphobia!

 

DR. TWEED

Call me Randall.

 

(He pinches her nose and blows air into her lungs. It turns into a kiss as he scoops her up off the couch and sweeps her out of the room. We hear an ambulance start up and recede into the distance. Lights fade to black.)

 

END OF PLAY

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