Yesterday, I had a conversation with Chuck. This conversation has prompted a re-visitation of a blog post written almost two weeks earlier.
Chuck works as a therapist at a mental health institution. Many of the people he treats have addictions, but it is not always the case that addiction is the problem. Frequently, it is merely a symptom of something more fundamental lying underneath the addiction. Substance abuse is an attempt at self-medication, and addiction is simply self-medication gone wrong.
In dealing with patients who live in multiple worlds, the challenge can be knowing which aspects of a person’s life are real, and which are less real. Yet, that could be an unfair way of looking the life of another person. Perhaps there can be two (or more) realities that co-exist, not only in the mind, but in physical reality.
Take Rover, one of Chuck’s patients. Rover is a dog, trapped inside a human body. According to Chuck, everyone is treating Rover like a human being, while Rover wants to be treated like the dog he is. Admittedly, he is a dog with a few weaknesses compared to other dogs: his sense of smell isn’t that great, and his speed at fetching sticks is at the low end of the scale. Using a term from times before political correctness became an obsession, we would regard Rover as handicapped.
What is the difference between Rover and, say, Billi Sodd? The main difference is that Brock knows that Billi is fictional. Brock enters Billi for a theatrical performance of an unknown duration, and when Brock decides that the performance is over, Billi disappears, and Brock returns. Brock is in control. There may be encores, there may be long periods between performances, when Billi is resting.
This is not the situation with Rover. Rover has a human persona that we will call Ralph. Everyone is treating Rover as if Ralph were a real person. Other people are not letting Ralph end his performance. In fact, they may not even know that Rover exists, or that Ralph is a performance.
Chuck is soon retiring, and he has fifty square meters underneath his house that could be transformed into a therapy room. If the purpose of Unit One is to promote “Innovation & Equality – for a better world”, then the purpose of Unit Two could be to promote “Therapy – for a better world”.
Theatre is a socially accepted way of living in multiple worlds. It is a way in which dogs like Rover can be allowed to become their true selves. “Theatre – for a better world”