Lecture given by Professor Langhan at The Calson Institute, February 17th 2087
We experience time in a clear and logical order. As scholars we are capable of forming extensive timelines showing the development of the universe, the evolution of creatures into man and the accumulation of knowledge by man. We understand yesterday as preceding today and relate cause to effect. In short time runs in a linear sequence, at least in the normal mind. Time moves forward at a set pace. We remember yesterday, live today and plan tomorrow.
Recently a number of cases have been subject to intensive study at the institute due to the clients’ inabilities to accept the direction of time. These patients claim that they can, and do, randomly travel backwards and forwards in time. These cases are of particular interest to our academics researching schizophrenia as it seems, like any biological pathogen, schizophrenia has, like mankind, evolved into a more complex illness as the new patients believe that they are experiencing distortions in time. Today schizophrenics claim that they experience time travel.
These people do not claim that they have a machine or that they can disappear from one time or reappear in another at will. These people state that they wake up in their own bodies, or that of a past or future family member, and experience a few minutes in that time before returning to their own body today.
Twentieth century studies suggested that schizophrenia resulted in an almost paranoid dissociation from reality. Those suffering from this ailment typically manifested periods of apathy, confusion and an underlying belief that messages were being transmitted to their mind from an external source; maybe the TV, the radio or space. In the second half of the twenty first century time disorientation joined this list of symptoms. Not only were the patients confused in the present, but they seemed confused about what is past, future and present because they believe that they are leaping into previous or future bodies.
Patient zero, the first case, as you may recall from your notes, was a well-educated computer engineer travelling by express plane from Los Angeles to New York for a presentation. During the flight patient zero became hysterical claiming that he was already in New York, but that the conference area was dark and empty. The plane had to be grounded in Houston and police accompanied a psychiatrist to the scene. Patient Zero was extremely lethargic and told the psychiatrist that, and I quote
‘I feel heavy, like I’m stuck in mud. I can’t move. I just want to sleep.’ He was transferred immediately back to Los Angeles by police van and institutionalized here at the Calson Institute.
Psychiatrists examined his history and found symptoms of mental illness that had been previously overlooked. Patient Zero had been admitted to hospital twice, just two years earlier, for what appeared to be excessive sleeping or catalepsy, but was, on reflection deemed to be the early signs of schizophrenia.
Psychiatrists also noticed complex patterns of absenteeism from his job at that time. On speaking to the local doctor they discovered that his medical certificates had been supplied as the doctor was concerned about sleep apnoea and lucid dreaming. Patient Zero had the same dream repeatedly; that he was receiving messages in the computer code that he created and that it was received visually in these dreams.
As a psychiatrist a fair evaluation of these symptoms is that schizophrenics in the twentieth century thought twentieth century technology was the media for the transfer of messages that the radio was talking to them directly. Patient Zero, however, living in the twenty first century received his signals in the new technology that was so familiar to him, computer jargon.
The content of the message was, of course, just as important as the medium. The message relayed in the dreams implied that space and time would begin to fold, just as a well-used brain folds. It is therefore likely that the medium and message were manifestations of Patient Zero’s own psyche and that this form of schizophrenia is largely environmentally driven. Patient Zero continued to believe that he would somehow project himself elsewhere through both space and time.
The fact is he never left the institute thereafter. One significant point to note is that in spite of having no access to media Patient Zero always showed an awareness of the changes in political climate of California. This anomaly is somewhat hard to account for, but as my Jungian colleagues explained in yesterday’s lecture on the collective unconscious, it is possible that Patient Zero somehow tapped into a conscious stream of thought that underlies humanity or that he overheard staff talking.
Patient Zero died five years ago of a massive brain aneurysm with an unknown cause, he spent most of his last two years in and out of comas. Since Patient Zero’s diagnosis the admission of clients with this form of schizophrenia has grown exponentially. During his eight years of medical care two hundred cases appeared across the globe, over the last five years over one thousand cases have been admitted in the United States alone. Environmental Psychologists refer to this as ‘The Plague of Mental Health.’ us clinical psychologists call it ‘Chronos-phrenia’ with reference of course to time disorientation.
One current case which will be of particular interest to graduates is that of ‘Glenda.’ This is of course not her real name as confidentiality has to be respected. Glenda was admitted to Calson six months ago having been referred by her personal counsellor as progress in therapy was not being made and Glenda’s delusions only worsened between sessions.
Glenda’s final session with her counsellor adopted the free association approach. Very old school, but the recordings made from that session give a clear insight into the development of that illness. Before I play the recording it would be beneficial to make a brief note of Glenda’s background.
Glenda was born to a middle class family in Orange County, her mother was a doctor, now retired and her father was a watchmaker. Glenda actually studied here at Calson majoring in Philosophy. After a thorough review Psychiatrists were unable to identify any indicators of mental illness in her history in fact the onset of the illness began unusually in her forties.
Glenda was married, working as a college tutor and a mum of two girls. There is nothing remarkable at all in her history which greatly increased our interest in this case, late onset Chronos-phrenia with no signs of any pre-existing mental abnormality sets a new precedence for this illness as does the extreme symptoms in this case, so as I terminate this lecture I invite you to listen to the audio files for Glenda’s pre-admission session and expect a psychological evaluation to be presented next week.
Patient: Glenda audio file pre-admissions
Admitted: August 5th 2085
I’m fine to lay down, in fact I am desperate to lay down, exhausted, my body burns, my head is throbbing. I can feel blood tearing my veins to shreds. You think its August the fifth 2085, but for me that was two years ago. I remember well, I came here for help months previous to that or this date depending on your point of view. Bad dreams, it began with bad dreams. The same dream recurring night after night. A cube dividing and dividing, growing around me, a tesseract, the divisions mutated and shifted continually, like windows or mirrors revealing or reflecting so many realities, so many places and so many times. I disappeared into the darkness as the monster grew, I was nothing, no one. Surreal visions that haunt me today or perhaps in two years’ time, I’m not sure any more.
I left work, I loved my job teaching Religious Philosophy. I always believed in God as the source of all matter. Everything emanating from one single spark of hope or loneliness and multiplying, spreading to form an imperfect universe. My breathing stopped during sleep several times. Chronic fatigue the doctors said and they signed me off of work. Days and days I would lay in bed unable to move, however light it was I was surrounded by darkness and the nightmares, those terrible nightmares, I felt so small and insignificant, burdened with weariness.
Slowly I improved, each day was a struggle but after a time I could occasionally get out of bed, walk around and eat a little. These sessions didn’t help, you couldn’t help me because you didn’t believe me. You thought I was crazy, delusional or hallucinating. I was telling you the truth, or rather I am telling you the truth.
The first time this…thing happened to me it was early, I had slept well and woken up at sunrise maybe in June or July. Scorching sun blazed through our windows, sweat bubbles poured off of me. I turned to my husband, as you know we had grown apart. He couldn’t cope with my ill health. He had his back to me. I remember stroking him, hoping he would turn to me, but he didn’t. I felt faint, the listlessness dragging me down, a spinning sensation and it was as if I sunk through the mattress.
I wasn’t in bed any more. There was no sun, the moon was high spreading its glow on the waves. My dad was there, he was young again. I was smaller, a child, my younger self. Terrified, I begged my dad to listen to me, begged him to hear who I was or when I was. He picked me up, held me, but I could tell that he thought I was daydreaming or that I had watched a scary film. Sorry, I’m so tired I need to stop for a minute………..
It was so brief, mere minutes it seemed, and I was back in my bed being violently ill. The sickness lasted two days, but the memory of that first encounter is just etched into my brain. After the sickness the fatigue returned and then receded once again. Within a month I experienced encounters daily, not just from childhood, encounters with my past before childhood, past lives. I don’t even know if it’s my past life or a random link to another human. I do know that on this date, today’s date you had me institutionalized.
I was incoherent, babbling. Today, now, in two years’ time, I have a chance to make you listen. In the institution I will be given a series of experimental and psychotropic drugs, I’m in a coma right now. I know I’m dying. I know that what’s happening to me is real. You don’t need to do this, I learn, at least to an extent, how to manipulate the encounters. I only get one chance though to visit any room in that cube. This is my only chance to convince you not to make that phone call, otherwise I will die in that place, this place. I am so tired, so heavy…….
Calson Press Release 13th September 2090
Client: Mrs Gloria Langhan
Patient Reference: Glenda
Admitted: Mr Johnathan Langan
Date of Admission: August 5th 2085
Today’s Date:September 13th 2090
FAO: LA Police Department
Report for press release: The Chronos-phrenia patient known as ‘Glenda’ died today after spending three years in a coma. The Institute sends its sympathies to the family and is working closely with the Department of Physics to gain a better understanding of this rapidly spreading condition.
Note scribbled by Mr A. Einstein
Princeton, New Jersey
April 18th 1955
Gloria, my greatest inspiration, if only we had more time!