Discover more from The Lay Psychiatrist
In Session (22) Treating A Wasp
I am the Lay Psychiatrist. I see things that never were and ask, why?
“Something coming up in the lift,” he said. “I say something, because it’s not a person. Or at least it doesn’t feel like it’s a person in the dream. I hear the lift, and I have this fear of what’s coming up into the light.”
He suffers identifies with insects, like Kafka with a cockroach. Spiritual identification with animals and sea mammals is a staple of shamanism, with spiritual identification with fish and insects is rare. The man said he has turned into a wasp, like his father and his grandfather. I suspect a genetic component.
If my hunch is correct, there is some reason these men identify with wasps. No matter how bizarre something like this sounds at first, it has a logic if you can find it. When we’d introduced ourselves and he sat down, I examined him closely.
I could see the resemblance to a wasp right away. The head and thorax leaned toward me, and his legs, crossed like an Italian Count’s, could be imagined as the abdomen. All he needed was a cup of tea to evolve into a parody of a wasp. His hands were buzzing around like wings. “Can I get you a cup of tea?”
He brightened at the mention of tea. I had seen he needed something to do with his hands, something with some order to it, like a ritual tea ceremony, with a saucer, so if you spill it you can just pour it back into the cup. It’s not a matter of brewing it, I have Lipton tea bags and a water dispenser that is instantly hot if I hit the red button. But I don’t have saucers. I selected a mug with a quote from Einstein, about the proper relationship between knowledge and imagination. I gave him a napkin in lieu of a saucer. “So, Wilhelm, what might be coming up from down in the cellar?”
“The cellar is where the bodies are buried, I guess,” he said ruefully, like we were going to be digging them up and moving them ahead of a murder investigation.
“Well, you can wait for what’s in the cellar to come up, and take you unawares, or you can go down to the cellar and see what’s there. One thing you might find there is a descending staircase.
“How do I find this secret stairway?”
“I didn’t say it’s secret. And it’s your script, Wilhelm. You might make it an iron ring you find laying on the floor, half covered in dirt and rat turds, and when you pull it up a trap door opens smooth and easy, revealing stone steps leading down into the interior. The hero’s journey, Wilhelm, and once you’ve gone past the guardians at the gate, it’s in for a pence, in for a pound.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” he said, more relaxed now with his hands not buzzing around, terrified of flaccidity. “You asked me what’s the cellar, which I think means what’s in my unconscious that might be coming up, and that’s fair. I know because I’m not new at this. I’ve told my story a hundred times. But do rat turds add anything?”
“It was for atmosphere. Imagination is more important than knowledge, and it’s okay that you imagine yourself to be a wasp. I can see it now, by the way. At first I was having trouble visualizing the abdomen.”
He looked at me with elegant puzzlement. “You are visualizing my abdomen? Why?”
“You said you’re a wasp. I see it. The heard and thorax were easy but the abdomen was hard to picture.”
“I didn’t mean I am an actual wasp,” he said. “I mean I’m white Anglo Saxon Protestant.”
“Let’s move along.”
Thanks for reading The Lay Psychiatrist! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.