Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pharmakon: Fantasizing about family secrets

This fictional novel, Pharmakon, is written by Dirk Wittenborn, the son of a 1950's era psychiatrist. Sounds interesting, and a little uncomfortable to be reminded of the more primitive roots of modern psychiatry. We still have a ways to go. From The Independent.ie.

"On Sunday, October 8 1950, my parents and their three young children were in the yard planting tulips when a stranger who seemed lost appeared in the street. My mother was just about to ask if he needed help when my father whispered urgently, "Don't look up and don't say a word." My mother thought he was kidding until he told her that the stranger was a deeply troubled former Yale student he had once treated. My father didn't know his former patient had a loaded revolver in his pocket, but he had good reason to be frightened -- the young man had recently composed a 'death list' of those he blamed for his unhappiness, and Dr JR Wittenborn was at the top.

For reasons that remain a mystery to this day, this mentally unbalanced angel of death passed my family by and walked up the road. Number two on his death list was a Yale psychiatrist who had also treated him, and lived in the neighbourhood. My father tried to warn his colleague, but in the pre-answering machine 50s there was no way to leave a message. A few hours later, gunshots rang out. The psychiatrist was murdered and his wife shot and severely beaten."

[Author on YouTube]
Have any of you read this?  What did you think?