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Vampire Vignette

This blog post hit a nerve, and creeped me out a bit. People so dead inside that they would seek out other's tales of humiliation and pain for vicarious living. But I've seen it... so I write.

For your perusal, a work of fiction - of horror.

May be triggering for people who've had bad therapy experiences.

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Vampire

“Can you share with us a time when you experienced prejudice and how you dealt with it?” the therapy group leader asks, her eyes bright in a flushed face. “What was the worst thing that ever happened to you?”

The group shuffles nervously. No one wants to go first. Too much shit, too many years.

"You have to express it, get it out in the open, so it can heal, instead of keeping it in and letting it fester." Her face is cheerful, earnest, even excited. She has that well meaning smile that she must have practiced a thousand times in social work, counseling, or whatever class.

My stomach churns. The smile is false, what's behind them is... nothing. It's like she's empty. Maybe she's just really good at blocking off her feelings so they don't interfere, but...

One of the women starts talking. Racism, sexism, rape, spousal abuse, the whole nine yards. She starts slow, halting, unsure. The cheerful therapist encourages her, rapt with attention, apparently listening to her. With each new revelation, each new insult, the therapist seems to become energized.

"When my ex-boyfriend shot my new boyfriend, I knew I had to leave..." she was winding down, deflating, but not feeling any better. Bringing it all up hasn't helped, it just ripped open the scabs.

But the therapist... my God, she fed on it, drinking it in like it was a sweet wine of a fine vintage. The feelings I was getting. It can't be. Please let me be wrong.

The first woman finished her life story sobbing. One of the others held her, muttering that it was over, she was safe now. The therapist turned to the next person, a handsome man slouched in his chair with a stony face.

"Well, your turn. Surely you have had negative experiences. Get them off your chest, it's safe here." She cooed. There was starting to be a hunger, a need that I hadn't wanted to believe was real.

The man just shrugged. "I got nothin'. Shot a couple times by accident, nothin' major." He shrugged again.

The therapist shuffled her papers impatiently "It says here that you've been in jail twice, been shot four times, been in drug rehab three times, been remanded for anger management once before, and was in the foster care system before the age of seven. Are you sure there's 'nothing major' to talk about?" She smiled sweetly. "It's not like people here have never heard of similar stuff."

"Yeah, they've heard it all before. Saying it won't undo it, either." He shot back.

She pursed her lips "Perhaps, but we do require that you cooperate with therapy to get your life on track."

She was needing now, hungry. "Why don't you think about it for a bit." and then turned to the next person.

The next one was a woman slumped in a wheelchair, her eyes bearing the look of a chronic pain patient. The therapist went over to her. "Tell us how you got in that chair, dear." She had that patronizing tone that so many did with the disabled, assuming that physical disability automatically engendered mental diminishment.

The woman in the wheelchair gave a tired, painful sigh, and began a well worn recitation of her woes. The therapist interjected frequently with "But how did that make you feel, dear?", plumbing the depths for emotion. Eventually, she got it. Still, her hunger just grew plainer, at least to me.

The next guy was a meek mouse, beaten down, needing someone, anyone, to pretend to listen, especially someone with power, like the therapist had just displayed. "Why don't you share your experiences with the group, dear?" He began to recite his tale of woe, even pausing for dramatic effect.

The therapist drank, the hunger becoming clearer, deeper, the more she drank, the deeper he went. She went over to him, touching his knee, encouraging him when he faltered on the parts that were too painful even for him.

I shuddered. My stomach was doing somersaults, and I was on the verge of a full-on panic attack. I was probably trapped in a room with an emotional vampire, in a position of power over a group of "disturbed" people, milking their life's pain. The room was starting to spin.

She finished draining him, leaving him crying, and no better off. Her eyes cast about for her next subject, or perhaps victim was a better word. She was deep in the hunger now, and everyone but me and the guy she'd gotten snarky with were somehow under her spell.

I threw up. It broke the lock, everyone was so shocked. They got me out, said it must have been a reaction to medication or something I ate.

I got back under control, got my stomach settled, let them run tests and all. I acted like I didn't know what was wrong, just "Oh, god, sick". They gave me some antinausea stuff and sent me home. I got out fast, saying I "just wanted to lie down". Fortunately I wasn't "checked in" involuntarily or anything, just there for "day" therapy. I wasn't so sure about the others.

I think I shook for two days.
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So there you have it.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
kittenmommy
Sep. 7th, 2010 10:15 am (UTC)

Reading that made me feel sick. Ugh.

I'm so sorry that happened to you! I hope that woman was fired, because that's just... I can't even describe what I'm feeling right now. Ugh.
ravan
Sep. 7th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, that wasn't a real life me, that was a composite fiction.
kittenmommy
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)

Oh.

Well, I'm sure it's happened to people. And it's not just therapists who "feed" off of other peoples' pain, either. I've known people like that; they take great pleasure in the suffering and misfortune of others.
ravan
Sep. 8th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, one of the other recent posts I read that fed into this was about an EMT who had people calling him up for gory details about car wrecks and other accidents - while he was on the scene. As in neighbors who weren't related.

The whole pain porn, pain as entertainment thing is disturbing. It all comes from a deadness inside, a lack of meaning in ones own life.

It's often an ugly undercurrent in disaster relief, charity, anti-discrimination activism, and even other supposedly "helping" professions.

Edited at 2010-09-08 07:15 pm (UTC)
kittenmommy
Sep. 8th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)

The whole pain porn, pain as entertainment thing is disturbing. It all comes from a deadness inside, a lack of meaning in ones own life.

And a lack of empathy for others, obviously.

It's often an ugly undercurrent in disaster relief, charity, anti-discrimination activism, and even other supposedly "helping" professions.

I once read a short horror story about a new doctor who gradually began to realize that he got off on the suffering of his patients. It was really, really disturbing, partly because it was so very plausible.
ravan
Sep. 8th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
Thing is, I know I have a fascination with disasters. I look up train wrecks - not for the bleeding, but for the mangled metal, the tough structural steel crumpled like so much tissue paper.

I know the intensity of emotion and sensation in some settings can be like a drug if you are used to not feeling much of anything.

But I can get my intensity from fiction, if my life gets too "dull". I don't need to feed on people to get my blood running.

I've met people who fed off of the emotions of others, and heard about others yet. Some of the things they do to evoke those emotions makes the therapist in this vignette seem tame and civilized.
kittenmommy
Sep. 8th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)

I've met people who fed off of the emotions of others, and heard about others yet. Some of the things they do to evoke those emotions makes the therapist in this vignette seem tame and civilized.

I've met those people too. Unfortunately.
heethen_crone
Sep. 7th, 2010 12:11 pm (UTC)
I'd never thought of it that way but yeah, some of those "therapists" are emotional vampires. If you bleed, they're feeding.
harvey_rrit
Sep. 7th, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC)
This is why I refer to Doctor Phil as Doctor Empty.
kittenmommy
Sep. 8th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)

That sounds about right. Didn't he lose his license to practice in Texas? I'm pretty sure I read that he did.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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