tag: Mental Illness

The Exegesis: Is the fake fake real?, information degradation, schizophrenia & St. Sophia

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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August 1978 or later

Based on situations in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, A Maze of Death and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Dick tries to decide if hallucination is reality or reality is hallucination. He settles on the latter. He follows that with some circular reasoning about the real becoming fake becoming real. 

I struggle to understand his notes on entropy within the brain, but I think he concludes that because of information degradation the hologram weakened and allowed the Acts material to show up in his book Flow My Tears. Because of entropy the Acts message itself that made it through was degraded.

Dick admits he probably had a schizophrenic episode in 3-74 and the stress and the breakdown of his relationships that led to it began as early as 1970. The psychosis he encountered is gone at the time of writing due to financial security and a new relationship. A bright spot of the whole ordeal was that it put him in touch with Holy Wisdom / St. Sophia which is now part of his soul.

In a third-person passage he recounts what happened to him and the intervention of St. Sophia communicating her message of love, wisdom and harmony.

The Exegesis: Schizophrenia & causality

March 1977

Dick reads an essay Stanislaw Lem wrote about him and understands he has never been able to see causality the way everyone else does. 

He reads the screenplay for Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and by equating his life to a script realizes 3-74 ridded him of his paranoia. He correctly summarizes this makes him look psychotic. He says he became schizophrenic, which cured him, and he admits his fear that the FBI was after him was a delusion. 

He was a “paranoiac schiz” from 71 to 3-74 and had a full schizophrenic breakdown for a year after 3-74. After this a “toxin” secreted in his brain destroyed his persecutory complex. It appears now that depictions of paranoid worlds (like North by Northwest) are repellant to him. 

Using the Greek concepts of idios kosmos and koinos kosmos Dick wonders if the schizophrenic world is the sane world and the normal world is the crazy one. Maybe during schizophrenia the brain is trying to achieve parity between the two hemispheres by releasing the toxin. Because of the right brain’s dominance though schizophrenia is a failed evolutionary leap. 

His inability to understand causality (linear right-brained thinking) has allowed him to perceive how Zebra is communicating. One of his most important discoveries is that causality actually moves backwards.

The Exegesis: Another mystical experience and the vision of an arch-like doorway

Dick had another mystical experience on June 2, 1975, but unlike 3-74 and 2-75 this one lacked ‘all adventitious percept-system experiences.’ He realizes his 3-74 experience is something that happens all the time. It was just new to him. Since there is no way for him to understand God through his senses he either needs to deny God is at work in the world or deny the evidence of his senses. He decides on the latter. 

Evil isn’t as in control as it appears to be, although it had more power in the past. He envisions the universe as a delicate balance like the one between Yin and Yang. He again wonders why no one else reports an experience like his. 

He writes out a 24-point list about what happened to him ending with ‘my psychological projections are withdrawn.’ He decides even after all this he is not an improved or even necessarily a good person. His health is better and he has more control over his moods, but he is still cranky and domineering. 

He traces everything to a day in 1970 when he had a mental collapse which continued until 3-74 when he began his recovery. In 3-74 he saw an arch-like doorway which must represent death. Through it he glimpsed the Next World. We are not half-dead but half-alive since we haven’t yet found the missing part which lies ahead of us.

The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out Of Its Tree

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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When Joe Contemptible wakes up he finds Mr. Bed has dumped him on the floor, Mr. Closet won’t give him the correct clothes, Mr. Coffeepot serves him a cup of soapy water and Mr. Door won’t let him go anywhere. These problems are going on worldwide as the centralized computer source (aptly named Mr. Computer) has a psychotic episode. 

To solve this global catastrophe Joan Simpson, the head of World Mental Health who has been kept in suspended animation in the center of the Earth for just these scenarios, is brought forth to cure Mr. Computer. She determines Joe, lonely and on the verge of suicide, is the reason for Mr. Computer’s breakdown. The police round up Joe and she agrees to take him with her back down into the center of the Earth, giving them both companionship and setting Mr. Computer back to normal. 

Cast of characters

  • Joe Contemptible
  • Joan Simpson – the head of World Mental Health and the name of Dick’s real-life girlfriend at this time
  • Fred Doubledome – a computer tech?
  • Dr. Pacemaker – brings Joan out of suspended animation


Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Science Fiction Quarterly Feb 1957

John Eggerton is a titan of industry. He also happens to be targeted as a possible parakineticist by the Agency which identifies latent P-Ks before they can roam unchecked and destroy society. 

Doris Sorrel tries to serve Eggerton his notice to submit to the Agency, but he escapes with a bounty on his head. Eggerton thinks the industrial bloc leaders are undermined by the Agency, even though the other id bloc leaders remind him some kind of check needs to exist against the P-K mutants. 

Eggerton agrees to give himself over to the mercy of the Agency before a showdown with a P-K who was unaware of his own abilities gives Eggerton the idea that everyone can monitor for P-Ks on their own without the need of the Agency. The only thing left is to get the id bloc leaders to agree with this plan. 

The last we see of Eggerton he is flapping his arms and flying through the sky, a mutant P-K after all who has yet to recognize it. 

Cast of characters

  • John Eggerton – an industrial bloc leader who is identified by the Agency as a P-K
  • Doris Sorrel – an Immune who works for the Agency
  • Harvey Sorrel – Doris’s husband
  • Townsand – an id bloc leader
  • Laura Townsand – Townsand’s wife
  • Jay Richards – doesn’t realize he is a P-K. Grows a plant that sprouts a transport vehicle

Shell Game

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galaxy Science Fiction Sep 1954

The leaders of a settlement on Betelgeuse II believe they are a superior mutant race who crashed on that planet during a war with Terra which is now repeatedly trying to sabotage their camp. 

When they finally raise their damaged spacecraft they learn the truth that they were actually paranoid mental patients on a ship en route to a mental hospital. Or at least it seems that way. Several of the leaders question whether the attacks by Terra are truly collective hallucinations. They devise a way to test their sanity which exposes four of them as Terran spies. The rest, now convinced they aren’t crazy, commit to defeating Terra. 

“Shell Game” is a prototype of sorts for Dick’s later novel The Clans of the Alphane Moon which takes this idea of a group of isolated mental patients in a different direction. 

Cast of characters

  • O’Keefe, Fisher, Portbane, Horstokowski, Daniels, Silberman, Lanoir, Tate, Domgraf-Schwach – the nine leaders of the camp on Betelgeuse II