tag: Psychoanalysis

What’ll We Do with Ragland Park

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First published in Amazing Nov 1963

“What’ll We Do with Ragland Park” is a sequel to “Stand-by” and takes place shortly after the events of that story. 

Max Fischer has somehow figured out a way to once again disable the supercomputer Unicephalon 40-D, regain the Presidency and imprison the news clown Jim Briskin. Media mogul Sebastian Hada wants Briskin to prop up the failing CULTURE programming on his network which is of course difficult with Briskin in jail. 

While plotting how to get Briskin out and airing nonstop editorials on his network about how Briskin must be released Hada pursues a folksinger named Ragland Park for CULTURE. Hada soon realizes that Rags has a latent ability to seemingly predict (or create) the future through his ballads and with the help of his psychoanalyst gets Rags to write a ballad where Fischer frees Briskin. 

Fischer does release Briskin from prison, and after Rags performs his ballad on CULTURE everyone, including Fischer, seems to have a grasp on what Ragland Park can do. Everyone that is except Rags himself who remains clueless of his abilities. He writes a ballad about the FBI killing him and then that’s what happens, although Fischer thinks it’s his own psionic talents that affected the outcome.

Cast of characters

  • Jim Briskin – a news clown imprisoned by the FBI after what happened in “Stand-by.” Briskin shows up later in Dick’s novel The Crack in Space
  • Sebastian Hada – a media mogul 
  • Dr. Yasumi – Hada’s psychoanalyst
  • Nat Kaminsky – Hada’s production chief
  • Maximilian Fischer – the President of the United States
  • Leon Lait – Fischer’s cousin and Attorney General

Recall Mechanism

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First published in If July 1959

Ever since he was a child Paul Sharp has suffered from a fear of falling. As an adult he seeks treatment from a psychoanalyst for this worsening problem. His analyst Humphreys uncovers repressed memories and figures out Sharp is a latent precog due to the radiation from the nuclear bombs that detonated in Northern California when he was young. Unaware of his abilities, Sharp’s fear comes from a vision of his own death at the hands of a man named Giller (also from Northern Cali) who wants Sharp, through his job at the Division of War Destruction Salvage, to rebuild Petaluma-Sonoma which was destroyed during the war. 

Although he doesn’t tell Sharp this, Humphreys decides there is nothing he can do for him. The story ends with Giller meeting with his own psychoanalyst and complaining about the compulsion he’s always had for great heights and the irresistible urge to push people. 

Cast of characters

  • Paul Sharp – suffers from a fear of heights and falling
  • Humphreys – Sharp’s psychoanalyst
  • Giller – wants Sharp to rebuild the Petaluma-Sonoma area in Northern California

The Chromium Fence

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Imagination Jul 1955

A civil war has broken out between the Naturalists, who believe it is a man’s right to smell bad, go bald and have halitosis, and the Purists, who insist every man should have his sweat glands removed, teeth whitened, hair restored, etc. Don Walsh doesn’t want to commit to either party, but with an upcoming election he’s forced to take sides or else deal with the consequences. 

It’s a goofy premise that just illustrates mankind’s destiny to create factions and fight to the death over the stupidest trivialities. 

Cast of characters

  • Don Walsh – our undecided protagonist
  • Betty Walsh – Don’s wife
  • Jimmy Walsh – Don’s son in the Purist Youth League
  • Carl – Don’s Naturalist brother-in-law
  • Charley – a robot psychoanalyst 

Exhibit Piece

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in If Aug 1954

A man in charge of the twentieth century exhibit at the History Agency two hundred years in the future passes through a time gate in his exhibit, ends up in a 1950’s suburban home with a wife and two kids and decides to stay.

“Exhibit Piece” was adapted for the first season of Electric Dreams as the episode “Real Life”, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the story it is supposedly based on.

Cast of characters

  • George Miller – in charge of the twentieth century exhibit at the History Agency
  • Controller Fleming – Miller’s boss
  • Don and Ted – Miller’s sons in the 1950s
  • Marjorie – Miller’s wife in the 1950s
  • Adam Grunberg – Miller’s psychiatrist in the 1950s
  • Director Carnap – the History Agency director

Null-O

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in If Dec 1958

Lemuel is a troubled teen exhibiting classic troubled teen behaviors like arson and animal cruelty, and after he attacks a teacher with a knife his father promptly takes him to the psychiatric hospital. The sympathetic psychiatrist Dr. North recognizes Lemuel is a “perfect paranoid” (aka sociopath?), and Lemuel explains and demonstrates to the doctor his Null-O philosophy in which all of the world’s objects need to be obliterated. This impresses Dr. North for some reason, and he puts Lemuel in touch with another collection of Null-Os, in this case a group of scientists who want to destroy the universe. 

The Null-Os begin their grand scheme to detonate a progression of larger and larger bombs. Their country annihilating bombs are a success, but before they can detonate the earth bomb some pesky humans who have managed to survive attack them. In the melee Lemuel is shot. The other Null-Os escape in a spacecraft, and Lemuel, even as he is about to be killed by the humans, is at peace knowing the Null-Os will still complete their plan.

Presumably “Null-O” is some sort of satire of A.E. van Vogt’s stilted novel The World of Null-A which was quite a success (in spite of being bad) when it was published at the end of the 40s.

Cast of characters

  • Lemuel Jorgenson – our Null-O protagonist
  • Ralph Jorgenson – Lemuel’s father
  • Jean Jorgenson – Lemuel’s mother
  • Dr. James North – Lemuel’s psychiatrist
  • Dr. Jacob Weller, Dr. Frisch – part of a group of Null-Os hoping to destroy the entire universe

Piper in the Woods

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Imagination Feb 1953

One by one workers at a checkpoint garrison on an asteroid in outer space have begun to turn into plants, or so they say. As plants they shirk their duties and want to do nothing more than bask in the sun.

Dr. Henry Harris investigates this strange phenomenon, but all he has to go on are whispers about a mysterious group called the pipers who live in the woods near the base. After meeting a native of the asteroid in the forest, eventually Harris uncovers that there are no pipers. He realizes instead these over-worked young men and women suffer from a mass delusion as they wish to escape the pressure of constant training and stress of everyday life.

Harris has a lot of work to do to cure this malady of the modern age, but first he must relax in the dirt he gathered from the woods.

Cast of characters

  • Corporal Westerburg – patrolman on Asteroid Y-3 who thinks he’s a plant
  • Dr. Henry Harris – trying to figure out why people keep claiming to be plants
  • Commander Cox – Y-3’s base commander
  • Robert Bradshaw – chief biologist on Y-3 who also thinks he’s a plant
  • Lawrence Watts – Garrison Chief on Y-3