tag: Psychoanalysis


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

Oh, To Be a Blobel!

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First published in Galaxy Feb 1964

George Munster fought for Earth during its war with the amoeba-like Blobels from Proxima. As a Blobel spy he assumed the form of the Blobels, and after the war’s end he still reverts to Blobel form half of every day making dating and socializing almost impossible.

His psychoanalyst connects him with Vivian Arrasmith, a female Blobel and former Terran spy who reverts to human form six hours of every day. They marry, but years later when they have difficulty in their relationship Vivian stabilizes as a human full time in order to save her marriage not knowing that Munster has stabilized full time as a Blobel in order to operate a business on Titan.

Cast of characters

  • George Munster – a human who turns into a Blobel
  • Dr. Jones – Munster’s robot psychoanalyst
  • Vivian Arrasmith – Munster’s wife. A Blobel who turns into a human
  • Pete Ruggles, Sherman Downs, Reinholt Glaubman – Munster’s fellow vets
  • Nina Glaubman – Munster’s mistress
  • Henry Ramarau – Munster’s attorney

Retreat Syndrome

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Worlds Of Tomorrow Jan 1965

John Cupertino gets stuck in a psychotic loop (with a great deal of hostility directed at his wife) as a way of coping with the fact he inadvertently thwarted Ganymede’s attempt to revolt against Terran colonization by informing his wife of the plans.

Cast of characters

  • Caleb Myers – officer who first pulls over the speeding Cupertino
  • John Cupertino – our psychotic protagonist
  • Carol Cupertino – John Cupertino’s wife
  • Dr. Gottlieb Hagopian – Cupertino’s psychiatrist
  • Dr. Edgar Green – Six-planet Educational Enterprise’s psychologist

Precious Artifact

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galaxy Oct 1964

Mars is desperately needed by both Earth and Prox for their overflowing populations, but only Milt Biskle suspects that the Proxmen and not the humans were in fact the victors of the war fought over that planet.

When Milt travels back to Earth after his successful Martian terraforming project he finds his suspicions confirmed. The Proxmen have constructed an elaborate illusion that life on Earth has continued so they can lure the human engineers back to their home planet in order to now terraform it for Prox, since the oceans were vaporized during the war.

Milt eventually resigns himself to this reality and heads back to Mars with a kitten, the titular precious artifact which is itself part of the Prox simulation, something Milt doesn’t recognize.

Cast of characters

  • Milt Biskle – a terraforming engineer on Mars
  • Dr. DeWinter – Milt’s psychiatrist
  • Mary Ableseth – Milt’s tour guide companion back on Earth

Dr. Bloodmoney

Dr. Bloodmoney
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Dr. Bloodmoney is Dick’s most unique collection of memorable characters in one story. I liked it even more reading it a second time.

After a few chapters set in Berkeley, California on the last day of modern civilization in 1981 we jump ahead seven years to a world trying to rebuild itself after a nuclear disaster. The mentally unhinged (and telekinetic somehow) Bluthgeld is the man responsible for raining down the nuclear bombs, and he hides out as Mr. Tree in a West Marin commune where the rest of the story takes place. The armless and legless (and also telekinetic) Hoppy Harrington, who had been held down most of his life, is able to become BMOC of this West Marin community until a showdown with seven-year-old Edie (and Bill) Keller that caught me off guard.*

On top of all this there is a man stuck in orbit, since a rocket to Mars had been launched moments before the disaster. He serves as a DJ to the inhabitants of Earth as he passes over each day. Even Stuart McConchie in this one manages to rise above the standard bland everyman in many PKD books. The whole thing comes together as one of Dick’s most accessible novels, and I would highly recommend it.

*Yes, I read this before, but my memory can charitably be described as not good.

Cast of characters

  • Stuart McConchie – salesman at Modern TV Sales & Service before the disaster
  • Jim Fergesson – owner of Modern TV Sales & Service. Modern TV Sales and Service is also the name of the store owned by Roger Lindahl in Puttering About in a Small Land. Jim Fergesson shares his name with the owner of Modern TV Sales and Service in Voices from the Street and the mechanic in Humpty Dumpty in Oakland.
  • Bruno Bluthgeld aka Jack Tree– the titular Dr. Bloodmoney. Responsible for a nuclear fallout disaster in 1972 and responsible for the nuclear attack in 1981
  • Doctor Stockstill – Bluthgeld’s psychoanalyst before the attack
  • Bonny Keller – member of the West Marin community who had referred Bluthgeld to Stockstill
  • George Keller – Bonny’s husband
  • Edie Keller – the Keller’s young daughter although she was fathered by Andrew Gill
  • Bill Keller – Edie’s unborn twin who lives and communicates inside of her
  • Hoppy Harrington – a phocomelus with telekinetic powers
  • Walt and Lydia Dangerfield – supposed to be the first couple to emigrate to Mars. Instead Walt ends up in orbit around Earth after the nuclear attack
  • Mr. Austurias – member of the West Marin commune who was killed for attempting to track down Bluthgeld
  • June Raub – on the West Marin planning committee
  • Andrew Gill – a cigarette entrepreneur after the attack
  • Eldon Blaine – a glasses salesman from Bolinas
  • Orion Stroud – chairman of the West Marin school board
  • Hal Barnes – a new school teacher in West Marin
  • Dean Hardy – Stuart’s business partner in a homeostatic vermin trap business
  • Paul Dietz – West Marin’s newspaper man