Friday, January 11, 2013

The American Dream: Sessions with a psychiatrist or should I call her Pshrink


I love America! and so would you if you have ever stayed in Nigeria with its many problems (let's not go into that) and listened to their music and watched their movies and heard all of the hype about her and indeed go and find quite a few to be true (well...except that the birds that fly in their skies are really birds not angel of God)

Okay, I am not going to dwell on the amazing self-flushing toilets or stories of ones that actually wipe the bottoms after..., nor would I talk about how much food there just is and how "organic" on every food item will make you wonder if it means it was planted in fields of gold or same soil and dirt.

No. Not at all. Instead we will good-naturedly look at a certain nuance of the American which is a need to see a psychologist, otherwise called a pshrink.

Growing up in Nigeria, Uselu and Aro Mental hospitals are the places I know psychologists may or may not be (okay, there are psychologists there) These are hospitals for people who are "mentally disturbed", "mentally challenged", "not all there" (I am trying to be politically correct like the ultra-sensitive American), insane or in plainer Nigerian slang "people wey done kolo  or craze or mental"

However, thanks to novels and movies, we all then become aware that not only insane people go to a psychologist. We begin to watch movies and see everyday people in a psychologist's office unburdening their souls. The psychologist never seems to talk much but merely interjects while he (bespectacled and black suit wearing) writes on a pad. the next thing, they say" time up" and schedule another time to meet.

Oyibo things right? Indeed I have always viewed it as such "oyibo thing" (a thing done by only white people) Thus I was shocked when it was a requirement for me before i could "take possession" of what I really truly desire. Okay! Ena wants to see a Doctor for something other than malaria, which by the way he treats with that malaria drug and the ever-present Urhobo people elixir; pepper-soup. Ena that broke a tooth and was bleeding and did not see a doctor as a kid. Ena that suddenly could not breathe and immediately sent for an inhaler and inhaled it and could breathe thus successfully self-diagnosing an ailment as terminal as asthma, is to see a Doctor when he is feeling the healthiest he has ever felt in his life. Okay!

And so I arrive at the "doctor's" office. (still having a problem calling a psychologist a doctor when even calling a dentist "Dr." is a slightly difficult enterprise.)  Okay, I arrive at the doctor's place and the environment is at once inviting and soothing. There are dimmed lights, candles burning, sweet low jazz music in the background and magazines of Obama and of healthy foods and beautiful male bodies (none of a female) that make you feel jealous till you psyche yourself that "their em em fit small well well. no be by chest" and then you sit and wait.

Then the usual American "hello" "hi" "how are you" and other pleasantries and the American warmness is unbeatable. the smile is MacDonald-ready for you. You are assured and sit in.

To cut to the chase, the questions start. "Hey Ena, where you abused as a child?" and you think of all the "you dey craze" "shut up there" "your papa" and other insults you received as a child which we in Nigeria call "abuse" but smile in the knowledge that your education has taught you that is not what she is talking about. So you say "Abuse? what do you mean" Then she says "were you beaten as a child" and you tell yourself "shuo! why them no go beat me? you want me to rotten? them beat me i still stubborn like this. if them no beat me nko?. Then you answer. "Nigerian parents beat their kids. it is the right thing to do. If you mean that was i beaten more than the average African kid, i would say no"

"Still on the abuse, when did you get introduced to sex?"  You are quiet. You are trying to think because it seems like it was even before Noah's flood. it is so far back. her voice cuts short your trip down memory lane "did any much older person abuse you as a child"  at this you guffaw. and say "no no no". You then remember as a child all the aunty you were peeping through keyholes. You know in your heart even as a ten year old, you do not feel any older now than then. You know if anything, you were not forced into it. You know how much you wanted whatever you got and more even. You remember the "kelekele" and "papa and mama play" and that particular person you always chased around and or chose as partner and you smile and say "No I was not abused as a child"

The questions go on. you feel like saying "wetin concern you?" to some of the questions which to you is total breach of your privacy.  you want to tell her that no you are okay. you do not blame the world for anything that has happened to me. That Sigmund freud and his Oedipus Complex is a sick man for having such thoughts for his mother and you do not think of sex every five minutes.  You want to tell her you are African and you do not just wake up and shoot children in a public school. You want to scream that no matter your crush on Jessica Alba and or Angelina Jolie, you are not Hinckley who to impress Jodie Foster, needed to shoot a serving president in Ronald Reagan. That no, you do not look at chickens and animals when they copulate. That even if it was that your father beat your mother, you are in a foreign land where the laws favour the woman and you did not come to America to go to beautiful jail. that even with the free clothes and even white bedsheets, the rumour of what they do to men's annal region will keep you away. That you are now your own anger manager and when you go back to Africa, it is not with that scary scary scary modern day taboo word, that word that has millions of families in Nigeria shaking just like mentioning "willie willie or gbomo gbomo" to a child in the eighties in Nigeria.  That term "deported" but instead with enough goods for your people who are praying for you back home. You wish Uselu and Aro and other mental hospitals in Nigeria had such an understanding "doctor" to treat them.

However you say nothing. You answer the questions as best you can. and as you make to go and schedule another session, you realize, just this session could cost as high as 150 dollars per session ((twenty two thousand naira) and you agree that this is the most expensive "chat for an hour" that you have been involved in...and no be say you dey craze
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