In one of Stephen King’s books he tells the story of a dog – I have no idea what his inspiration for this story had been, had he seen something similar happen in his childhood, had he made it up? Was he just being a very perceptive Stephen?
In the story, there is a dog that’s being left tied up to a post, or something, in the blazing summer sun, day after day. Maybe it’s a guard dog, I don’t remember. The dog can’t get out of the sun, it’s helpless to remedy its situation. Kids are harassing it, using its helpless condition. As the weeks and months go by, the dog gets a crazy look on its face. It ends up attacking and mauling a child, without sufficient provocation.
So, was this dog crazy? How would you diagnose its condition?
What would a psychiatrist say, when they encounter a human being in a similar situation? Will they even acknowledge that this is the case, that the person is suffering from prolonged stress, from being put in a situation where their instincts were pressuring them to act yet no action could be taken, so the pressure just kept building up, until that person snapped.
Were they insane? Temporarily insane? Or just a sane person put in an insane situation, or, rather, an impossible situation? Evolution does not take care of all eventualities, there is not a solution for every problem, in our design. Although regression therapy theoreticians did suggest that a mechanism for the reversal of this process exists, within the human mind – all regression therapies are based on the idea that this mechanism exists and can be utilized, in therapy.
And, if you think about it, maybe all mental disorders – the ones that are not clearly genetic in nature or are a result of brain damage, and those are far fewer than we believe – are a result of stress experienced in early life, possibly beginning in utero (the fact that environmental influences begin before birth has been scientifically established)? A result of psychological trauma, as some recent pulications have suggested, finally. Maybe all mental illness is simply less obvious cases of post trauma, of PTSD? I think the same mechanisms are involved. The brain is a computer that is programmed by our experience, after all, with the genetics providing the basis of this programming, the general parameters – very important, of course, but useless, meaningless, without the fine-tuning of experience.
And I’m still curious to hear what psychiatrists have to say about my – Stephen’s – story about that dog. I really am.