Episode 13 Transcript

13 - Patient #13-A-3 (Chloe)
By Lauren Shippen

[sfx: click of a recorder]

Dr. Bright: Patient #13-A-3, session 6. After four weeks of unsuccessful attempts to contact the patient, I was finally able to reach her and she has agreed to come and see me once a month. She said she has been doing better with the voices - she has been applying the meditation and mindfulness exercises that I taught her to positive affect. While this does give me some concern that she will be able to hear my own thoughts more easily, I think being more honest with her will ultimately help us both. Besides, if I eventually were to ask for her help with Agent Green, I would need to tell her everything. 

[sfx: opening door]

Dr. Bright: Hello, Chloe. Please, come in. 

[sfx: closing door]

Dr. Bright: It’s wonderful to see you, Chloe. How are you doing today?

Chloe:  I’m doing fine, thank you. 

Dr. Bright: I’m very happy you’ve come back to see me. I know you’ve been doing well over these past few weeks but I still think we can do a lot of good work together. 

Chloe: Yeah, sure. That was quite a coincidence - us running into each other like that. 

Dr. Bright: Yes, I suppose it was. 

Chloe: You weren’t - you weren’t following me, right? 

Dr. Bright: No, of course not. 

Chloe: You’re lying. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe-

Chloe: No, don’t. If we’re going to do this, you need to start telling me the truth. I could hear what you were thinking. You were thinking about Frank. Why? What does he have to do with any of this?

Dr. Bright: Okay, Chloe, I’m sorry. You’re right - I do need to be more honest with you. But I promise you, I really am just trying to protect my other patients. 

Chloe: What do you mean? Frank isn’t a patient of yours.

Dr. Bright: No, no, it’s - Chloe, I wasn’t lying when I said I wasn’t following you. I would never violate your boundaries like that. But one of my other patients - he crossed paths with Frank as well. And he had a similar reaction to when you first encountered Frank. So I asked my patient where he had seen this man. It seemed like too strange of a coincidence that the abilities of two of my patients had responded in such a way to the same individual. I thought maybe Frank was special too and I thought I should try to find him to see if I could help. 

Chloe: Oh. And that’s all? You just wanted to help Frank?

Dr. Bright: Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I was rather hoping that I might run into you as well. I thought that maybe you would still be walking around that neighborhood.

Chloe: And you just got lucky that I was there on your first try. 

Dr. Bright: Yes. Did you just hear me think that?

Chloe: Yes. 

Dr. Bright: That’s good, Chloe. That’s very good. Are you able to hear most thoughts like that these days - as complete sentences?

Chloe: Sometimes. It really depends on the person. Your thoughts are pretty organized - you think in straight lines, so it’s a little easier to hear what you’re thinking. 

Dr. Bright: What am I thinking right now?

Chloe: Well…hm, a lot of different things. But they’re running parallel to each other, if that makes sense. It’s not a jumble like it is with some other people. You’re thinking how interesting it is that I’m hearing thoughts in this way and- oh, yes. Yeah, he’s one of those people. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?

Chloe: Oh, sorry, you- you were wondering if Frank was one of those people that has jumbled thoughts. And yes, yes he is. Oh, but you don’t think he’s special? You think he’s just sick. And you don’t think I can help him, you don’t think that I’m strong enough to help him-

Dr. Bright: Chloe, please, slow down. This is- well, you are much farther along in controlling your ability than I was expecting. You’re going to have to give me a little bit of time to let me catch up. 

Chloe: Right, sorry. It’s just - you think a lot. And so quickly, and so much of it doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m just trying to pick out what I’m able to.

Dr. Bright: What doesn’t make sense to you? Is it the way you’re hearing the thoughts or the speed at which they are happening?

Chloe: No it’s - it’s when you’re thinking about science. I don’t know anything about neuroscience or psychology, so all of that stuff sort of goes over my head. Just because it makes sense in your mind doesn’t mean it makes sense in mine. 

Dr. Bright: Does that happen a lot? Someone is thinking about a specific area of knowledge that you don’t have and you find it difficult to process their thoughts?

Chloe: Yeah, it happens sometimes. Or when people think in shortcuts. 

Dr. Bright: In shortcuts?

Chloe: Yeah. Some people have shortcuts in their brain for thinking about stuff that’s specific to them. Like, they’ll be thinking of something and all of a sudden, they’re thinking about something completely different. And the jump makes sense to them - it’s a logical connection in their brain - but I don’t get it. 

Dr. Bright: Like an inside joke. Verbal cues that trigger a memory or specific connection?

Chloe: Right! And by the time I catch up to the change in subject, their mind has already moved on. 

Dr. Bright: But, despite all of this, it seems that you are hearing things much more clearly. 

Chloe: Yeah, I am, most of the time. But it’s still hard in public or large groups. 

Dr. Bright: In our last session, you mentioned that you were thinking of returning to school. Did you?

Chloe: Um, sort of. Me and my mom had a meeting with my advisor and tried to explain things as best we could. We used- we used the schizophrenia as an excuse. I know that’s sort of not cool because there are people who really have that and it’s difficult but- it was just easier than trying to explain the real reason. And, well, the advisor agreed that lectures were probably not a good idea. But she’s enrolled me in some independent study - studio time and private tutoring, that kind of stuff. 

Dr. Bright: That’s wonderful to hear. Getting back to routine is an important part of learning to live with your ability.  

Chloe: Yeah, the university has been pretty helpful, which is really nice. I know it wouldn’t be this easy if I was a medical student or something, but the art department can be pretty freeform depending on the courses you’re taking. 

Dr. Bright: And how is the independent study going?

Chloe: It’s going well, actually! I’m doing two different ones - one with my ceramics professor and another one in- well, in social work, actually. 

Dr. Bright: Really?

Chloe: Yeah, I- well, as you saw the other day, I’ve been talking to Frank more. And I’ve gotten him to go to the Vet center a couple of times, and I’m trying to get him to go to the VA - you know, get a check up, maybe admit himself until he’s better? And well, I’ve been volunteering there a bit. And my hours there are counting towards my credits, so it works out. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe, while I think it’s wonderful that you are volunteering, I don’t want this fixation on Frank to take over your life. If it weren’t for him, is social work something you would be interested in?

Chloe: I don’t know. I mean, I’ve never really thought about it. But I do enjoy the volunteering, really. It’s just- it seemed like the best way to get to know him a little bit better. 

Dr. Bright: And why is getting to know him so important to you? Because he’s sick?

Chloe: No. Well, maybe a little, but I’m not- I’m not making him my project or anything if that’s what you’re suggesting. I just - he doesn’t have anyone, okay? And he needs to paint, he needs to get these paintings out of his head and onto canvas and if he doesn’t- well I know what that’s like! To have art inside of you that you need to get out! So much has happened to him and it’s the only way he knows how to process it: I see the war and his dad’s death, something with lilies - I don’t know, it’s all a little abstract. And I’m the only one who can- he doesn’t have anyone and there’s no one who understands but I understand, I can help him! 

Dr. Bright: Okay, Chloe, it’s okay. 

Chloe: I can just hear you thinking that I’m going about this the wrong way. That I’m just some silly college student who’s trying to take on more responsibility than she can handle. But I’m not- I’m not romanticizing this. I know who he is - better than anyone. And you’re right - you don’t understand what it’s like to be an artist. You don’t have an artist’s brain. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe. It’s not like you to insult me.

Chloe: I wasn’t- okay, I’m sorry. 

Dr. Bright: You don’t like hearing my thoughts very much, do you?

Chloe: No, I guess I don’t. 

Dr. Bright: Why do you think that is?

Chloe: They’re cold. 

Dr. Bright: You find me cold?

Chloe: Well, a little, sometimes, but it’s not really you- it’s the way you think. I know that sounds bizarre, but there is a difference. Your thinking is so orderly. Clinical. Which I guess makes sense, because you’re a doctor, but it’s- it’s uncomfortable. It kind of chafes? Or no, it’s more like it pokes. Like, cold spikes. 

Dr. Bright: Well, I feel like I should apologize. That sounds very unpleasant.

Chloe: It’s not all bad. I mean, I can tell that there’s a lot going on underneath the surface. That you’re caring. I can’t hear them, but some of your thoughts - your more distant thoughts - they’re warm. Comforting. But you try to push them away - that’s what I don’t like. You have these thoughts about, well, I’m not sure really. I think they’re about people? Maybe your patients? Or no, one patient. Yeah, it’s- you think about him a lot. Not the one who’s dangerous, those thoughts are cold and pointy too - no this is someone who I remind you of? Or, we’re similar? He has a similar ability to me. Can he read minds too? No, just feelings. Oh, he’s the one who told you about Frank - that makes sense. He felt Frank’s emotions. God, I know what that’s like - that’s not always a fun ride.

Dr. Bright: Chloe- 

Chloe: So this patient, he’s like me. And you care about him. He reminds you of someone but it’s not me. No it’s, someone else. Someone else that’s in your warm thoughts. Who’s Mark?

Dr. Bright: Chloe, please. I would like to maintain some semblance of doctor patient confidentiality. 

Chloe: You really mean that. 

Dr. Bright: Of course I do. 

Chloe: Well, you’re the one thinking about him. You don’t have to. 

Dr. Bright: Well, yes, but that’s a bit like telling someone not to think of pink elephants. Inevitably, they think of pink elephants. 

Chloe: You’re right. I can see them - in your head and mine. But I’m not going to apologize for what I can do. I can’t help what I hear but I’m not going to use it for anything bad. I know this is a powerful ability, but I would never use someone’s thoughts against them. Yeah, me too. 

Dr. Bright: You too, what?

Chloe: What were you just thinking?

Dr. Bright: I was thinking that I’m happy you have this ability and not someone else. 

Chloe: Yeah. Me too. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe-

Chloe: He’s in trouble, isn’t he?

Dr. Bright: My patient? No, he’s fine. Safe and sound. 

Chloe: No. The other one. The one your patient reminds you of. Mark. He’s in trouble. 

Dr. Bright: Yes. He is. 

Chloe: And you can’t do anything. 

Dr. Bright: I’m trying to. 

Chloe: But you’re responsible. It’s your fault he’s in trouble. 

Dr. Bright: Why do you say that?

Chloe: Because you’re thinking it. 

Dr. Bright: Not everything we think is true, Chloe. Especially about ourselves. 

Chloe: I’m sorry. 

Dr. Bright: What are you apologizing for?

Chloe: For making you think about him. I get why you push the thoughts away. 

Dr. Bright: They’re not all warm, are they?

Chloe: No, they’re not. 

Dr. Bright: What else do you hear, Chloe?

Chloe: From you?

Dr. Bright: We might as well. 

Chloe: The thoughts are still there. Underneath the surface. Are they- they’re different. They’ve got a different hue to them - they’re memories?

Dr. Bright: Very good. 

Chloe: You don’t have any warm thoughts about him that are new? Oh, you haven’t seen him in a while. He’s trapped and you failed. You didn’t protect him like you were supposed to. You didn’t take care of him like mom and dad said to- oh! Mark’s your brother?

Dr. Bright: Actually, I think that’s enough for today. 

Chloe: What? 

Dr. Bright: If I’m going to be the one you practice on, then I’ll need to prepare a little bit better. Think about my own thought process and how to help you navigate through it. 

Chloe: I’m sorry I made you think about him. 

Dr. Bright: Don’t apologize, Chloe. I’m always thinking about him. 

Chloe: So, was it?

Dr. Bright: Was what?

Chloe: Was it your fault? That he got trapped?

Dr. Bright: I don’t know, Chloe. What’s done is done and I’m not sure I could have done anything to change that. 

Chloe: That’s not what you’re thinking right now. 

Dr. Bright: I know. 

Chloe: I guess - I guess a lot of what Frank is thinking might not be true. Right? I mean, he’s sick, so how do I know if any of what he’s thinking is actually a fact?

Dr. Bright: You don’t. But it’s true to him. And that’s all that matters in the end. But start with what you know. Start with the art.  

Chloe: That’s good advice. I know you’re thinking that you don’t know what to tell me, but that sounds like good advice to me. I’m sorry I’ve made you doubt yourself. 

Dr. Bright: You haven’t. I am just realizing that I am vastly out of my depth with you, Chloe. So much of therapy is saying the right thing to a patient, which is impossible when the patient knows what you’re really thinking. 

Chloe: But it’s a good challenge?

Dr. Bright: Yes, it’s a good challenge. 

Chloe: And I can help you. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?

Chloe: That’s what you think - you think I can help you. But that’s all I heard. I don’t know what I’m supposed to help you with. I thought that was your job. 

Dr. Bright: To be perfectly frank - and I don’t think there’s a point in being otherwise - I don’t know what my job is with you, Chloe. Give me a few weeks to play catch up, develop a new plan for you. I don’t know if there’s any point in treating these sessions as true therapy - we may as well use them to help you hone your ability. But any time you need to talk, you call me. Day or night, and I’ll be here. 

Chloe: Because I can’t read your thoughts through the phone, right?

Dr. Bright: Right. So let’s talk later this week about school and Frank and how you’re handling things. We can’t really discuss those subjects when you’re distracted by my thoughts. 

Chloe: No, I guess you’re right. Okay, Dr. Bright. That sounds good. 

Dr. Bright: Wonderful. 

[sfx: door opening]

Dr. Bright: I’ll talk to you later. 

Chloe: Okay. And Dr. Bright - I’m sorry for making you sad. But it’s good to know I can trust you. 

Dr. Bright: I’m glad, Chloe.

Chloe: Bye. 

[sfx: door closing]

Dr. Bright: End of session six. Well. In some ways, that went better than I expected. If I let her listen to my thoughts, perhaps I will be able to ease her into some of the information I am trying to share. I don’t want to overwhelm her, but I still think she could be an important ally. At the very least, I seemed to have gained some pity points. Which I don’t love, but the girl has a bleeding heart and I will take what I can get.

[sfx: click of a recorder]

[music & credits]

Lauren Shippen: The Bright Sessions is made possible through listeners like you. If you would like to support the podcast, please visit patreon.com/thebrightsessions to make a per episode donation. No amount is too small. And please rate, and especially review, the show on iTunes - it helps us stay on the charts so other people can find us. The show is written and produced by Lauren Shippen. The voice of Dr. Bright is Julia Morizawa. The voice of Chloe is Anna Lore. Anna is also responsible for all the gorgeous graphic design you see on our website. Oh yeah, we have a new website! Definitely go check that out. It’s pretty nifty. If you’d like to get in touch email us at thebrightsessions@gmail or find us on twitter @brightpodcast. As always, thanks for listening and stay strange.