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Remote Psychosis

by Michael J A Tyzuk

“Remote Control” appeared
in issues 61 and 62.

Those of you who have been with me for a while remember a story called “Remote Control,” in which a man is caused to commit murder by an implant in his head which stimulates certain centers of the brain. That stimulus, combined with a regimen of hypnotic conditioning, turns him into a preprogrammed killing machine that goes after specific targets, and only on command.

When I first wrote the story I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the mechanics of the situation I was creating. At the time I didn’t really care. I had this idea that had been kicking around in my head for most of the last fifteen years, and I finally had the means at my disposal to do something about it. The story was written in a terrible hurry, and it showed.

Eventually I submitted an edited version of the story to Critters writer’s workshop. The responses I received were educational. A lot of people questioned the mechanics of what I was doing, the logic behind the different actions and emotions of the central characters. One person suggested that the premise behind the story would probably make for one hell of a cool novel and, much to my surprise, it didn’t take me long to start agreeing.

So, for the last few months I’ve been heads down, working on the novelization for a story I wrote in a terrible hurry. It’s been an interesting and educational experience, and probably both the easiest and the most difficult project I’ve ever tackled. Easy because I was able to mine the previous story for a number of scenes and then just expand on them, go into a little bit more detail about Tamara and her relationships with Alan and Gerald, the Medical Examiner. Difficult for reasons I’ll go into in a moment. Some of the things I’ve been considering have been downright fascinating.

One of the advantages of taking a story like “Remote Control” and expanding it into a novel format is the ability to look back and show how and why things happened the way that they did, instead of leaving things to the readers’ imagination. I’ve been able to explore how Alan came to receive his implant, and I’ve also been able to explore what he’s been thinking and feeling when his hidden masters pull his strings and make him act as he’s been programmed to act.

The nature of what happened to Alan and his reactions to the things that he’s being forced to do have caused me to consider psychosis. It seems obvious to me that an ordinary person placed in the situation that Alan finds himself in could not help but develop some kind of psychosis. So I sat down and I started thinking about situations and reactions.

First of all, the circumstances under which Alan was caused to receive his implant would have to be most memorable, but they would also have to be the traumatic kind of memorable that you would rather just forget, if that makes any sense. He would have to be aware that something was being done to him, that he was being altered so that he was no longer the person that he was. Under the circumstances, he would also have knowledge of who was doing it to him, though he would not know why.

From the point of view of an engineer developing a weapon to be used in the field, it seems logical that the device would have to be tested. After all, you can’t deploy it if you don’t know that it works, right? The designers of the Patriot missile system should have remembered that before they pronounced it fit for action, but I digress.

It also seems logical to me that Alan would be aware of what he was doing when he was doing it, but it also seems logical to me that he wouldn’t want to be aware of it, nor would he want to remember it. So he would cause himself to black out, thus shutting out all memory of his actions. He wouldn’t return to the real world until his instructions were carried out, and the proof of his handiwork was displayed before him. Of course he wouldn’t believe that he was capable of such violence, despite the convincing physical evidence before him.

Despite everything that would have happened to him he would cling to the belief that he himself wasn’t responsible for what was happening. Thus a separate personality, invisible to the rest of the world but real inside Alan’s mind, would rise up and take on the role of a virtual devil’s advocate. The mission of this other personality would be simple, to make Alan realize that he was in fact responsible for what was happening, and that the only thing he could do was accept it. After all, he really has no control over circumstances, does he?

Once Alan starts realizing that he is in fact responsible for what’s happening, and he starts to remember why he’s responsible, then he would start to consider ways to make it stop. Of course, the only way to erase the conditioning that he’s been subjected to and destroy the implant that’s taking advantage of that conditioning would be to commit suicide, and here’s another place where that inner voice, that alternate personality, would come into play. This alternate personality would be supremely interested in self-preservation, and so he would pull out all the stops, reminding Alan over and over again of all the people his untimely death would affect. Of course, being merciless, this inner voice would cause Alan to consider the possible consequences for one person in particular, a person to whom Alan is connected on such a deeply rooted emotional and spiritual level that his passing would change her forever. She will never be the same if she loses you. You’ve always told her that there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for her. Surely someone who cares for her as you do would spare her that pain and agony.

Now, as an ex-Marine, Alan would be a very willful man. He would set an objective firmly in his mind and he would do whatever it took to achieve that objective. In this case the objective would be to stop the slaughter, preferably without causing himself to be killed in the process. So he would start doing things to announce to the local police what was happening. The first step would be astonishingly simple.

Consider the following: if you were of a mind to kill someone and get away with it, and you had the perfect location in which to perform the deed without anyone being the wiser, then the only thing you would have to consider would be what to do with the body afterward. In this case the murders are being committed on a farm that Alan owns but that has not been operational for some time. When he took his victims up to the workshop and killed them he could be guaranteed that there would be no pesky witnesses to ruin things for him. Another advantage to using the abandoned farm would be that he could bury the body anywhere on the property that he chose and no one would be any the wiser.

So, with such a perfect means to commit murder over and over again without anyone knowing that its happening, why in the name of hell would he announce that these girls were being killed in an especially brutal and savage manner by taking their bodies back into the city and depositing them in dumpsters in the Inner City? Strategically it makes no sense for Alan to do this, but only if his objective is to get away with what he’s doing. If he wants to stop the killing but doesn’t want to kill himself in the process, then it makes sense for him to let the local authorities know that something is going on here, and give the law enforcement system a chance to do its thing.

This, of course, results in a conflict between Alan and the alternate interior persona that he’s developed to guide him along the path of completing the mission his hidden masters have given him. Eventually the secret persona will figure out what Alan has been up to, and when it does, Alan discovers something very interesting, and potentially very deadly: a major part of the conditioning is self-preservation: the interior persona that he’s developed won’t allow itself to be captured, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen. Consequently, Alan discovers that the only way he can stop the madness is to allow himself to be sacrificed. He knows he’s not strong enough to defeat the interior persona, but he also knows that he has just enough power left within him to manipulate events so that he won’t have to.

Thus, Alan ensures that Tamara sees a crucial piece of evidence that leads her to do some further investigation. This investigation leads her to the farm, where she finds all the physical evidence that she needs to take Alan into custody and have him charged with murder, which leads to a final confrontation between Alan and his interior persona on one hand, and the Alan/Interior persona amalgam and Tamara on the other hand. Alan knows he can’t surrender, so a physical confrontation becomes inevitable, but he also knows that it is possible to fight just hard enough so that when he gives Tamara her opening then she will have no choice but to kill him, which is exactly what happens.

It’s an interesting little bit of psychological maneuvering. Of course, the possibility of things actually happening this way given this set of circumstances is entirely speculative on my part, as there really is no way to determine in advance exactly how such a specific set of circumstances would play out. I could increase my odds of plotting out exactly what would happen through a study of psychology, but I believe that would be an exercise in futility. Though psychology is regarded in contemporary thinking as a bona fide science, the simple fact of the matter is that it isn’t science at all. Rather, it can best be described as pseudo-science.

There is absolutely no scientific basis behind the conclusions psychology makes about the range of human emotions and behavior. Every single concept of modern psychology is a magnificently crafted piece of speculative thinking, a carefully crafted model that certainly fits the pattern of behavior being observed but is inherently unprovable. To think of this as science is pure fallacy on our part, but it is a fallacy that we as a species seem to buying into more heavily with each passing year.

Psychology and other pseudo-sciences that form the basis of what I like to consider as the Social Sciences have become heavily entrenched in our lives, with the end result that we can’t even blow our noses without someone pointing out to us all the myriad ways in which that one action affects all of the people around us in a negative way. Heaven forbid that anyone be affected negatively by some action. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it adversity that builds strength?

That’s another discussion for another time, though. Its kind of interesting when you think about it though, and it poses a fascinating question: from a certain point of view, isn’t political correctness simply a new form of psychosis?

Comments are invited.

Copyright © 2005 by Michael J A Tyzuk

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