Freud—one of the world’s first documented modern psychoanalysts—was known most prominently for his theories concerning the breakdown of the human mind and its answering functions. His theory, in short, was that the mind was broken down into two parts: the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious. Further, that the mind was subdivided into three smaller parts which determined one’s personality: the id, the ego, and the superego.
The id being the part of the mind that is all primal; ruled by seeking out pleasure and instant gratification for all of a person’s needs.
The ego being that part of the mind that gives the id options—all possible solutions—to solve its problems and satisfy any need that arises. The ego operates in the way that behavior is supposed to satisfy each person’s needs in a realistic way to prevent getting into trouble—the acting mediator between the id and the superego which comprise two opposite ends of the spectrum.
The superego is the conscience which aids the ego in understanding how every solution that it comes up with is either “good” or “bad”, and chooses the best solution to said problem or need which will prevent getting into trouble.
According to Freud, a mentally-fit person had a balance between these three parts and subdivisions of their mind. But, what would happen if a person was born with only an id, an ego, or a superego and was missing all the others? And what is these three people were to meet and befriend one another? What would happen from that friendship where normalcy could only be reached by putting together the three pieces of the puzzle?
Then, how about I pose the question: ‘If each of those three people were only one third of a whole—complete—person, wouldn’t it be best to always stay together where they could be whole…for once in their lives?’ And from that question stems another: ‘Were these three people to separate after coming together, what further psychological damage could this cause them?’ And so finally, I ask: ‘Is it even ethical to put these questions to the test?’ You may be the judge…
“Ex-cuse me,” an old lady with short, slightly-curled white hair and pursed lips pulled down into a frown, asked.
Lidia was holding onto the metallic hoop-like handle hanging down from the handrails welded into the ceiling of the train car. Standing there with her eyes closed and listening to her music blaring as loud as it could go through her headphones into her ears, she was bopping her head to the bass line when she felt pressure on her right elbow. Lidia snapped her head to the right to look down at a frowning little old lady with dull gray eyes, paled skin, and lips that looked like she had just sucked a sour lemon. But she didn’t respond, only opened her eyes at looked at her. She hadn’t heard what the lady had said to her, and she had no idea why some stranger had touched her. If only the lady would repeat herself. Then she could just go back to frowning at everyone!
“Ex-cuse me,” the elderly woman said it like it was two words as the train car jolted to a short stop.
Lidia pulled out the headphone from her right ear and leaned in closer to the old lady, whispering to her, “What do you want?” She was trying to sound intimidating, and obviously it wasn’t working.
“I am trying to get past you and to the seat over there,” the old woman craned her neck around Lidia and gestured to a free corner seat with a jerk of the chin and widen eyes, “before we reach the next stop and someone else takes it! So, if you’ll please…excuse me.” The elder spoke with much arrogance for someone so small and fragile.
For a second, Lidia has the strongest urge to strangle the old lady buy ten the train stopped and she was shoved past her, slamming her shoulder roughly into the little old lady’s face—completely by accident, but, oh so satisfying—and the next minute having both feet on the train platform. The train pulled away behind her, and she looked down the platform in both directions before following the arrow to the right which directed her to her desired exit. Lidia walked to the end of the platform, and pushed through the nearest turnstile with her right hand, making her way to the staircase—to the left of the token booth—up to the street.
Once Lidia was outside, she felt unsatisfied again, like she should’ve hurt the little old lady. Her shrink had always told her about the little vice that people had in their heads when they were going to make a bad decision; that the little voice steered everyone toward a better one, kept them on the right path. But even if Lidia really tried, focused hard on listening for it…the little voice never spoke up. And she usually just went with her first instinct, which had earned her a previous Juvie record for robbery, breaking and entering, and various other misdemeanors.
It didn’t taken Lidia long to find Dr. Lhamsto’s office. She’s been going to see her therapist for years, since she was five years old. She had always been disruptive and misbehaved as a child, but when she turned five and has to start school and interact with her peers, everything had gotten worse. Her parents had been the dismissive kind that she believed all she needed was to be “evened out” with some behavioral meds. But none of the medications the doctors had put her on had ever worked. When she started seeing Dr. Lhamtso, she had become interested in reading about the ideas and theories of Freud, and thought that maybe her problem had to with her superego and ego being out of whack with her id. And to Lidia, having a stronger id seemed like a more plausible story.
Lidia saw Dr. Lhamtso four times a week—Monday through Thursday—and each session lasted 90 minutes. Dr. Lhamtso specialized in treating children and young adults. Lidia had wondered all her life if she could ever be fixed, but no one had ever answered that query.
It wasn’t like Lidia wanted to be a reprobate, a social reject, she just got these urges sometimes…that she couldn’t push aside. These urges just needed to be carried out, the moment they occurred to Lidia. And most of the time, her solutions weren’t always the best. Maybe she was just wired wrong, she thought to herself daily.
She took the four short steps two at a time, and rang the bell of the brownstone office front. The whole first floor was Dr. Lhamtso’s office. When Lidia walked in, the receptionist looked up from her computer to eye her warily, “Hey, Janine, you miss me?”
“I just saw you yesterday,” Janine smiled, fakely and then continued to tap away forcefully on the keyboard in front of her flat-screened computer. Janine had hated Lidia ever since Lidia had tried to go swimming in eh waiting room’s fish tank at the age of 7, Lidia knew.
The waiting room was bright, with eight, white, plastic, hospital-waiting-room chairs lined up against the left wall—the same side that the door was on and the TV was in the far left corner—against the wide window with white, hard, plastic, paneled shades hanging over it. The floor was covered in a dark gray carpet and the walls were a nice, calming cream color. To Lidia’s right was the door which led to the front office where Janine and Sarah worked—Sarah was never in the office this early—which was separated by half a wall and then a window with a sliding plate of glass that could be opened and shut by either Janine or Sarah.
No one else came as early as Lidia did, but she preferred to keep her appointments early—before school—so that no one would see her leaving the office. She didn’t have any friends, because she always scared them away, and the ones she did have weren’t her age, they were here. Her only friend was Dr. Lhamtso.
Lidia took the seat beneath the TV that was mounted above her head in the corner of the room. She crossed her ankles, slumped down in the chair and grabbed a magazine. Flipping through the magazine, Lidia browsed through the latest celebrity scandal, ads for youth serum lotions, and advertisements for nearby restaurants. She missed the white noise of the fish tank, but needless to say, it was gone.
Dr. Lhamtso opened the door into the waiting area just then, “Come in, Lidia.”
“Right away, Doc.” Lidia stood up, set the magazine down in the pile atop the tan-hued coffee table, picked up her all-black Jansport backpack, and shrugged it on over one shoulder, carrying it awkwardly into the therapist’s office.
* * * * *
When Dr. Lhamtso closed the door to her office, Lidia inhaled and let out a gust of air from her lungs. Now she would have to talk. She wasn’t a very verbose girl, normally, but with Dr. Lhamtso she felt comfortable, as if she was talking to a girlfriend. Though Lidia liked speaking with Dr. Lhamtso, it was always a dark time for her. She never looked around the room, just into her therapist’s hypnotic, obsidian gaze. In fact, Lidia couldn’t even recall what Dr. Lhamtso’s office looked like. The woman has shoulder-length, black hair that was straight as a board. She wore plain black glasses with rectangular, plastic frames that rested on her pert, slender nose that turned just a pittance at the end. Her lips were in a pout, plump and rosy, but her top lip was fuller than her bottom lip, and her top lip had no pointed tips, it was just rounded out and full. The therapist had no blemishes or freckles, just a few scattered beauty marks on the sides of her face along her cheeks and jaw line. Her eyes were almond-shaped and shaded under thick, black lashes. Her eyebrows had an arch to them, but not too much as to look menacing. She had wispy bangs that she swept across the left side of her forehead and tucked behind her ear, and she had her black hair pulled back in a loose ponytail that rested on the nape of her neck. Lidia focused on the physical features intensely to keep her own face from betraying her emotions and her lie of omission. The doctor took her seat behind her desk and set her clipboard on her desk with a fresh new page turned up and a pen in her hand. “So, Lidia, tell me about your morning… Did anything happen?” The tone of her voice suggested suspicion, and Lidia began contemplating if she should tell Dr. Lhamtso about the little old lady on the train with the bad attitude.
“Uh,” Lie. Lie through your caps, a small voice urged her. “Don’t remember. Nothing eventful.”
“Tell me what happened,” Dr. Lhamtso said, sounding as if she were in a trance.
“There was this old woman on the train asking me to move, and then getting mad because I didn’t hear her because I was listening to my music. So she started yelling at me,” Lidia just kept blathering on and on, like verbal upchuck. “I wanted to hit her.”
“Remember how we’ve talked about your violent moods, Lidia. You can’t just go around hitting people whenever they make you angry…” she took on the tone of a parent chiding a toddler for scribbling on a wall with markers but not wanting to get upset and lash out in anger at their child—so they baby talk their rage down. Lidia hated when Dr. Lhamtso used that voice with her, as if she were a dangerous animal backed into a corner that needed to be soothed to keep from attacking… Was she really that dangerous? Lidia wondered.
Lidia sighed, “I know that I’m not supposed to go around lashing out, but I just get these urges, like something telling me it’s okay. You know? A voice telling me what to do…no matter how bad it is.”
“Is it the little voice, or is it your little voice?” Dr. Lhamtso asked. There was clearly a difference. Lidia’s little voice was her rampaging id. The little voice would mean that Lidia might have been finally developing her missing components: her ego and/or her superego. But she had no such luck.
Lidia answered, “My…little voice. But…you’ll be glad to hear I didn’t hit her. I walked away. Well, I was pushed away. Same difference, right?”
“No. You didn’t make the decision on your own. It was made by others for you… That isn’t the same,” and then Dr. Lhamtso sounded like a disappointed parent.
Lidia rose from her seat opposite her therapist, “You know what I think? You just don’t want to see me get better! That’s it, isn’t it?! You just want more money… Well, I didn’t hit her and I’m learning to control my urges!”
Dr. Lhamtso set down her pen, folded her arms across her chest, and arched a brow at Lidia. “This right here is why I know you’re no better than when we started. You don’t make progress, Lidia. This is what I’m always telling you: one leap ahead, and two steps back.”
Lidia legs gave out and she fell into her chair. Janine came in then and handed Lidia a cool water bottle, “Here. You’re scaring the other patients…”
Other patients? Lidia wondered. No one was ever here for an appointment at 6am…