The Portal of God is non-existence.
Dr. William Haber’s office did not have a view of Mount Hood. It was an interior Efficiency Suite on the sixty-third floor of Willamette East Tower and didn’t have a view of anything. But on one of the windowless walls was a big photographic mural of Mount Hood, and at this Dr. Haber gazed while intercommunicating with his receptionist.
“Who’s this Orr coming up, Penny? The hysteric with leprosy symptoms?”
She was only three feet away through the wall, but an interoffice communicator, like a diploma on the wall, inspires confidence in the patient, as well as in the doctor. And it is not seemly for a psychiatrist to open the door and shout, “Next!”
“No, Doctor, that’s Mr. Greene tomorrow at ten. This is the referral from Dr. Waiters at the University Medical School, a VTT case. “
“Drug abuse. Right. Got the file here. O. K., send him in when he comes. “
Even as he spoke he could hear the elevator whine up and stop, the doors gasp open; then footsteps, hesitation, the outer door opening. He could also, now he was listening, hear doors, typewriters, voices, toilets flushing, in offices all up and down the hall and above him and underneath him, The real trick was to learn how not to hear them. The only solid partitions left were inside the head.
Now Penny was going through the first-visit routine with the patient, and while waiting Dr. Haber gazed again at the mural and wondered when such a photograph had been taken. Blue sky, snow from foothills to peak. Years ago, in the sixties or seventies, no doubt. The Greenhouse Effect had been quite gradual, and Haber, born in 1962, could clearly remember the blue skies of his childhood. Nowadays the eternal snows were gone from all the world’s mountains, even Everest, even Erebus, fiery-throated on the waste Antarctic shore. But of course they might have colored a modern photograph, faked the blue sky and white peak; no telling.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Orr!” he said, rising, smiling, but not extending his hands, for many patients these days had a strong dread of physical contact.
The patient uncertainly withdrew his almost-proffered hand, fingered his necklace nervously, and said, “How do you do.” The necklace was the usual long chain of silvered steel. Clothing ordinary, office-worker standard; haircut conservative shoulder-length, beard short. Light hair and eyes, a short, slight, fair man, slightly undernourished, good health, 28 to 32. Unaggressive, placid, milquetoast, repressed, conventional. The most valuable period of relationship with a patient, Haber often said, is the first ten seconds.
“Sit down, Mr. Orr. Right! Do you smoke? The brown filters are tranks, the white are denicks.” Dorr did not smoke. “Now, let’s see if we’re together on your situation. HEW Control wants to know why you’ve been borrowing your friends’ Pharmacy Cards to get more than your allotment of pep pills and sleeping pills from the autodrug. Right? So they sent you up to the boys on the hill, and they recommended Voluntary Therapeutic Treatment and sent you over to me for the therapy. All correct?”
He heard his own genial, easy tone, well calculated to put the other person at his ease; but this one was still far from easy. He blinked often, his sitting posture was tense, the position of his hands was overformal: a classic picture of suppressed anxiety. He nodded as if he was gulping at the same moment.
“O. K., fine, nothing out of the way there. If you’d been stockpiling your pills, to sell to addicts or commit a murder with, then you’d be in hot water. But as you simply used ‘em, your punishment’s no worse than a few sessions with me! Now of course what I want to know is why you used ‘em, so that together we can work out some better life pattern for you, that’ll keep you within the dosage limits of your own Pharm Card for one thing, and perhaps for another set you free of any drug dependency at all. Now your routine,” his eyes went for a moment to the folder sent down from the Med School, “was to take barbiturates for a couple of weeks, then switch for a few nights to dextroamphetamine, then back to the barbiturates. How did that get started? Insomnia?”
“I sleep well.”
“But you have bad dreams.”
The man looked up, frightened: a flash of open terror. He was going to be a simple case. He had no defenses.
“Sort of,” he said huskily.
“It was an easy guess for me, Mr. Orr. They generally send me the dreamers.” He grinned at the little man. “I’m a dream specialist. Literally. An oneirologist. Sleep and dreaming are my field. O.K., now I can proceed to the next educated guess, which is that you used the phenobarb to suppress dreaming but found that with habituation the drug has less and less dream-suppressive effect, until it has none at all. Similarly with the Dexedrine. So you alternated them. Right?”
The patient nodded stiffly.
“Why was your stretch on the Dexedrine always shorter?”
“It made me jumpy.”
“I’ll bet it did. And that last combination dose you took was a lulu. But not, in itself, dangerous. All the same, Mr. Orr, you were doing something dangerous.” He paused for effect. “You were depriving yourself of dreams.”
Again the patient nodded.
“Do you try to deprive yourself of food and water, Mr. Orr? Have you tried doing without air lately?”
He kept his tone jovial, and the patient managed a brief unhappy smile.
“You know that you need sleep. Just as you need food, water, and air. But did you realize that sleep’s not enough, that your body insists just as strongly upon having its allotment of dreaming sleep? If deprived systematically of dreams, your brain will do some very odd things to you. It will make you irritable, hungry, unable to concentrate— does this sound familiar? It wasn’t just the Dexedrine!— liable to daydreams, uneven as to reaction times, forgetful, irresponsible, and prone to paranoid fantasies. And finally it will force you to dream—no matter what. No drug we have will keep you from dreaming, unless it kills you. For instance, extreme alcoholism can lead to a condition called central pontine myelinolysis, which is fatal; its cause is a lesion in the lower brain resulting from lack of dreaming. Not from lack of sleep! From lack of the very specific state that occurs during sleep, the dreaming state, REM sleep, the d-state. Now you’re no alcoholic, and not dead, and so I know that whatever you’ve taken to suppress your dreams, it’s worked only partially. Therefore, (a) you’re in poor shape physically from partial dream deprivation, and (b) you’ve been trying to go up a blind alley. Now. What started you up the blind alley? A fear of dreams, of bad dreams, I take it, or what you consider to be bad dreams. Can you tell me anything about these dreams?”
Haber opened his mouth and shut it again. So often he knew what his patients were going to say, and could say it for them better than they could say it for themselves. But it was their taking the step that counted. He could not take it for them. And after all, this talking was a mere preliminary, a vestigial rite from the palmy days of analysis; its only function was to help him decide how he should help the patient, whether positive or negative conditioning was indicated, what he should do.
“I don’t have nightmares more than most people, I think,” Orr was saying, looking down at his hands. “Nothing special. I’m... afraid of dreaming.”
“Of dreaming bad dreams.”
“I see. Have you any notion how that fear got started? Or what it is you’re afraid of, wish to avoid?”
As Orr did not reply at once, but sat looking down at his hands, square, reddish hands lying too still on his knee, Haber prompted just a little. “Is it the irrationality, the lawlessness, sometimes the immorality of dreams, is it something like that that makes you uncomfortable?”
“Yes, in a way. But for a specific reason. You see, here … here I ...”
Here’s the crux, the lock, though Haber, also watching those tense hands. Poor bastard. He has wet dreams, and a guilt complex about ‘em. Boyhood enuresis, compulsive mother—
“Here’s where you stop believing me.” The little fellow was sicker than he looked. “A man who deals with dreams both awake and sleeping isn’t too concerned with belief and disbelief, Mr. Orr. They’re not categories I use much. They don’t apply. So ignore that, and go on. I’m interested.” Did that sound patronizing? He looked at Orr to see if the statement had been taken amiss, and met, for one instant, the man’s eyes. Extraordinarily beautiful eyes, Haber thought, and was surprised by the word, for beauty was not a category he used much either. The irises were blue or gray, very clear, as if transparent. For a moment Haber forgot himself and stared back at those clear, elusive eyes; but only for a moment, so that the strangeness of the experience scarcely registered on his conscious mind.
“Well,” Orr said, speaking with some determination, “I have had dreams that ... that affected the ... non-dream world. The real world.”
“We all have, Mr. Orr.” Orr stared. The perfect straight man.
“The effect of the dreams of the just prewaking d-state on the general emotional level of the psyche can be—”
But the straight man interrupted him. “No, I don’t mean that.” And stuttering a little, “What I mean is, I dreamed something, and it came true.”
“That isn’t hard to believe, Mr. Orr. Fm quite serious in saying that. It’s only since the rise of scientific thought that anybody much has been inclined even to question such a statement, much less disbelieve it. Prophetic—”
“Not prophetic dreams. I can’t foresee anything. I simply change things.” The hands were clenched tight. No wonder the Med School bigwigs had sent this one here. They always sent the nuts they couldn’t crack to Haber.
“Can you give me an example? For instance, can you recall the very first time that you had such a dream? How old were you?”
The patient hesitated a long time, and finally said, “Sixteen, I think.” His manner was still docile; he showed considerable fear of the subject, but no defensiveness or hostility toward Haber. “I’m not sure.”
“Tell me about the first time you’re sure of.” “I was seventeen. I was still living at home, and my mother’s sister was staying with us. She was getting a divorce and wasn’t working, just getting Basic Support. She was kind of in the way. It was a regular three-room flat, and she was always there. Drove my mother up the wall. She wasn’t considerate, Aunt Ethel, I mean. Hogged the bathroom—we still had a private bathroom in that flat. And she kept, oh, making a sort of joking play for me. Half joking. Coming into my bedroom in her topless pajamas, and so on. She was only about thirty. It got me kind of uptight. I didn’t have a girl yet and... you know. Adolescents. It’s easy to get a kid worked up. I resented it. I mean, she was my aunt.”
He glanced at Haber to make sure that the doctor knew what he had resented, and did not disapprove of his resentment. The insistent permissiveness of the late Twentieth Century had produced fully as much sex-guilt and sex-fear in its heirs as had the insistent repressiveness of the late Nineteenth Century. Orr was afraid that Haber might be shocked at his not wanting to go to bed with his aunt. Haber maintained his noncommittal but interested expression, and Orr plowed on.
“Well, I had a lot of sort of anxiety dreams, and this aunt was always in them. Usually disguised, the way people are in dreams sometimes; once she was a white cat, but I knew she was Ethel, too. Anyhow, finally one night when she’d got me to take her to the movies, and tried to get me to handle her, and then when we got home she kept flopping around on my bed and saying how my parents were asleep and so on, well, after I finally got her out of my room and got to sleep, I had this dream. A very vivid one. I could recall it completely when I woke up. I dreamed that Ethel had been killed in a car crash in Los Angeles, and the telegram had come. My mother was crying while she was trying to cook dinner, and I felt sorry for her, and kept wishing I could do something for her, but I didn’t know what to do. That was all. ... Only when I got up, I went into the living room. No Ethel on the couch. There wasn’t anybody else in the apartment, just my parents and me. She wasn’t there. She never had been there. I didn’t have to ask. I remembered. I knew that Aunt Ethel had been killed in a crash on a Los Angeles freeway six weeks ago, coming home after seeing a lawyer about getting a divorce. We had got the news by telegram. The whole dream was just sort of reliving something like what had actually happened. Only it hadn’t happened. Until the dream. I mean, I also knew that she’d been living with us, sleeping on the couch in the living room, until last night.”
“But there was nothing to show that, to prove it?”
“No. Nothing. She hadn’t been. Nobody remembered that she had been, except me. And I was wrong. Now.”
Haber nodded judiciously and stroked his beard. What had seemed a mild drug-habituation case now appeared to be a severe aberration, but he had never had a delusion system presented to him quite so straightforwardly. Orr might be an intelligent schizophrenic, feeding him a line, putting him on, with schizoid inventiveness and deviousness; but he lacked the faint inward arrogance of such people, to which Haber was extremely sensitive.
“Why do you think your mother didn’t notice that reality had changed since last night?”
“Well, she didn’t dream it. I mean, the dream really did change reality. It made a different reality, retroactively, which she’d been part of all along. Being in it, she had no memory of any other. I did, I remembered both, because I was … there ... at the moment of the change. This is the only way I can explain it, I know it doesn’t make sense. But I have got to have some explanation, or else face the fact that I am insane.”
No, this fellow was no milquetoast.
“I’m not in the judgment business, Mr. Orr. I’m after facts. And the events of the mind, believe me, to me are facts. When you see another man’s dream as he dreams it recorded in black and white on the electroencephalograph, as I’ve done ten thousand times, you don’t speak of dreams as ‘unreal.’ They exist; they are events; they leave a mark behind them. O.K. I take it that you had other dreams that seemed to have this same sort of effect?”
“Some. Not for a long time. Only under stress. But it seemed to ... to be happening oftener. I began to get scared.”
Haber leaned forward. “Why?”
Orr looked blank.
“Because I don’t want to change things!” Orr said, as if stating the superobvious. “Who am I to meddle with the way things go? And it’s my unconscious mind that changes things, without any intelligent control. I tried autohypnosis but it didn’t do any good. Dreams are incoherent, selfish, irrational—immoral, you said a minute ago. They come from the unsocialized part of us, don’t they, at least partly? I didn’t want to kill poor Ethel. I just wanted her out of my way. Well, in a dream, that’s likely to be drastic. Dreams take short cuts. I killed her. In a car crash a thousand miles away six weeks ago. I am responsible for her death.”
Haber stroked his beard again. “Therefore,” he said slowly, “the dream-suppressant drugs. So that you will avoid further responsibilities.”
“Yes. The drugs kept the dreams from building up and getting vivid. It’s only certain ones, very intense ones, that are....” He sought a word, “effective.”
“Right. O.K. Now, let’s see. You’re unmarried; you’re a draftsman for the Bonneville-Umatilla Power District How do you like your work?”
“How’s your sex life?”
“Had one trial marriage. Broke up last summer, after a couple of years.”
“Did you pull out, or she?”
“Both of us. She didn’t want a kid. It wasn’t full-marriage material.”
“And since then?”
“Well, there’re some girls at my office, I’m not a ... not a great stud, actually.”
“How about interpersonal relationships in general? Do you feel you relate satisfactorily to other people, that you have a niche in the emotional ecology of your environment?”
“I guess so.”
“So that you could say that there’s nothing really wrong with your life. Right? O.K. Now tell me this; do you want, do you seriously want, to get out of this drug dependency?”
“O.K., good. Now, you’ve been taking drugs because you want to keep from dreaming. But not all dreams are dangerous; only certain vivid ones. You dreamed of your Aunt Ethel as a white cat, but she wasn’t a white cat next morning—right? Some dreams are all right—safe.”
He waited for Orr’s assenting nod.
“Now, think about this. How would you feel about testing this whole thing out, and perhaps learning how to dream safely, without fear? Let me explain. You’ve got the subject of dreaming pretty loaded emotionally. You are literally afraid to dream because you feel that some of your dreams have this capacity to affect real life, in ways you can’t control. Now, that may be an elaborate and meaningful metaphor, by which your unconscious mind is trying to tell your conscious mind something about reality —your reality, your life—which you aren’t ready, rationally, to accept. But we can take the metaphor quite literally; there’s no need to translate it, at this point, into rational terms. Your problem at present is this: you’re afraid to dream, and yet you need to dream. You tried suppression by drugs; it didn’t work. O.K., let’s try the opposite. Let’s get you to dream, intentionally. Let’s get you to dream, intensely and vividly, right here. Under my supervision, under controlled conditions. So that you can get control over what seems to you to have got out of hand.”
“How can I dream to order?” Orr said with extreme discomfort.
“In Doctor Haber’s Palace of Dreams, you can! Have you been hypnotized?”
“For dental work.”
“Good. O.K. Here’s the system. I put you into hypnotic trance and suggest that you’re going to sleep, that you’re going to dream, and what you’re going to dream. You’ll wear a trancap to ensure that you have genuine sleep, not just hypnotrance. While you’re dreaming I watch you, physically and on the EEG, the whole time. I wake you, and we talk about the dream experience. If it’s gone off safely, perhaps you’ll feel a bit easier about facing the next dream.”
“But I won’t dream effectively here; it only happens in one dream out of dozens or hundreds.” Orr’s defensive rationalizations were quite consistent.
“You can dream any style dream at all here. Dream content and dream affect can be controlled almost totally by a motivated subject and a properly trained hypnotizer. I’ve been doing it for ten years. And you’ll be right there with me, because you’ll be wearing a trancap. Ever worn one?”
Orr shook his head.
“You know what they are, though.”
“They send a signal through electrodes that stimulates the... the brain to go along with it.”
“That’s roughly it The Russians have been using it for fifty years, the Israelis refined on it, we finally climbed aboard and mass-produced it for professional use in calming psychotic patients and for home use in inducing sleep or alpha trance. Now, I was working a couple of years ago with a severely depressed patient on OTT at Linnton. Like many depressives she didn’t get much sleep and was particularly short of d-state sleep, dreaming-sleep; whenever she did enter the d-state she tended to wake up. Vicious-circle effect: more depression—less dreams; less dreams—more depression. Break it. How? No drug we have does much to increase d-sleep. ESB—electronic brain stimulation? But that involves implanting electrodes, and deep, for the sleep centers; rather avoid an operation. I was using the trancap on her to encourage sleep. What if you made the diffuse, low-frequency signal more specific, directed it locally to the specific area within the brain; oh yes, sure, Dr. Haber, that’s a snap! But actually, once I got the requisite electronics research under my belt, it only took a couple of months to work out the basic machine. Then I tried stimulating the subject’s brain with a recording of brain waves from a healthy subject in the appropriate states, the various stages of sleep and dreaming. Not much luck. Found a signal from another brain may or may not pick up a response in the subject; had to learn to generalize, to make a sort of average, out of hundreds of normal brain-wave records. Then, as I work with the patient, I narrow it down again, tailor it: whenever the subject’s brain is doing what I want it to do more of, I record that moment, augment it, enlarge and prolong it, replay it, and stimulate the brain to go along with its own healthiest impulses, if you’ll excuse the pun. Now all that involved an enormous amount of feedback analysis, so that a simple EEG-plus-trancap grew into this,” and he gestured to the electronic forest behind Orr. He had hidden most of it behind plastic paneling, for many patients were either scared of machinery or overidentified with it, but still it took up about a quarter of the office. “That’s the Dream Machine,” he said with a grin, “or, prosaically, the Augmentor; and what it’ll do for you is ensure that you do go to sleep and that you dream—as briefly and lightly, or as long and intensively, as we like. Oh, incidentally, the depressive patient was discharged from Linnton this last summer as fully cured.” He leaned forward. “Willing to give it a try?”
“What do you want to wait for?”
“But I can’t fall asleep at four-thirty in the afternoon—” Then he looked foolish. Haber had been digging in the overcrowded drawer of his desk, and now produced a paper, the Consent to Hypnosis form required by HEW. Orr took the pen Haber held out, signed the form, and put it submissively down on the desk.
“All right. Good. Now, tell me this, George. Does your dentist use a Hypnotape, or is he a do-it-yourself man?” ‘Tape. I’m 3 on the susceptibility scale.” “Right in the middle of the graph, eh? Well, for suggestion as to dream content to work well, we’ll want fairly deep trance. We don’t want a trance dream, but a genuine sleep dream; the Augmentor will provide that; but we want to be sure the suggestion goes pretty deep. So, to avoid spending hours in just conditioning you to enter deep trance, we’ll use v-c induction. Ever seen it done?”
Orr shook his head. He looked apprehensive, but he offered no objection. There was an acceptant, passive quality about him that seemed feminine, or even childish. Haber recognized in himself a protective/bullying reaction toward this physically slight and compliant man. To dominate, to patronize him was so easy as to be almost irresistible.
“I use it on most patients. It’s fast, safe, and sure—by far the best method of inducing hypnosis, and the least trouble for both hypnotist and subject.” Orr would certainly have heard the scare stories about subjects being brain-damaged or killed by overprolonged or inept v-c induction, and though such fears did not apply here, Haber must pander to them and calm them, lest Orr resist the whole induction. So he went on with the patter, describing the fifty-year history of the v-c induction method and then veering off the subject of hypnosis altogether, back to the subject of sleep and dreams, in order to get Orr’s attention off the induction process and on to the aim of it. “The gap we have to bridge, you see, is the gulf that exists between the waking or hypnotized-trance condition and the dreaming state. That gulf has a common name: sleep. Normal sleep, the s-state, non-REM sleep, whichever name you like. Now, there are, roughly speaking, four mental states with which we’re concerned: waking, trance, s-sleep, and d-state. If you look at mentation processes, the s-state, the d-state, and the hypnotic state all have something in common: sleep, dream, and trance all release the activity of the subconscious, the undermind; they tend to employ primary-process thinking, while waking mentation is secondary process—rational. But now look at the EEG records of the four states. Now it’s the d-state, the trance, and the waking state that have a lot in common, while the s-state—sleep—is utterly different. And you can’t get straight from trance into true d-state dreaming. The s-state must intervene. Normally, you only enter d-state four or five times a night, every hour or two, and only for a quarter of an hour at a time. The rest of the time you’re in one stage or another of normal sleep. And there you’ll dream, but usually not vividly; mentation in s-sleep is like an engine idling, a kind of steady muttering of images and thoughts. What we’re after are the vivid, emotion-laden, memorable dreams of the d-state. Our hypnosis plus the Augmentor will ensure that we get them, get across the neurophysiological and temporal gulf of sleep, right into dreaming. So we’ll need you on the couch here. My field was pioneered by Dement, Aserinsky, Berger, Oswald, Hartmann, and the rest, but the couch we get straight from Papa Freud.... But we use it to sleep on, which he objected to. Now, what I want, just for a starter, is for you to sit down here on the foot of the couch. Yes, that’s it. You’ll be there a while, so make yourself comfortable. You said you’d tried autohypnosis, didn’t you? All right, Just go ahead and use the techniques you used for that. How about deep breathing? Count ten while you inhale, hold for five; yes, right, excellent. Would you mind looking up at the ceiling, straight up over your head. O.K., right.”
As Orr obediently tipped his head back, Haber, close beside him, reached out quickly and quietly and put his left hand behind the man’s head, pressing firmly with thumb and one finger behind and below each ear; at the same time with right thumb and finger he pressed hard on the bared throat, just below the soft, blond beard, where the vagus nerve and carotid artery run. He was aware of the fine, sallow skin under his fingers; he felt the first startled movement of protest, then saw the clear eyes closing. He felt a thrill of enjoyment of his own skill, his instant dominance over the patient, even as he was muttering softly and rapidly, “You’re going to sleep now; close your eyes, sleep, relax, let your mind go blank; you’re going to sleep, you’re relaxed, you’re going limp; relax, let go—”
And Orr fell backward on the couch like a man shot dead, his right hand dropping lax from his side.
Haber knelt by him at once, keeping his right hand lightly on the pressure spots and never stopping the quiet, quick flow of suggestion. “You’re in trance now, not asleep but deeply in hypnotic trance, and you will not come out of it and awaken until I tell you to do so. You’re in trance now, and going deeper all the time into trance, but you can still hear my voice and follow my instructions. After this, whenever I simply touch you on the throat as I’m doing now, you’ll enter the hypnotic trance at once.” He repeated the instructions, and went on. “Now when I tell you to open your eyes you’ll do so, and see a crystal ball floating in front of you. I want you to fix your attention on it closely, and as you do so you will continue to go deeper into trance. Now open your eyes, yes, good, and tell me when you see the crystal ball.”
The light eyes, now with a curious inward gaze, looked past Haber at nothing. “Now,” the hypnotized man said very softly.
“Good. Keep gazing at it, and breathing regularly; soon you’ll be in very deep trance....”
Haber glanced up at the clock. The whole business had only taken a couple of minutes. Good; he didn’t like to waste time on means, getting to the desired end was the thing. While Orr lay staring at his imaginary crystal ball, Haber got up and began fitting him with the modified trancap, constantly removing and replacing it to readjust the tiny electrodes and position them on the scalp under the thick, light-brown hair. He spoke often and softly, repeating suggestions and occasionally asking bland questions so that Orr would not drift off into sleep yet and would stay in rapport. As soon as the cap was in place he switched on the EEG, and for a while he watched it, to see what this brain looked like.
Eight of the cap’s electrodes went to the EEG; inside the machine, eight pens scored a permanent record of the brain’s electrical activity. On the screen which Haber watched, the impulses were reproduced directly, jittering white scribbles on dark gray. He could isolate and enlarge one, or superimpose one on another, at will. It was a scene he never tired of, the All-Night Movie, the show on Channel One.
There were none of the sigmoid jags he looked for, the concomitant of certain schizoid personality types. There was nothing unusual about the total pattern, except its diversity. A simple brain produces a relatively simple jig-jog set of patterns and is content to repeat them; this was not a simple brain. Its motions were subtle and complex, and the repetitions neither frequent nor unvaried. The computer of the Augmentor would analyze them, but until he saw the analysis Haber could isolate no singular factor except the complexity itself.
On commanding the patient to cease seeing the crystal ball and close his eyes, he obtained almost at once a strong, clear alpha trace at 12 cycles. He played about a little more with the brain, getting records for the computer and testing hypnotic depth, and then said, “Now, John—” No, what the hell was the subject’s name? “George. Now you’re going to go to sleep in a minute. You’re going to go sound asleep and dream; but you won’t go to sleep until I say the word ‘Antwerp’; when I say that, you’ll go to sleep, and sleep until I say your name three times. Now when you sleep, you’re going to have a dream, a good dream. One clear, pleasant dream. Not a bad dream at all, a pleasant one, but very clear and vivid. You’ll be sure to remember it when you wake up. It will be about—” He hesitated a moment; he hadn’t planned anything, relying on inspiration. “About a horse. A big bay horse galloping in a field. Running around. Maybe you’ll ride the horse, or catch him, or maybe just watch him. But the dream will be about a horse. A vivid—” what was the word the patient had used?— ” effectivedream about a horse. After that you won’t dream anything else; and when I speak your name three times you’ll wake up feeling calm and rested. Now, I am going to send you to sleep by ... saying... Antwerp.”
Obedient, the little dancing lines on the screen began to change. They grew stronger and slower; soon the sleep spindles of stage 2 sleep began to appear, and a hint of the long, deep delta rhythm of stage 4. And as the brain’s rhythms changed, so did the heavy matter inhabited by that dancing energy: the hands were lax on the slow-breathing chest, the face was aloof and still.
The Augmentor had got a full record of the waking brain’s patterns; now it was recording and analyzing the s-sleep patterns; soon it would be picking up the beginning of the patient’s d-sleep patterns, and would be able even within this first dream to feed them back to the sleeping brain, amplifying its own emissions. Indeed it might be doing so now. Haber had expected a wait, but the hypnotic suggestion, plus the patient’s long semi-deprivation of dreams, were putting him into the d-state at once: no sooner had he reached stage 2 than he began the re-ascent. The slowly swaying lines on the screen jittered once here and there; jigged again; began to quicken and dance, taking on a rapid, unsynchronized rhythm. Now the pons was active, and the trace from the hippocampus showed a five-second cycle, the theta rhythm, which had not showed up clearly in this subject. The fingers moved a little; the eyes under closed lids moved, watching; the lips parted for a deep breath. The sleeper dreamed.
It was 5:06.
At 5:11 Haber pressed the black OFF button on the Augmentor. At 5:12, noticing the deep jags and spindles of s-sleep reappearing, he leaned over the patient and said his name clearly thrice.
Orr sighed, moved his arm in a wide, loose gesture, opened his eyes, and wakened. Haber detached the electrodes from his scalp in a few deft motions. “Feel O.K.?” he asked, genial and assured.
“And you dreamed. That much I can tell you. Can you tell me the dream?”
“A horse,” Orr said huskily, still bewildered by sleep. He sat up. “It was about a horse. That one,” and he waved his hand toward the picture-window-size mural that decorated Haber’s office, a photograph of the great racing stallion Tammany Hall at play in a grassy paddock.
“What did you dream about it?” Haber said, pleased. He had not been sure hypnosuggestion would work on dream content in a first hypnosis.
“It was. ... I was walking in this field, and it was off in the distance for a while. Then it came galloping at me, and after a while I realized it was going to run me down. I wasn’t scared at all, though. I figured perhaps I could catch its bridle, or swing up and ride it. I knew that actually it couldn’t hurt me because it was the horse in your picture, not a real one. It was all a sort of game.... Dr. Haber, does anything about that picture strike you as ... as unusual?”
“Well, some people find it overdramatic for a shrink’s office, a bit overwhelming. A life-size sex symbol right opposite the couch!” He laughed.
“Was it there an hour ago? I mean, wasn’t that a view of Mount Hood, when I came in—before I dreamed about the horse?”
Oh Christ it had been Mount Hood the man was right
It had not been Mount Hood it could not have been Mount Hood it was a horse it was a horse
It had been a mountain
A horse it was a horse it was—
He was staring at George Orr, staring blankly at him, several seconds must have passed since Orr’s question, he must not be caught out, he must inspire confidence, he knew the answers.
“George, do you remember the picture there as being a photograph of Mount Hood?”
“Yes,” Orr said in his rather sad but unshaken way. “I do. It was. Snow on it.”
“Mhm,” Haber nooded judicially, pondering. The awful chill at the pit of his chest had passed. “You don’t?”
The man’s eyes, so elusive in color yet clear and direct in gaze: they were the eyes of a psychotic.
“No, I’m afraid I don’t. It’s Tammany Hall, the triple-winner back in ‘89. I miss the races, it’s a shame the way the lower species get crowded out by our food problems. Of course a horse is the perfect anachronism, but I like the picture; it has vigor, strength—total self-realization in animal terms. It’s a sort of ideal of what a psychiatrist strives to achieve in human psychological terms, a symbol. It’s the source of my suggestion of your dream content, of course, I happened to be looking at it. . ..” Haber glanced sidelong at the mural. Of course it was the horse. “But listen, if you want a third opinion we’ll ask Miss Crouch; she’s worked here two years.”
“She’ll say it always was a horse,” Orr said calmly but ruefully. “It always was. Since my dream. Always has been. I thought that maybe, since you suggested the dream to me, you might have the double memory, like me. But I guess you don’t.” But his eyes, no longer downcast, looked again at Haber with that clarity, that forbearance, that quiet and despairing plea for help.
The man was sick. He must be cured. “I’d like you to come again, George, and tomorrow if possible.”
“Well, I work—”
“Get off an hour early, and come here at four. You’re under VTT. Tell your boss, and don’t feel any false shame about it At one time or another 82 per cent of the population gets VTT, not to mention the 31 per cent that gets OTT. So be here at four and we’ll get to work. We’re going to get somewhere with this, you know. Now, here’s a prescription for meprobamate; it’ll keep your dreams low-keyed without suppressing the d-state entirely. You can refill it at the autodrug every three days. If you have a dream, or any other experience that frightens you, call me, day or night. But I doubt you will, using that; and if you’re willing to work hard at this with me, you won’t be needing any drug much longer. You’ll have this whole problem with your dreams licked, and be out in the clear. Right?”
Orr took the IBM prescription card. “It would be a relief,” he said. He smiled, a tentative, unhappy, yet not humorless smile. “Another thing about the horse,” he said.
Haber, a head taller, stared down at him.
“It looks like you,” Orr said.
Haber looked up quickly at the mural. It did. Big, healthy, hairy, reddish-brown, bearing down at a full gallop—
“Perhaps the horse in your dream resembled me?” he asked, shrewdly genial.
“Yes, it did,” the patient said.
When he was gone, Haber sat down and looked up uneasily at the mural photograph of Tammany Hall. It really was too big for the office. Goddamn but he wished he could afford an office with a window with a view!