In the Flesh
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by Paul Nelson
Description: Lawyer Paul Newton makes a good living doing personal injury lawsuits. For him, broken bones, split skulls, or severed limbs are sure money-grabbers. The last thing he wants to get involved in is a case where the injuries are psychological. For sure, he wants nothing to do with Multiple Personality Disorder--something he considers hocus-pocus. When his office manager persuades him to listen to Judith Hoople, he gives the woman fifteen minutes, but her story captivates him and the man who treated her was so slimy, both his sensibilities and his greed are shocked. Judith was repeatedly abused as a child, including being involved in a satanic sex-cult and developed MPD to escape the trauma. As an adult, she sought aid to quit smoking and her therapist, Red Greely, discovered the MPD and saw a chance to make himself famous--as well as an outlet for his sexual demands. For Newton, all the ingredients are there...a harm, a perpetrator, and insurance to pay for it. The malpractice was so severe, Newton is certain the case will settle before trial. He doesn't count on an opposing lawyer who'll do anything to win his case...or Greely's nasty decision to add a rider limiting his insurance in cases of sexual misconduct.
eBook Publisher: BooksForABuck, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: September 2009
12 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [410 KB]
Reading time: 268-376 min.
"Please boss. Just see her one time. Just for me? O.K.? She hasn't got anywhere else to go."
Josephine was pleading now, imploring me while making her big black eyes seem even larger. Almost pure Filipino, Josephine had a virtually flawless face. Long black hair surrounded a light olive countenance featuring a petite nose and a generous mouth with just enough oriental emphasis to add a little mystique to her attractive appearance. Her five-foot frame probably did not weigh over 100 lbs., but it could pack a lot of energy and right now all of it was devoted to convincing me to see a prospective client.
Josephine, or "Joe," was my chief screening paralegal responsible for sorting through the masses of prospective clients and weeding out the ones we would not handle. As a lawyer who specializes in personal injury lawsuits, I get a lot of kooks and frauds looking for a fast buck. Joe was usually pretty good at cutting through the chafe and getting rid of those prospective clients who were obvious bad risks, phonies or just plain crazies. As a part of this weeding process, Joe also referred out prospective clients whose needs fell outside our realm of practice but whose cases could be handled by other firms.
However, the client Joe wanted me to meet with on this particular morning was a different matter entirely. As far as I was concerned, she was a kook of the weirdest type. I wanted nothing to do with her.
Having attempted to get me to meet with this woman twice before, Joe refused to give up and here she was, back for a third time. I forgot to mention, Joe could be really stubborn when she wanted to and this was obviously one of those times.
As a PI lawyer, I don't like psychological mumbo jumbo. Broken bones and nasty scars are something to play show-and-tell with and sell to a jury. Paraplegics and quadriplegics can be wheeled in for jurors to see their discomfort and feel their pain.
But psychological pain? Physical pain and suffering brought about by mental stress? To top that off, this was a psychological trauma that science only recently accepted as real and was something I personally wasn't sure even existed. My level of excitement for taking this case was just about on par with retaking the Bar exam for kicks.
One thing I do know--if a lawyer doesn't believe in what he's selling, the jury usually isn't buying!
But Joe wouldn't let go. Unusually obstinate, she continued pleading with me to interview a prospective client with Multiple Personality Disorder, something I considered mumbo jumbo of the highest order. Hell, my guess is that everybody has different personalities, it just depends on a given set of circumstances as to which one you feel like exhibiting. But you controlled them, not the other way around. Just as in the courtroom, you wore the hat that fit the image you needed to convey.
Regardless of my personal reservations, it didn't take psychic powers to recognize that Josephine was cloaked in her most endearing, pleading and stubborn personality.
Well, I didn't want to start a war and I was sure that Joe wouldn't quit until she wrangled an interview out of me or I got upset and ordered her to cease and desist, which would then set the mood for several days of silent Asian sullenness. Not a fair choice, but a real one.
"O.K., O.K. Set up a conference; I'll give her 15 minutes and not a minute more. We'll do it in our library, not my office. I don't want her back here." I knew from experience that it was much easier to get away from an unwanted client by walking away from him or her than by having them escorted out of my personal office.
"And make sure she has that quack, I mean psyche with her, Dr. what's his name."
"Dr. Felton Trey," Joe responded, her face beaming while she tried unsuccessfully to hide an impish grin.
"Just like you want, boss. I'll set it all up in the law library. No problem." Joe was already backing out of my office. Having gotten exactly what she wanted, she knew better than to spoil it by hanging around.
"And wipe that silly grin off your face! It's just an interview. I did not say I'd take the case!" I thundered the last at her in mock severity, knowing full well who had won this battle.
"Yes boss, I know." Joe flung the words back over her shoulder as she bolted from my office.
* * * *
They were there, already seated at my conference table.
I had two actual conference rooms, but I liked the law library. I designed it myself, and it did look impressive. Rows of books lined three full walls in built-in shelving. A divider, consisting of more bookshelves, crossed the center of the room, and on either end were more books in recessed shelving and seating for comfort while perusing. To my immediate left in the far corner was an alcove that contained a couch, table and chairs where one could sit quietly while looking out through the windows over the Hillsborough River leading into greater Tampa Bay.
In the center of the space between the divider and the door entrance was a long rectangular conference table. Originally it had been one solid top, but after I purchased it I found that we could not get it up the six flights and into the library, so, I had it cut in half and reassembled. It was professionally done and looked great, but I had really hated to have it cut.
The conference table was ringed with eighteen chairs, and, as I entered the library, a man and a woman were seated in the two chairs at the end of the table on my right. Joe was seated in the second chair to my left, across from the woman, leaving an open chair next to her, directly across from the man at the end seat.
"Mr. Newton," (that's me), "meet Dr. Felton Trey and Judith Hoople," Joe said in introduction as I approached the table.
"Pleased to meet you." I shook hands with both of them.
Felton Trey was a trim man, about five foot six with dark eyes and a shock of black hair combed straight back. He wore tinted glasses, the kind that get lighter or darker as one goes from darkness to light, and they gave the impression of a man trying to couch his expressions behind them. Dr. Trey had an O.K. handshake, not as firm as I liked, but not as limp as a wet dish rag anyway.
"Mr. Newton," Dr. Trey acknowledged in a slightly high-pitched voice with definite nasal intonations.
Shaking hands with Judith, I noticed her warm hands and a slightly damp but surprisingly firm grip accompanied by a bright smile. "Pleased," she said in a throaty smoker's voice. I further noticed her brown hair was shoulder length with natural curls falling down over an otherwise unremarkable face. Not unattractive, but no raving beauty either. Female jurors wouldn't feel threatened and males would find her acceptable. She had big blue eyes and was dressed in a black, knee length dress and black pumps. Simple but nice. Her blue eyes were steady as she gazed through long lashes, watching me in an attentive fashion.
I dropped my legal pad on the table in front of my chair, looking from one to the other deciding the best approach to the interview. I needn't have worried, because as I took my seat, Dr. Trey cleared his throat. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with us about Judith's problem. She asked me to come along with her today and sort of speak on her behalf. You see, I've been Judith's psycho-therapist for about a year now and I know all about what happened to her".
Shifting in his chair, he continued. "Judith can well speak for herself, and will answer any questions you ask her, but to put things into perspective, I will try to lay the initial groundwork."
"Judith is thirty-four years old, and until recently, she led a normal life. She was working as a T.V. reporter for the local news station, part-time, and also for the Hillsborough Crisis Counseling Center, specifically for the crisis hotline."
"She is a divorced mother of two children, both girls; one eight and one twelve. Even though divorced, she is on good terms with her former husband and since the divorce they have shared homes on more than one occasion."
"Judith is a heavy smoker and so are most of her co-workers at the Rape Crisis Center. A couple years ago, a hypnotist came to Clearwater selling hypnosis as a cure for smoking. Some of Judith's co-workers signed up for the sessions. Judith also intended to, but could not get into a session that did not conflict with her schedule. In fact, several of her co-workers found themselves in the same boat--desire but no ability."
"Hearing of their problem, one of the psychologists at the Center offered that he was studying hypnosis and volunteered to treat this group for free. His name was Red Greely, and Judith and some of the others decided to take him up on his offer. They began a series of sessions, each one in private."
"At first things proceeded rather benignly, with Judith feeling little difference before or after a session. She was a willing subject and readily slipped into a hypnotic trance under Red's tutelage. In fact, after only a couple of sessions Red had only to say a few words and Judith was under."
Dr. Trey wiped his mouth with a handkerchief and continued. "After a few sessions, strange things began to happen. Strange things not connected to smoking cessation. Judith began having frightening dreams, waking up in bed while drenched in sweat and filled with almost paralyzing fear. Her nightmares invoked scenes of child rapes and blood sacrifices. More importantly, Red began to notice major changes in Judith's personality when she was under hypnosis."
"While under, Judith's voice and demeanor would change, and she would talk and act like a child. Sometimes, the effect was still present at the end of a session and she would be disoriented and not understand where she was."
"On the job, Judith became forgetful, unable to communicate, ill-tempered and physically exhausted. Her whole life was turning topsy-turvy. She did not and could not understand what was going on."
"Finally, Red sat her down after one session and told her that he suspected she suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder, MPD. He said he had some training in treating MPD and offered to treat Judith. He agreed to bill her group insurance company and accept what they paid and waive the difference. Since he had a private practice as well as his practice at the center, he could treat and bill her in a way that would not bring her under the scrutiny of her peers at the center."
"Desperately wanting to end this confusion and fear, Judith agreed to immediate treatment and the sessions began in earnest. Over time, Judith attended sessions in Red's office and in a trailer at the center. After many, many sessions, Red identified what he claimed were forty different personalities living in Judith's body."
Dr. Trey must have noticed my eyes rolling, for he stopped, looked hard at me. "How much do you know about MPD?"
"Other than watching the movie about the different faces of Eve, absolutely nothing." I replied. "In fact", I said, "I'm not at all sure that I believe in MPD. For all I know it's nothing more than psychological hocus pocus."
At this astute pronouncement, Joe rolled her eyes and let out a loud sigh. To his credit, Dr. Trey only smiled. Judith said nothing, and did not react at all to my statement, only sat there looking demure and waiting for Dr. Trey to get on with it.
"MPD is a very real psychological phenomenon and is recognized by the American Board of Psychiatry. Numerous cases have been diagnosed and subjected to in-depth studies. Thousands of cases are treated each year throughout the U.S. Almost all of the true MPD cases develop as a result of physical and psychological trauma of such a magnitude that the mind cannot cope with the problem head on. And, almost all of these traumas occur at a very early age, even as early as one year old or less."
"Generally, as the trauma develops, the young child, unable to cope with reality, develops a separate area of the mind that is devoted to assimilating the traumatic data. This isolated area of the mind preserves the data and keeps it secret from the rest of the mind, thus allowing the remainder of the mind and body to function in a normal state as though nothing untoward were occurring."
"There are different levels of importance with these personalities. The core personality is the primary personality of the individual. Picture, if you will, a large oak tree. The trunk of the tree is the core personality. The main branches are strong alternate personalities with the twigs and leaves being minor or insignificant personalities."
"Most MPDs have only two or three different personalities or alter egos, if you feel more comfortable with that. Judith has more. Although we have tentatively named and identified about thirty, probably between six and eight actual personalities truly exist. The rest are individual segments in time; leaves of the tree, if you will."
"Wait a minute," I said. "You're saying that this lady across the table from me has over thirty personalities, six or eight of which are actually other persons than the one I am looking at?"