The Dystopia Story (1): The Counseling Office

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The Dystopia Story (1): The Counseling Office
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“Lobotomy scrapes away the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex -- the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain -- to the lower center region of the brain. In early 20th century, when psychiatric myths prevailed, it was regarded as an effective treatment for mental illness patients constantly showing violent, aggressive behaviors. Many such patients were tranquilized after surgery. Some were so improved that they were discharged from the mental institutes. Dr. Walter Freeman of the United States was enthusiastic about this procedure, believing it to be the only cure for violence-associated schizophrenia. He even invented ‘ice pick surgery’: the practice of driving a thin, sharp tool through eggshell-thin bone above eye to reach brain for lobotomy. This procedure was said to take only half hour without anesthesia. By 1942, Dr. Freeman had performed the procedure more than 200 times.  

“When the enthusiasm faded, the serious side effects of lobotomy began to be recognized: alteration of personality, constant anger, mental degeneration, epilepsy, and even - death. Some of the patients claimed to be cured were actually experiencing symptoms of dementia. The procedure was bitterly criticized by human rights groups and was banned by many countries. Since then, it has been forgotten over time.”

Dr. Lin stopped here, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and drank from the water bottle. He continued: “Recently, I used functional MRI to identify precise brain regions connected to specific social behaviors in monkeys. I found long-term neglect and mental abuse can build new hotspot linkages in brain, which are associated with increased violence and aggression. Breaking the linkages with precise laser targeting effectively abolished the extreme behaviors. The monkeys became meek, willing to communicate and follow instruction. I tried many other approaches to reverse such ‘linkage of violence’, but none of them works better than the laser surgery...”

Suddenly a SWAT team stormed in the classroom. The prosecutor waved a paper, “Dr. Lin, here is your arrest warrant. You’ll come with us- we found what you did.”

Dr. Lin nodded, “I know.” He pointed to his briefcase, “Can I take those books and papers with me to read in jail?”

The prosecutor replied, “Don’t worry. We’ll take it for you.” The police handcuffed him, escorting out, leaving a full room of stunned students.

The next day “Monster Professor” was all over the news. It was revealed that Dr. Lin had opened a cleaning service, using his friend as the nominal owner. He provided a shelter with free meals and wi-fi to teen drug users and runaways. However, selected teens were brought to a basement room to receive “mental correction” surgery, turning into detail-oriented, responsible, and quiet persons without memory of their past. Those teens became the most demanded cleaners in all the office buildings of the entire metropolitan region. Dr. Lin’s company took over the cleaning market previously dominated by RoboMaid, making him lots of money.

Human rights and religious activists criticized Dr. Lin daily. Everyone wanted him executed. Eventually, he was sentenced to life without probation. He had given up appeal.

After a few months, a mysterious man went to see Dr. Lin in the maximum-security jail: “I am the Minister of the Interior.”

“I knew...” Dr. Lin pushed his glasses up, “... that someday you’d visit me, but I did not see this coming so soon... Ah, there. No wonder.”

The minister pointed a group of teens. They were lying on the floor with their wrists and ankles bound. “These scumbags dragged my grandson out of his sports car and beat him up for fun. He is now in a vegetative state just because they thought his car was too fancy.”

He ground his teeth with rage, “Their lives are all worthless. However, they will dodge any serious punishment because of their age.”

Dr. Lin said it again, “I see...”

The Minister asked, “What do you need?”

Dr. Lin answered, “Give me my briefcase. Everything I need is in the hidden pocket.”

The teens joked nastily until they saw a very thin blade, almost like an ice pick, approaching their eyes. Before they could yell in panic they were all gagged with rags in their mouths.

“Don’t be afraid.” Dr. Lin explained calmly, “I have improved the technique and I guarantee you no pain. It took Dr. Freeman half hour to finish it for a patient. With my innovative technique, it will take only five minutes to turn you to a better person. You are a group of six. I will finish in just half an hour...”

The minister of the interior never told anyone what had happened to his grandson. Eventually, people forgot about the “Monster Professor”. A few months later, the Minister announced his plan to reduce criminal rate of teenagers. He forcingly lobbied Congress to pass an act to abolish jails for under-aged inmates. Instead, a “School of Caring and Acceptance” was founded to house them. The terms “inmates” or “criminals” was banned. Dr. Niel, the most influential psychiatrist in the media, was to be hired as the Director of the School. It was hailed as the future model of justice system – all based on his advanced psychiatric theory.

Dr. Niel walked through the campus, fantasizing about how he would heroically save society by turning criminals into “normal kids” with therapeutic technique. As he strolled the halls, he noticed a corner that needed cleaning. He beckoned to a man leaving the Counselling Office with a broom in hand.

Dr. Niel asked, “What is your name?”

“Lin.” The janitor replied, “I am the inmate assigned to clean the building.”

Dr. Niel said, “There are no ‘inmates’ here! Haven’t I told everyone? Anyway, we will have lots of visitors soon. Could you clean up this corner as soon as possible?”

Lin answered, “Sure, of course.” Dr. Niel noticed that Lin kept glancing at the door of The Counseling Office.

“What are you looking at?” Dr. Niel asked.

Lin grinned, "I am pretty sure anyone entering the Counselling Office will leave a new person..."

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