(an old poem, from July 2008)
The treatment is pioneering, and never more in demand than now as in daily dozens the sore-afflicted lope into reception, thousand-yard- staring and gritting their teeth. In stage one --- diagnosis --- the patient, extensively instrumented, is prompted to home in on his stress-trigger which blooms across the screen as it is spoken. Graphs are extrapolated, correlations mapped by costly hardware in the east wing, codenamed BRAINIAC --- appropriately, as it too is a cluster of very many small functions running massively in parallel. This takes time; the patient is offered a glass of water, which he invariably slops. Stage two is treatment. For this the patient is strapped down, and a warm moist pad laid across the temples. Much of what happens next takes place outside the field of vision. There is an intense buzzing, and migraine- like aura; ideation follows, a fugue of daily life with obscene interjections, evidently- imaginable horrors peeling from the wallpaper. This passes; the buzzing persists with tiny modulations. Nurses loom. The last half-hour or so is frankly boring. The apparatus, referred to in acronym exclusively, weakens the connections between trauma and the life sustaining it. Nothing of what happened is forgotten; only that it mattered - that it had to be accounted for, and could not be. It dissolves, say its inventors, moral problems like those of pain and evil, which are not in their opinion worth half the trouble people take with them. "Pain's just a signal; likewise moral pain, a crude reflex of early conditioning usually received too late to be of value. What's eating these guys is emotional neuralgia, a maddening unscratchable itch. Why not just make it go away?" The project leader gestures through the window. Outside young soldiers smile at their young children, hold hands with girlfriends, jape boyishly with the buddies they came in with. "Why not ask them", he says, "if they _feel_ violated?"