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Escaping Psychiatry: Escaping Psychiatry, #1
Escaping Psychiatry: Escaping Psychiatry, #1
Escaping Psychiatry: Escaping Psychiatry, #1
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Escaping Psychiatry: Escaping Psychiatry, #1

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'Escaping Psychiatry' has it all: intriguing characters, noir style, thrilling pursuits, dangerous situations, crime, serial killers, religion, family secrets, murder, psychological insights, mental illness, trauma, debates about prejudice and morality, heated trials, police investigations, corruption, and mystery. If you enjoy 'Wire in the Blood', 'Cracker' and 'Lie to Me' and you are not scared of going deeper and darker, dare to read on.
'Escaping Psychiatry' is a collection of three stories with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.
In 'Cannon Fodder', Phil, a lawyer who and Mary's friend asks her to provide a report on one of his clients, a young African-American man called Cain White. Cain is a very religious man and has been accused of inciting a riot at a religious meeting. He says he can hear God's voice. He insists that God is black and his appears to be a Black Nationalist message. Is Cain insane, deluded, misguided, looking for media-attention, or a Saint? To find an answer to these questions Mary talks to his family and friends. Although she concludes he is sane,Mary's investigation uncovers some very damaging revelations about his family life, beliefs and local attitudes. Who is a saint and who is a sinner is a matter for debate. The more Mary gets involved in the lives of Cain and those close to him the more she realises how dangerous secrets are. Like time-bombs ready to set off any minute.
'Teamwork': Captain Tom McLeod, from the San Francisco Police Department, invites Mary for a meal at home with his wife. When she meets their other guest, a young detective called Justin, she quickly realises there is an agenda well beyond a friendly meal. Justin's partner, mentor and father figure, Sgt David Leaman, was killed a couple of months earlier during a routine investigation. Justin witnessed the event but he insists in going back to work and refusing any therapy or counselling. Tom and others at the department are concerned about his mental state but have failed to convince him to accept professional help. Both Mary and Justin are reluctant to engage in the ambush/informal consultation organised, but eventually decide to give it a try. At first sight it appears to be a straight forward case of unresolved grief, but things aren't as clear-cut as they appear and Mary ends up getting too personally involved with the case, to the detriment of her professional objectivity.
In 'Memory', Mary runs out of her apartment after a difficult encounter with her friend Phil, and goes missing. When she is found it seems that she was hit in the head, abducted, raped and she is suffering from amnesia. She never recovers memory for the assault and finds it difficult to come to terms with something she cannot recall.  The clues point towards a serial killer who could not finish his job in her case. But some things do not fit in. Who disturbed the killer? Why was she left there? The crime and the investigation surrounding it have a profound impact on Mary who decides that she needs to reconsider her life and start anew.
The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?
Although these stories are fictional, the author, a forensic psychiatrist, brings her expertise and insight to the material, lifting it above a standard crime caper.

LanguageEnglish
Release dateFeb 3, 2014
ISBN9781910214022
Escaping Psychiatry: Escaping Psychiatry, #1
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Author

Olga Núñez Miret

Escriptora, Doctorada en literatura Americana, màsters en criminologia, psiquiatre, i devoradora de llibres, l'Olga Núñez Miret va començar a publicar els seus llibres, en anglès i castellà, el 2012, i ara hi ha més de 20 amb el seu nom, un blog (en anglès i castellà, de moment), i també ha traduït els llibres d'altres escriptors independents (castellà-anglès i viceversa). Coneix a molts autors a les xarxes socials, publica moltes ressenyes, va viure al Regne Unit més de 25 anys, però ara ha tornat a casa, a Barcelona, on col·labora a Sants 3 Ràdio, i continua llegint, escrivint, i donant alguna classe d'anglès, a més d'anar traduint els seus llibres al català.

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    Escaping Psychiatry - Olga Núñez Miret

    Escaping Psychiatry

    By

    Olga Núñez Miret

    Text copyright ©2013 Olga Núñez Miret

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

    Cover art: Ernesto Valdes

    Published by : Olga Núñez Miret (Just Olga Books)

    Prologue

    First of all, and before I forget, there is a prequel to this book, called Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings. This book is available free in most digital book stores (do check). It is not necessary to read the prequel before you read this book though (I wrote it later, as I was working in the next story in the series and the first one came to my head) but if you enjoy it and are intrigued to read more of Mary’s adventures, don’t miss the chance to get it.

    Next I wanted to share the process of creating this book. I wrote the first story in Escaping Psychiatry, ‘Cannon Fodder’ many years back (by my count it was 1998-1999) whilst I was studying a year abroad at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. I shared it with a creative writing tutor and also with my tutor back at Sussex University in the UK (Maria Lauret). Both of them liked it, but commented on its awkward length. It was too long for a short story, so probably not good material for a magazine, but too short for a novel. One of the suggestions was that I could maybe write several stories sharing the same protagonists and publish them altogether. I parked the idea as I was finishing my degree in American Literature, then went onto a PhD on ‘The Films of David Mamet’ and after trying with no success to find work teaching at university I went back to my first career, Medicine, and more specifically Psychiatry, where again studies and jobs kept me occupied. Eventually about a year and a half ago I re-read ‘Cannon Fodder’ and remembered the advice. I wrote two other stories with Mary, the main character, a psychiatrist and writer, as protagonist ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Memory’ and later in December 2012 I published them as separate novellas within the series. After some comments from people randomly reading some of the stories I decided I should join them all together, as they were intended to be, with an epilogue, and see how people feel.

    I hope you enjoy them and if you do, check my other books and contact me with feedback. Thank you.

    Table of Contents

    Prologue

    Cannon Fodder

    Teamwork

    Memory

    Epilogue

    Cannon Fodder

    Mary had left her first career in Psychiatry for Literature. She was still interested in people, but couldn’t avoid getting sidetracked by the individuals, whom she usually found more interesting than their mental illnesses. She had been ‘away from civilisation’ for a couple of months working on a story, and Phil’s letter was all news to her.

    She’d met Phil at University. They’d attended seminars and lectures on the race question and she knew that Phil had taken that line of work on his daily practice.

    Phil’s request was surprising. He wanted a report on the mental state of a young man he was defending. He was supposed to have incited a group of African-Americans to riot in a religious meeting in a small town in Georgia. The young man, Cain White, had said to anybody interested in listening to him, that God spoke to him. God’s message seemed to be Black Nationalist in content: love yourselves, black is beautiful, you are morally superior...The pro- and against-Cain factions ended up fighting and the police intervened. They let Cain off on bail, but the situation had got out of hand. Newspapers got involved, people began calling Cain ‘saint’, they talked about his ‘miracles’, the authorities said he was mad...Phil was his solicitor and wanted a report. When Mary had protested saying that there were more highly qualified experts than her and that she wasn’t even working as a Psychiatrist now, Phil said that Cain had refused to see anybody else. He didn’t mind her because she was a writer, but he didn’t want a shrink.

    She read the file Phil had sent her, on the way to meet Cain. He had asked for an informal place and she wanted to avoid the hysteria of his hometown. She knew she’d had to interview his family and friends but she wanted to meet him on his own and in neutral ground. New York was as unlikely a place as any other, and the café at the Metropolitan Museum, even more so.

    The file gave her facts. 23 years old, the oldest of five children, three boys and two girls. His father had died of cancer when Cain was 10 and he’d helped his mother support the family. His mother never remarried and Cain’s childhood had been trouble-free. Never played truant, no problems with the law, no drugs, no alcohol...He was an average student and left school at 16. He’d been working since. One of his brothers had run away and nobody knew where he was. His 20 y.o. sister was married and had an 8 months old baby, and he was financing his other brother and sister’s high school.

    His personal life was a mystery. He didn’t seem to have any girlfriends, but he had many friends of both sexes.

    He’d never been particularly religious, and his only hobbies seemed to be running and watching movies.

    There was no history of psychiatric illnesses in the family and the school reports described him as a normal child, well adapted, with no psychological problems.

    Mary got to the café a few minutes early. Cain was sitting at a table close to the window, as they had agreed, and drinking a milkshake. He looked very young, no older than 19 and he was tall and slim. He was a deep brown colour, like dark chocolate, his hair was very short and he was wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt. His trainers didn’t look new or expensive. He looked up at her, and smiled.

    Mary...Cain.

    She shook his hand. He stood up.

    A drink? A milkshake? It’s good for you. He asked.

    I’ll get something. Do you want anything else? Something to eat?

    Is that part of your assessment? How I eat?

    Mary had found the same guarded reaction in many people. Nothing especial about it.

    No. Do you think it should be? It’s nearly lunch time and you’ve had a long journey. That’s all.

    My sister made me take some sandwiches.

    I don’t have a sister. Do you want a piece of cake, or...?

    Apple pie if they have any, thanks.

    She got his pie, some cheesecake and an orange juice for her.

    Thanks.

    No problem.

    They ate in silence. Cain went to the toilet.

    I’m a bit nervous.

    It’s normal. Do you want to go for a walk?

    Don’t you have to take notes?

    I have a reasonable memory, and a tape recorder if you don’t mind.

    It’s fine.

    After some general questions about his job and family, and medical illnesses, she asked him about his sleep, appetite, and mood...

    I’m fine. I sleep like a log, I have a good appetite, and I feel on top of the world.

    But not ‘the top of the world’.

    Oh, no, no. I’m only me, Cain White, a fairly normal boy.

    Do you think fairly normal boys say they can hear God?

    I don’t know any who say that, but that’s probably because they can’t hear him. But I do.

    Do you hear his voice as you hear me? Is it a voice outside your head?

    It’s difficult to explain. It isn’t a voice like anything I’ve ever heard before. It isn’t a man or a woman, it’s God.

    How do you know?

    Because the voice says so. And I believe it.

    Does it talk to you or does it talk about you or others?

    It talks to me.

    Does it call your name?

    Yes...It says something like: Cain, listen. There’s something I want you to tell the others. Tell them they must love themselves. Tell them they are beautiful.

    Who are the others?

    Black people.

    You mean God is talking to the black people through you.

    I mean God is black.

    Mary had to bite her lip not to smile. Cain wouldn’t stand a chance if the judge were white and conservative.

    You don’t believe me.

    Mary looked at him straight in the eyes.

    I’m not trying to determine if God is black or white or any other colour.

    You only want to know if I am mad. I guess I must be a raving lunatic to say things like that to a white psychiatrist.

    Do you think black psychiatrists have different criteria for diagnosing madness?

    Probably not.

    This voice, is it inside you head or outside?

    Outside. I’m not imagining it.

    I didn’t say you were. Do you hear it at any particular time of the day or in a particular place?

    No. It comes to me any time, any place.

    When was the first time you heard that voice?

    I heard it once as a child, just after my father died, telling me that I should look after my mother and siblings. And then, a few months ago. First I thought I was tired and I was hallucinating. But I had to accept it. It was God.

    Are you taking drugs?

    I don’t touch the stuff. I’m not off my head or anything like that. he said in a brisk manner.

    I must ask this type of questions.

    OK.

    They sat on a bench opposite a cubist painting by Picasso.

    I’m sure a few people thought he was mad. Cain said pointing at the painting.

    Probably. Cain...This voice is never threatening or nasty...

    No. God couldn’t be threatening or nasty.

    Can you control the voice? Can you make it shut up?

    Why should I want it to shut up? At the beginning I tried to make it go away but the only thing that worked...

    The only thing that worked...

    He blushed. The people (white) who say that blacks don’t blush should have seen Cain.

    ...was thinking bad things.

    Like?

    Like...

    They walked past a nude painting. He averted his gaze.

    Sex? She suggested.

    Yes. He doesn’t like that.

    Are you saying that sex is bad?

    God doesn’t like that type of thoughts.

    He seemed very embarrassed and she decided to let him off for the moment.

    Have you ever thought that you could read other people’s minds, or that other people could control you or could put thoughts into your mind?

    Sometimes God tells me what other people are thinking.

    Has he told you about me?

    He’s very quiet at the moment.

    She couldn’t avoid the smile this time.

    You don’t take me seriously. I’m not a joke.

    Sorry. It wasn’t what you said, but the way you said it. You’re very honest. It isn’t common to find somebody who says what he thinks.

    I do.

    Cain didn’t have any other symptoms of mental illness. Apart from God’s voice there were no other indications of psychosis, and his mood was even.

    Have you ever thought of suicide?

    Suicide is sin...Only once, when my father died. I thought about jumping of a bridge. I went there. Then I heard God’s voice telling me to look after my mother and...

    Couldn’t it have been you father’s voice?

    Cain smiled.

    I thought so at the time. But now I know better. It was God.

    Did you think you would become famous when you first talked about hearing God?

    I only talked about it because God told me to do so.

    What does your mum think?

    She knows I am not a liar. She trusts me.

    And your brother and sisters?

    They believe what I say.

    Do you think you have been elected by God?

    I only know he’s talking to me. I’m his instrument. I must do as He tells me.

    Some people are saying that you can cure illnesses by touching someone.

    I’ve heard that. I don’t know. I only know that if God wants me to heal somebody by touching he will make me able to do so.

    The religious talk was getting too heavy for Mary’s liking. She decided to move away from it.

    You enjoy running and films.

    I run 6 miles a day. I don’t have time for more.

    What type of films?

    I like old musicals, and 30s and 50s horror movies, and...most things.

    Modern movies?

    Yes, but some of them I find too violent and...

    Too much sex. Mary finished.

    Yes.

    Do you have a girlfriend Cain?

    No.

    A boyfriend?

    I’m perfectly normal!

    It was the first time he’d risen his voice. How peculiar!

    Do you think gays aren’t normal?

    I’m as tolerant as anybody else. I think they are normal.

    And God? What does he think about them?

    God accepts people as they are.

    Have you ever had a girlfriend?

    Cain fixed his gaze on an abstract sculpture.

    Yes and no. Yes, I have gone out with a couple of girls. No, I haven’t had sex with them.

    You’re still a virgin.

    So are you.

    The affirmation froze her. She decided to draw a line to avoid losing it.

    We’re talking about you.

    Sorry. You’re right. I am a virgin. I am not ashamed of it. I think God wanted me that way that’s why things never developed with the two girls.

    God wanted you pure?

    You could put it that way.

    You have a very strange attitude towards sex for a boy your age. I suppose not that strange for a saint, though. Or a prophet.

    He looked at her and smiled.

    You don’t believe me. But you have the same attitude I have.

    You don’t know what attitude I have, Cain. And, I don’t go preaching to anybody else to do as I do. I think we should be free... She stopped. She couldn’t let him control the conversation. She didn’t need to defend herself. ‘She’ was doing the report. She stood in front of a painting for a few minutes, to recover her poise. Then she started with the questions again.

    Tell me about your family. Do they come from Georgia too?

    Dad did. He’d always lived in Wingfield, but my mum was born here, in New York, Harlem. When her mother died, when she was 5 or 6 she went to live with one of her aunties in Wingfield. Dad was a couple of years older but they met at a ball. Mum always says that he was the tallest and handsomest man that evening. It was love at first sight.

    You said your mother went to Georgia when her mother died. What about her father?

    She never met him. He was a white man. When my grandmother got pregnant he didn’t want to know. I think he married some white girl instead. My mother wanted to marry a dark man. My father was darker than I am. We’re all quite dark, but Steve.

    Steve?

    The second oldest.

    The one who run away?

    Yes...He was very light. Most people didn’t believe he was black. My grandparents...

    You father’s parents...

    Yes. They were quite upset when he married mum. They didn’t want mixed blood.

    I don’t think that’s easy to avoid in this country.

    Cain ignored her comment and carried on.

    They accepted the facts but they always treated Steve worse than the rest.

    Is that why he left?

    Cain looked at the floor.

    It was hard for my mother when my father died, on her own. I tried to help...

    It’s a long time to be alone.

    She wasn’t alone. She had us.

    It isn’t exactly the same as having a husband, a companion, a...

    My mother didn’t mind. She was far too busy for men.

    Mary realised that line of questioning wouldn’t get her far. She decided to try something different.

    Tell me about your brothers and sisters.

    There was Steve

    Was?

    Well, we don’t know where he is. Then Dinah, Tom, and Mandy.

    Dinah is your married sister, isn’t she?

    Yes. She’s got a little girl. Very pretty. Mum gives her a hand with the baby sometimes. She lives nearby.

    What do you think of your brother-in-law?

    He’s OK.

    Cain didn’t seem very enthusiastic about his sister’s husband.

    Tom and Mandy are students, aren’t they?

    Yes. Tom wants to be an Architect. Dad always liked drawing and designing things but he couldn’t go to school that long. He was a mechanic.

    And your mother?

    She works as a private nurse. Mandy wants to be a Social Worker. I’m very proud of them. They are hard working and very good students.

    Who’s closest to you?

    Cain looked at Mary in the eye. He sighed.

    I love them all, and they love and respect me. But, because I was helping mum and trying to keep the discipline I became more a father than a brother to them, and some of the trust was lost. They wouldn’t share some things with me because they knew I wouldn’t keep the secret. I had to do what was best.

    You had a difficult childhood then.

    I was very happy until I was 10. After that I couldn’t only think of enjoying myself. I had a duty to perform. His voice sounded like that of a much older man.

    You were a child.

    That was fate, I suppose. I don’t complain. I did what I had to do, but I’ve been rewarded. They’re all well.

    And you?

    God is with me, what else do I need?

    Mary preferred him when he talked about anything but God.

    You were born in Wingfield.

    Yes.

    Normal birth? No problems?

    No. I was a small baby. Mum had to have a caesarean section with Steve, but not with me.

    Did you develop well? Did you walk, talk, at the normal ages?

    Yes. All normal.

    Any problems during your childhood? Nightmares? Wetting the bed?

    I dreamed of Dad for a few months after he died, but they weren’t real nightmares. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t wet the bed.

    Did you enjoy school?

    "It was all right. I wasn’t

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