He hunched himself

“He hunched himself against the corner where wall meets floor, where morning meets night,

where fight meets flight, and paralysis becomes the oasis in the desert of everlasting day.”

The isolation room is where psychiatric patients are placed when their behavior on the ward is  seen and experienced by the staff as too threatening to be managed in the company of others. There are moments for the Hunched Man when he experiences the control over his Impulses as too fragile to be trusted in public. His defense is to become stuck in the moment, a perversion of the popular recommendation that we should all live in the moment.

Internal rythmn and choreography are required to live effectively in the moment, to participate in the “dance of life”. His innards are often too discordant. I suspect that as audience to a musical, our pleasure is at our unconscious inner participation; the whispering recognition that we are in some odd combination of passivity and action, living in those moments.

The Hunched Man, (from here on referred to as H. M. ) lost or never had that connection. His life from childhood was lived among shadows. Without the capacity to survive the vulnerability that love requires, the people in his life had no substance. The word,  “understanding” was a meaningless arrangement of pieces of the alphabet.

Nevertheless, he was expected to live in the same way that the shadows lived. He was the eldest of three children, close in age. He met a sister when he was two, and a brother a year later. To his ears, the family was loud and inarticulate. As far as he could tell, the neighbors would agree.

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