UNDO THE PARALYSIS
Dreamed 1985/7/14 by Chris Wayan
I'm a woman living centuries in the future. Both my arms are paralyzed, right up to my shoulders. It's no accident or illness, but deliberate brain-damage done years ago by medical technicians. It wasn't so much motor damage as MOTIVATION damage--I'm still wired to move my hands, but can't see how or why...
Experimental surgery might cure me. But maybe not, and they only do one a month, and there are THOUSANDS of victims like me. Radical Anxiety Therapy was used widely... on undesirables.
I do try a new drug and it helps a bit; regain some use of one arm. But the drug's known to be only temporary--dangerous if used too long.
I spend most of my window of mobility just using my good hand to lift the other and bend it to grasp things--hopelessly remembering what it was like. The dead hand will "set" into place, and passively hold things. But it's like posing a mannequin... or a corpse. Brings home to me how hopeless it is. I'm part thing, now.
When the drug has to be discontinued, I'm surprised to find the techniques I learned stay with me. It's INITIATIVE that the braindamage blocks. But moving one hand, and placing the other to use as a sort of clamp... these are now habits. I decide to try training them to do more. Practice new motions with my good arm, and push my bad hand into new positions and sequences. Find that if I go through the motions by PUSHING it, later it'll repeat those motions. I can expand my repertoire, do anything--if I just practice it enough.
The doctors were wrong. I CAN heal myself. Medical miracle!
NOTE ON WAKING
Radical Anxiety Therapy, deliberate brain-damage = what they did to Rat, the hero of Sam Delany's Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand. By killing a few brain cells, they remove all his fears... and thus most of his motivation! Without his anxieties, he's passive, content... exploitable. He eventually acquires prosthetic replacements: rings that supply fear! And then he can function.
I'm very shy, socially almost paralyzed. The dream suggests that those of us unable to take social initiative may be able to repeat healthy behavior, if we're walked through the motions repeatedly. Sheer practice doesn't undo the childhood damage... but even if you're clumsy and slow and limited, the job gets done. And that's what matters.
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