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Psyche 1001 Case Study #43

Copyright 1982 by Bruce Jaeger. All rights reserved.  Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, March 1983

     (NOTE TO STUDENTS: This case is from the notebooks of the famous Iron Range psychiatrist, Dr. Sigurd Freudson, one of the leading figures in modern psychoanalysis. The patient, Luke Possum (not his real name) is a banjo player, and as such exhibits the usual banjoistic tendencies; slackness of jaw, anti-social behavior, unfocused vision, drooling & halitosis, and the absolute inability to be anywhere on time.
     Mr. Possum had been placed under Dr. Freudson's care after a violent altercation involving Mr. Possum's "Bluegrass" band, the Ambassador of Norway, and the entire Altar, Rosary and Mother's Society of the town of Rust Gut, Minnesota.)

Dr. Freudson (As Luke Possum enters): Good afternoon, Mr. Possum!

Luke Possum: Who are you, hub?

Doctor: I am Dr. Freudson. Might 1 call you Luke?

Luke: Don't make no difference to me. Say, ain't you a shrink?

Doctor: Please make yourself comfortable on this couch, Luke.

Luke: You ain't gonna mess with my brains, is you?

Doctor: Someone Much Higher than me has already done that!

Luke: Huh? Look, bub, I'm a banjo player, and I don't take no nothin' from nobody!

Doctor. Relax, Luke! All we're going to do is talk! About anything you wish!

Luke: Anything?

Doctor: Certainly! I'll just ask a little question now and then, to sort of help things along. Now, Luke, what can you tell me about your father?

Luke: Well, Pop played the banjo, too, I guess.

Doctor: You guess?

Luke: I never saw him much, on account of him being in prison since I was two.

Doctor: Oh, dear!

Luke: Mom told me he wasn't much too good at it, anyhow. She never said nothin' good about him, on account of what he did to her.

Doctor: And what did he do to her?

Luke: Me.

Doctor I see. Well, Luke, what made you want to play the banjo?

Luke: All the kids that hung out on the street corner by the Adult Bookstore played banjo, and I wanted to be part of the gang. Besides, I had Dad's banjo, and I used to play it just to make Mom cry.

Doctor: Really!

Luke: Well, she threw my switchblade away, didn't she?

Doctor: She took your switchblade away?

Luke: Yeah. And I needed it real bad, too!

Doctor. Why would you need a switchblade real bad?

Luke: So I could rob enough people to buy me a gun.

Doctor. And why did you need a gun?

Luke: So's I could go downtown to the music store and get me a new banjo! A Gibson flathead with gold plating and mother of pearl and . . .

Doctor: But Luke! That would have been stealing!

Luke: Huh?

Doctor: Never mind How did you get into your first "Bluegrass" band?

Luke: I told Jimmy Haskins that I'd break his sister's arm if he didn't let me play.

Doctor. And what did he do?

Luke: Well, he let me in the band! I bet it was him that killed my mother's dog, though!

Doctor. What was the band called?

Luke: It was called "Jimmy's Tater Picker's." 'Course, I thought it was a crummy name when I joined, and I got 'em to change it.

Doctor. Let me guess . . .

Luke: Yep, "Luke's Tater Pickers." Well, I WAS the star and all.

Doctor. YOU were the star?

Luke: I play banjo, don't I?

Doctor Excuse me, 1 lost my head So, Luke, did you enjoy being in this band?

Luke: Yeah, I guess so.

Doctor: You only guess so?

Luke: Well, it never seemed to be quite as much fun as I'd hoped.

Doctor: Was there something missing?

Luke: Maybe. I don't know. Sometimes, well, I don't know if I really like the banjo.

Doctor. After all these years?

Luke: Yeah. I think I know what I really want to play, though.

Doctor: What's that? Luke: You'll laugh at me! Doctor. Luke, I'm your DOCTOR! Trust me!

Luke: Well, okay. My pop plays one in the prison band. It's a glok . . . a glukon . . . a . . .

Doctor: A glockenspiel! You, a tough, hard-nosed banjo player, and you want to play a glockenspiel!

Luke: Watch it, bub!

Doctor: You're right, excuse me! It's just that you sort of took me by surprise!

Luke: Well, it's true!

Doctor. Luke, I've got it all figured out, now!

Luke: You do?

Doctor. Yes! Now, the way I see it, traditional values and peer pressure are forcing you banjo players into the stereotyped role of the anti-social, caustic, mean, vicious, grumpy and tardy jerk! Just because every banjo player before you has been a hoodlum, you feel forced to become one too! Well, Luke, you can break that chain!

Luke: I can? Yes. I CAN!!!

Doctor: Luke, go forth into this world, play your banjo and your glockenspiel, and SMILE!

Luke: A banjo player smile? I don't know . . .

Doctor Luke you can do it!

Luke: You know, I think I can! I know I can! Look out world, HERE COMES LUKE POSSUM, HAPPY BANJO PLAYER!!!

DOCTORS NOTE: One of the greatest dangers in psychiatry is the potential pitfall of actually believing some of the drivel you tell your patients. Just remember, if they weren't crazy, they wouldn't be seeing you.)


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