New Fiction: Dry Cleaner Shrink by Jane Goodwin
Note: This is an excerpt from a novel of the same name.
SARAH, age 46-52, gives friendly greeting even though no positive reception given by researcher. Researcher purposefully gives negative reaction to measure whether subject’s cheery disposition is situational or a consistent trait. Three efforts are made to turn interaction unpleasant. Sarah remains cheerful indicating it is not external stimulus that affects her. Researcher surmises she has been involved or is involved in abusive relationship.
Test given at 6:42 pm. Subject asked to draw a person.
Subject draws: A woman with no neck.
Researcher’s thoughts: Subject was not aware that she didn’t include a neck: she added a necklace to the drawn woman’s outfit. This points to history of assault involving either attempted strangulation or a method of restraint involving subject’s neck. Researcher notes that subject is wearing three necklaces and speculates this, as well as cheerful disposition not correlating with situation, is a defensive manoeuvre.
Researcher recommends: The adoption of a cat or dog from local shelter.
Follow-up consult: Subject arrives with large grey dog, not a recognizable breed, cheeks red as if been out walking. Subject thanks researcher for his suggestion and invites him to a trip to the dog park on Sunday. This spontaneous invitation of a relatively unknown male to a non-sexual occasion indicates subject’s abuser was a male as she is now trying to gather non-threatening male companions. Researcher declines invitation and notes that subject has no noticeable signs of disappointment (lowered eyes, slower speech.)
BILL, age 51-53, large man, dress shirt, designer glasses with smeared lenses indicates he lives alone. Subject carrying plastic shopping bag. Contents of bag: cayenne pepper, lemons and a bag of regular flavoured potato chips. Presence of cayenne pepper and lemon but no other vegetables and inclusion of junk food points to subject’s desire to improve circulation but not for health benefits. Researcher postulates subject leads a boring life and is aware of it.
Test given at 5:34 pm. Subject given Situation Photo #21.
Subject’s interpretation of photo: Man carrying unopened umbrella has just bought it to pack for a vacation he is taking to Cuba.
Researcher’s thoughts: The unopened umbrella’s connection to something pleasurable like a vacation points to homosexuality of subject. The organization of bringing an umbrella to a sunny destination shows that subject does not have a lot of money. This suggestion contradicts researcher’s earlier observation of expensive eyewear. However subject’s use of plastic shopping bag as opposed to pre-meditative canvas shopping bag implies that subject is an impulse shopper with multiple credit cards.
Researcher recommends: Developing Saturday night routine of going dancing. Researcher states this will help improve subject’s circulation.
Follow-up consult: Subject has not gone dancing, but has bought himself a new briefcase. Researcher researched cost of briefcase and found that, without taxes, the cost was $2,500. Researcher infers that subject gave dancing on Saturday nights serious thought but self-diagnosed he was not stylish enough and is now in serious debt.
EDITH, age 82-84, suffers horrible eyesight. Subject squinted until she was a couple feet from researcher and only then did eyes relax to normal position. Researcher asked why she wasn’t wearing glasses. Subject responded that she had lost them. Subject continuously touched forehead and temples during interaction indicating headache, a symptom of squinting for long periods of time. Researcher surmises that subject lives alone and in light of her pastel floral patterned shirt which is in good condition but more suited for summer months, subject’s children have not visited her for at least five months. Evidence of children gathered by fond look subject gave two small boys passing by window during interaction.
Test given at 2:13 pm. Subject shown inkblot #7.
Subject sees: Three women jumping off a balcony.
Researcher’s thoughts: This is an unusual answer. Perhaps subject’s odd interpretation of inkblot #7, which is mostly circular in shape, is due to short sightedness. However this hypothesis is not consistent with researcher’s observation of subject during test performance. Subject showed no signs of difficulty in clearly making out inkblot: no repositioning of paper/stance.
Researcher’s recommendations: No clinical recommendations given at this time due to insufficient results from test. Researcher however did recommend subject calling Health Canada to see about assistance in acquiring new pair of glasses.
Follow-up consult: Subject arrived squinting and without new glasses. Wasn’t wearing proper winter coat. Researcher asked about status of new glasses. Subject stated that her daughter would be visiting her soon and would get her the new glasses then. Subject given second inkblot test using inkblot #303. Subject sees: three women jumping off a balcony.
MARION, age 35-38, arrives with heightened eyebrows as if in state of shock or surprise. First words of greeting are “I’m sorry,” a phrase subject said twelve times during interaction for the following reasons:
1) Accidentally flipping corner of carpet up with her foot as she entered.
2) Setting purse down on desk and metal clasp making noise.
3) (To a prosthetic plant) for accidentally brushing it with elbow.
4) Asking the time and then noticing wall clock.
5) Interrupting (although researcher viewed it as a natural segue in conversation).
6) Quickly answering phone call.
7) Quickly answering text message.
8) Asking researcher’s name.
9) Having only credit card and no cash.
10) Dropping receipt.
11) Accidentally walking away with researcher’s pen.
12) Pulling door instead of pushing.
Researcher postulates that subject suffers from extreme guilt due to highly controlled upbringing and a perceived sense of undeserved happiness. Gold “happy face” sticker at hem of subject’s skirt implies small child at home, or subject is a school teacher.
Test given at 9:07 am. Subject given true or false statement: “I enjoy collecting seashells at the seashore.”
Subject answers: False.
Researcher’s thoughts: Subject is chronic over-thinker. Particular statement was designed to induce positive response due to free association in test-takers mind of statement’s close phrasing to nursery rhyme. Test-taker subconsciously thinks “isn’t this from a nursery rhyme?” leading to a “true” response not relating to their enjoyment of collecting shells. Subject clearly has fear of impulsive responses which is evident as well in tightness of belt and wristwatch.
Researcher recommends: Fifteen minutes daily of guided meditation.
Follow-up consult: Meditation CD purchased by subject broken in half by three-year-old son shortly after opening. Researcher asked if this event occurred during meditation. Subject answered that it had not. Researcher asked if subject had listened to CD prior to its destruction. Subject answered that she had not indicating conscientious traits such as sense of duty and follow-through but also an inability to help herself. Subject apologized twice for broken CD.
DINA, age 26-29, pleasant demeanour to man wearing London Fog coat exiting as subject entered but contradicting condescending attitude towards researcher who was wearing no noticeable brands indicates authoritarian personality. Subject patted pocket five times during interaction pointing to a highly superstitious but not well organized nature. Price inquiry with look of suspicion (narrowed eyes, aggressive stance) leads researcher to believe subject is cheap. Subject stood with one leg in front of other indicating need to use washroom. Subject’s obvious refusal to use public washroom signifies conspiracy theorist leanings.
Test given at 4:06 pm. Subject asked to interpret Situational Photo #33.
Subject’s interpretation: Before giving answer subject asked where photograph was taken. Researcher replied that the location was of no importance but to focus on situation. Subject insisted on being told at least a country. Researcher stated that the photo was taken in Canada to avoid further conflict. Subject stated that dog tied to park bench had a bomb in its belly. Researcher asked how subject’s interpretation would have differed if she had been told photo was taken in England. Subject studied photo again and said dog was waiting for owner who had gone into a shop just out of view to purchase a muffin.
Researcher’s thoughts: Differing interpretations based on countries as well as second button from top on subject’s exposed cardigan being mismatched points to a highly idealized remembrance of past. Addition of an unseen muffin indicates subject is dieting.
Researcher recommends: Beginning a craft or outdoor project that involves a heavy use of the hands.
Follow-up consult: Subject has not begun hands-on project but instead has come up with method to re-organize items behind researcher’s desk. Subject initially attempted to verbally explain new organization system but resorted to drawing diagram when researcher confessed confusion. Subject has messy handwriting, indication of low follow-through. To end subject’s repeated refrain of reassurance regarding efficiency of new system, researcher agreed to heed drawn diagram. Given subject’s nature it is unlikely that she will notice her advice has not been taken upon next interaction.
Read it: http://theneweryork.com/dry-cleaner-shrink-jane-goodwin/