Dr. Spiro's Cure
By: Meagan Hamilton

"New college graduates will do about anything you tell them to do." Dillon recalled Dr. Hudson telling a friend. It was during a clinical trial that Dillon was forced to be a part of. They had wanted Dillon to swallow an antidepressant that had not yet reached the market yet. Dillon had not even been depressed, but that hardly mattered as it was not the point. They merely wanted to see if Dillon had any physical side–affects.

Dillon was not a student anymore, even if he looked like one. He had a round face with dark eyes that often shifted about. His wavy, light brown hair laid nicely, and he often wore white, button down shirts. He had graduated with a psychiatry degree a couple months ago. His original plan was to work for a private practice, but he soon found that this had been a popular decision for many. Dillon was not very good at networking, as he came off as a timid, crybaby with no sign of decisiveness. However, he had decided to attend a psychology conference on personality theories. Dillon was not the least bit interested, as he had a medical background in psychology. The conference was primarily focused on therapeutic methods, but it was where he met Dr. Spiro.

"Reactive Attachment Disorder," Dr. Spiro had begun to speak to him during orientation a few days later. He was tall and thin with black hair that had no particular style other than to stand on end in random patches. Dillon looked around the room. It was small and dimly lit with dark blue furniture and walls. A single lamp sat on an end table on its lowest setting. The wall that the furniture faced was made of glass where you could see the bottom floor below. There were no other new employees in the room with them. "You are familiar with this?"

"Yes," Dillon said, though he had a feeling that his being familiar with it was not going to be overly helpful in this situation.

Dr. Spiro began to slowly pace, "Coffee? Why don't you sit down?"

"Sure," Dillon sat down, but Dr. Spiro did not hand him coffee or say where it was.

"Children are diagnosed with attachment disorders because it is inappropriate to diagnose any person under eighteen with an antisocial personality disorder," Dr. Spiro said.

"Right," Dillon said, cocking his head and squinting his eyes.

Dr. Spiro stood still looking out at the bottom floor. It was nearly pitch black, as it was quite late. "It's absurd."


Dr. Spiro did not even so much as twitch, "Reactive Attachment Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder are the same."

"I always thought the same thing," Dillon said without really thinking.

Dr. Spiro jerked himself toward him, "Yes, precisely. Tell me what you think of the treatments for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder."


"Don't worry, it's not a trick question."

Dillon felt that it was. He sat up a bit straighter, "Holding therapy was popular for a while."

"And what are your thoughts on holding therapy?" "It's no longer a common practice," Dillon replied.

Dr. Spiro began to smile, "Yes, but that wasn't due to lack of results, it was the negligence of the supervising therapists."

Dillon was beginning to lose all the color in his face, and he realized that he had been gripping the arm of the couch. "We're not going to – I mean – what exactly…"

"Holding therapy is a very simple procedure. The main objective is to scare the child and then calm them down to teach them empathy. But we won't be working with children. I found a way to take that same principle and apply it to adults who are antisocial."

"What in the hell is holding therapy?" Dillon's friend, George, asked as soon as Dillon explained what his new job was going to be. George was a psychologist with a thin neck and a long nose. He had a shock of red hair that looked out of place as he had no freckles. The therapy was obsolete, so it had not been mentioned in any of his clinical classes.

Dillon stood by his oven and brainlessly stirred the soup, "It's for attachment disorders. You hold a kid down in your lap and start shouting at them and threatening them until they get really scared. Then you let them up and give them hug and get them to talk about what they saw in their mind's eye. It's supposed to bring their unconscious, traumatic thoughts to the surface so that they can deal with them."

George stood in the kitchen doorway glaring at him, his large blue eyes appeared iced over. "Does it work?"

"I don't really know, but Dr. Spiro wants to do the same thing with adults who are antisocial. But he's going to use some kind of virtual reality thing to make them feel like they're being hurt. When the treatment's over, they'll be better citizens."

"How is that legal?"

Dillon plopped down into his armchair and covered his eyes. "I don't know. I guess because they aren't actually being hurt…"

"Yes, but they would have to give their consent. I don't think very many sociopaths are going to willingly subject themselves to being scared and humiliated for the good of others.

"Right, uh…" Dillon hesitated. "Technically, people who feel that they have the disorder can check themselves in, but the majority will most likely be taken in involuntarily." Before George could answer, Dillon went on. "Dr. Spiro acted like his new treatment was some kind of huge breakthrough." He uncovered his eyes, leaned into his chair, and threw his arms aloft. "He said a whole bunch of crazy things. He said that his treatment was going to cut crime in half and make murder really rare."

"Do you believe that?" George asked.

Dillon covered his eyes again, "I don't know, but the government is willing to give it a try. They're funding the whole thing."

"I gotta say, I can't really see you being able to torment people."

Dillon shrugged, "I don't know. It may really help them. Hm, I don't know, I wasn't really planning on making it my entire career."

Over the next few days, Dillon still didn't know where he really stood. Regardless, he completed a short training course and began his work. The procedure was really quite simple. The patient would be strapped down to a hospital bed and a helmet would be placed on their head. Then, the unfortunate person would be hooked up to an I.V pump that administered a new drug that was designed to make people feel terrified and experience severe pain even if nothing was wrong. The helmet read signals from the brain that sent back thoughts of what the fear was. The thoughts were then transmitted back to the brain as horrifying visuals which appeared on the small screen inside the helmet.

Dillon found that it was the screaming that bothered him the most. All of the patients lived on the third floor. Each one would be scheduled to have one treatment a day. Dillon tried to only have two being worked on at the same time, so the noise wouldn't be as bad for the rest of the patients. However, this was hardly a comfort to anyone.

Most of the patients were very disturbed to hear each other screaming, which obviously implied that the patients were scared for themselves. However, Dillon could also see sympathy in their micro–expressions. Dr. Spiro insisted to Dillon that this was undeniable proof that the treatment was working. Dillon wasn't convinced that this was not something they would have been able to do previously. In fact, Dr. Spiro seemed to be the only person who was enjoying himself in the asylum.

That morning, Dillon was knelt on the floor in the small, dark observation room, sorting through the new reports they had gotten for that day. In order to be admitted into Dr. Spiro's program, three different people had to fill out reports saying that they believed that the person in question was antisocial. Dillon had a small stack of reports that were all about a guy named Rodger Pack. Dr. Spiro walked by surveying the reports. He pointed at the pile. "Do we have a new patient?" he asked.

"Well," Dillon said, spreading the papers on the floor, "I don't think so, the examples of his antisocial behavior aren't very good. I think it's just a small group of people who hate this poor guy."

Dr. Spiro nodded, and strolled out of the room. He tended to trust Dillon's judgment, which at first seemed like a great compliment, but now Dillon was starting to wonder if Dr. Spiro just didn't care. Dillon looked at his watch and sighed. It was time for Timothy's treatment.

Dillon made his way to the third floor. As soon as he unlocked the door, all chatter ceased. "Hello," Dillon said.

No one answered.

"Uh, okay, Timothy, you're up."

Timothy slowly stood. He had a small frame and was obviously underweight. His shaggy hair nearly hid his big, brown eyes as they stuck to the floor. Every part of his body plead as he followed Dillon down the stairs. His eyes glazed and his shoulder blades could be seen poking out from under his shirt.

"I think you're scheduled to leave in just three more days," Dillon said.

Timothy managed a small smile.

Once they got into the room, Timothy laid in his bed. Dillon got the I.V set up and hooked Timothy up to it. He then put a helmet on Timothy's head, but he didn't turn the machine on. "Do you know where your care partner is?"

"It's okay," Timothy said after a couple seconds. "I didn't want to bother her anyway."

Dillon stood still thinking for a moment. According to the treatment plan, he was supposed to have a care partner with him every single time.

"Is she busy today or something? Since you're doing so much better, we can probably move today's treatment to tomorrow…"


Dillon jumped, "Alright, that's fine."

He picked up one of the straps, but Timothy held his hand out, "Please don't strap me down. I promise I won't run away."

Dillon stood still, "I have to, it's for your safety."

Timothy sat up on his elbows, "I've never struggled or tried to run away. Please, I don't like the way it feels."

Dillon hung his head, "I'm sorry." He took a deep breath and began to lean over Timothy, "I really don't have a choice. You might fall off during this session. They're all a little different."

Timothy slowly laid back down, his eyes filled with tears.

"Tell you what, I won't put them as tight."

"Okay," Timothy whispered.

Dillon strapped Timothy down to the bed, started the machine, and turned the I.V drip on. Then Dillon left Timothy to relive his most traumatic moments, and his worst fears even if they did not really happen. Timothy wasn't a screamer, but the patient who had just finished up was. He was still sitting on his cot which was a few steps away from the one that Timothy was on. Unlike Timothy, he had his care partner with him. She was sitting beside him holding his hand while watching Dillon. She pressed her lips together, but that was the only thing about her expression that changed as she stared.

Dillon's hands were shaking slightly as he ran his fingers through his hair. He saw the woman and tried to compose himself, "Hello."

She switched over to watching Timothy as he trembled violently. "How do you live with yourself?"

Dillon put his head down for a second, not wanting her to see the fear and remorse that he knew was on his face. He managed to meet her eyes. "It's an effective treatment, it'll prevent a lot of violent crimes…"

"Do you think anyone who doesn't process emotions in the same way that others do, are automatically dangerous?"

"I guess not…"

The woman narrowed her eyes, "Just how much of humanity do you hope to control?"

Dillon did not have an answer for her. Throughout the rest of the day, Dillon thought about this. He thought about it as he unstrapped Timothy, he thought about it while he told Andy that he had to stay for one more day and watched how he sobbed, and he thought about it while he went home.

Am I doing the right thing?

It became a reoccurring thought. Still, Dillon came into work. He had assistants now. They helped him wrestle some of the patients down to their beds. Dr. Spiro didn't care if they drank on the job. Dillon found himself drinking with them. He found himself drinking a lot. Soon, he wasn't shaving as often, his hair hung down, continuously getting longer. He started to dress in jeans and t–shirts, ignoring the fact that they made him look ten years younger. Dr. Spiro didn't care as long as Dillon wore his white coat. Spiro often stressed that the white coats were their most essential tools. Dillon hadn't been on a date in months. George was amused. Dillon didn't care.

There were reports of cured patients experiencing paranoia and PTSD. They were given free therapy, which seemed to solve the problem in most people's eyes. Dillon had fallen into a stupor that seemed permanent, that was until he heard the name: Timothy Alexander. It was while he was getting ready for work. He had the news on even though he hadn't really been paying attention to it. He stood still and almost dropped his coffee cup as he saw Timothy on the screen. He was sitting with his hands folded and his head bowed.

A woman that Dillon recognized as Timothy's care partner was sitting beside him with her arm around his shoulders. She was staring the camera down. "They said that having a physical therapist that showed no emotion was just an accident waiting to happen, or some shit like that."

The interviewer looked slightly nervous, "Timothy, would you say that you feel very deeply for the patients that you care for?"

"Of course he does! Or he did before this treatment. Now he can't even leave his house," his partner said.

The interviewer, looking a bit disappointed, shoved her microphone closer to Timothy, but he looked up before she could ask him a question. "I know what it's like to be very scared, and in a lot of pain. I thought I already knew, but I was wrong. I don't think I can make anyone like that feel better. I don't know how. There might be someone that does. He should have my job."

Dillon did not go into work that day. "I'm going to quit," Dillon said with some determination when George came over to play Rummy.

George looked up from the cards, "I thought you were saving our country from crime."

"I thought I was too."

"What happened? Did someone finally have a heart attack?"

Dillon managed a smile, "No, but, I started thinking about sociopaths. Who are we to judge these people so harshly just because they don't filter through their emotions as quickly as others might? Why should we say that there's a right and wrong way to think of others?"

George started to shuffle the cards, but Dillon put his hand down on them. "I'm being serious."

George sighed and looked him in the eye, "I know you are, but I don't think your opinion is going to change anything. Your old pal, Dr. Spiro, was invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, and make 8079 an official law."

"Yes, yes I know," Dillon said.

"And they're already claiming that crime rates have dropped in every state that started Spiro's program, and they're making more torture asylums all over the country."

Dillon hung his head, "Well, at least I don't have to be a part of it for much longer, I'm putting in my two weeks' notice tomorrow.

Early that next morning, Dillon went into work and was looking through the mail as usual, when he happened upon a large, orange envelope. He tore it open and realized that there were numerous reports written by several different people. As he held the small stack in his arms and started reading the names, he gasped and dropped them, letting them scatter all over the floor.

Dr. Spiro strolled in and looked down at all the reports. "Hmm, are these all for the same person?" He picked one up and started to skim it, a small, cruel smile fluttered across his lips. "Don't you have a friend named George Walker?"

Dillon's mouth had gone dry. "Yes…" he said slowly. "But, um," he picked a few of the papers back up and began to skim the words, "There has to be some mistake."

Dr. Spiro stooped down and picked up one of the reports, "You think all of these people mistakenly documented examples of George's behavior?"

"No but," Dillon looked Dr. Spiro in the eye, "He's not that bad."

"Hmm, I see. It says here that he's the head psychologist at a drug rehabilitation center. An important job, wouldn't you say?" Dr. Spiro watched as Dillon shifted, and continued speaking. "It says here that on May 28th, 2019 he caught a rehab addict with a bag of heroin and dumped it in the cafeteria garbage, and then watched him shift through the trash to gather as much of the powder as he could."

Dillon looked away, "He was just trying to prove to the guy…"

"And I see that a few different people saw him stealing morphine from the main pharmacy."

Dillon shut his eyes tight, "He said he only did that once."

Dr. Spiro's smile slowly widened. "It seems that your good friend would benefit from a visit here. Can you think of anyone who would make a suitable care partner for him?"

Dillon, of course, could not. He also could not stand to warn George about his fate ahead of time. Officers came to George's house and hauled him off to Dr. Spiro's dungeon. George was angry and confused, but he received very little explanation. Within hours he was being led downstairs by an assistant to undergo his first treatment.

Dillon stood by the bed that George was assigned to. He had made several calls trying to find anyone else who could possibly be George's care partner. The buzzer went off, indicating that the main door was opening.

George stepped into view and pushed the assistant away from him. He then plopped himself on the bed and began to strap himself down. "Let's just get this over with."

Dillon took a deep breath. "Alright. I will be inserting an IV into your arm and I will put a helmet on your head. You will then lie down for fifteen to twenty minutes…""What's it depend on? How much you like me? How good I was today?" George snapped in a desperate, aggressive tone.

Dillon hung his head, "Look, George…"

"Or does it depend on how much of a sick fuck you can stand to be today?"

"I didn't do this," Dillon told him.

George laid back and stared at the ceiling.

Dillon continued his mantra, "Your heart rate and blood pressure will be closely monitored. After the procedure, you will sit still. The affects may last for another minute or two. If you need help calming down, you will be given 2mg of Valium intravenously."

"Then, what do I need you for?"

Dillon shut his eyes, "Please, George, don't make this worse."

"Don't worry," Dr. Spiro's slippery voice said from close behind Dillon, making him jump. "We will break him."

Dillon did not have to be told this. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't sneak up on me," he muttered.

George's first three treatments produced little reaction from George. Dillon tried without hope or result to get him released early. After the fourth treatment, George did not sit up right away. He reached for Dillon's hand, but said nothing.

When George came down for the fifth treatment, he sat on the bed, but he did not reach for the straps. He stared straight ahead, "Couldn't you just pretend to give me the treatment?" he whispered.

The IV kit nearly slipped out of Dillon's hand.

His silence enraged George. He made a quarter turn and locked his eyes on Dillon. "You're okay with this because you have reasons, right? Don't you think I had reasons? You might remember me telling you about Rosa."

"You were pretty nasty to her."

"Yeah. Did you know that she had children? I'll bet nobody did. I didn't tell anyone. And you probably know that not all of that morphine was for me."

Dillon narrowed his eyes. "Would that be the morphine that you only stole once?"

"You didn't believe me. Some of them weren't ready to quit, so they weren't going to no matter what."

"Being an enabler isn't exactly an excuse…"

George sat up straighter. "But being a torturer is? Chuck wanted to go to his grandkid's birthday party. Do you think he could have gone while he was having withdrawals? You may disagree with this, but I don't think anyone deserves that kind of humiliation."

Dillon shook his head, "Are you trying to pass yourself off as a misunderstood saint, or what exactly are you trying to tell me here?"

A look of hurt and surprise flashed across George's face for a second, then he scowled. "You were never like this. You may not remember the old you, but I do. You always saw the best in people, even if they didn't even try to. Even if they didn't want to."

Dillon found himself sinking into a chair that was meant for a care partner. "I can still do that…"

"If that's true, you're more messed up than I thought. Do you remember Timothy? I wonder who else does." George saw Dillon's face pale and smiled without warmth. "Yeah, I know about that."

"I was going to quit after that."

George glared. "I do remember you saying that."

George's skepticism hurt more than Dillon had expected. "I really was, I swear it."

"I guess you're saying that you stayed to help me."

Dillon covered his face, "I tried to change their minds, but there was just so much evidence." Dillon shook his head and threw his hands in the air, "Why didn't you ever explain yourself to your coworkers? You could have saved yourself a ton of trouble."

"There were plenty of things that didn't have an explanation. You're right, I'm not a misunderstood saint."

Dillon groaned, "George, I'm trying to get you an early release, and it's not going to be possible if you start being difficult."

George slumped slightly, then let his eyes wander away, "I do know right from wrong, and I know who I am."

Dillon uncovered his face, "I'm sorry."

George's eyes moistened the slightest bit, "Don't you ever," he muttered. "Not ever. Don't you ever apologize to me!"

Dillon flinched, "What do you mean?"

"You were a friend to me when no one else could stand me."

Dillon rested his elbows on his knees and bowed his head. "I'm still your friend." He reached for George's hand.

George let his fingers brush against Dillon's. Then, George jerked away and clenched his fists and tightened his jaw, "Are we going to get started?"

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