Friday: Therapy Session II
Note: This short story was inspired by a particular petpet, can you figure out which one before you finish the tale?
After reading the Neopian Times and seeing the rave reviews about Neopia’s famed Psychologist who could explore anyone’s underlying behavioural and socioemotional problems about themselves, The Neo-citizen took it on himself to see him.
Initially, The Neo-citizen never believed in psychology - to him it was just another money-grabbing scheme, but after reading the reviews and seeing a familiar tyrant, who was known in Neopia Central for raining on people’s day, profusely apologizing and trying his best to rectify all the wrong he had done in the past, he figured he’d try it out.
The reason being was because The Neo-citizen desperately needed a good night’s rest. Due to his lack of sleep, his quality of work had declined and his employer was getting fed up.
In his mind, he saw tiny satellites of his employer’s head orbiting around him, collectively scolding, ‘The next time I catch you falling asleep on the job, you’ll be waiting in line at the Faerieland Employment Centre!’
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a quick fix as his petpet was the cause for his current predicament. In fact, The Neo-citizen had asked all his Neofriends if they were able to care for his petpet for a few days, but some of them complained that they were allergic to her, others mentioned that they didn’t have the time to care for such a high maintenance petpet, some of them said that they didn’t want to be responsible for such a rare and expensive petpet, while others bluntly said that it was just a pain in the neck.
Finally he decided to do something about his problem. Either get to the brute of the problem or get rid of the petpet entirely. Choosing the former was the reason why he was laying on the Psychologist’s red lounge chair.
With a steaming cup of Black Cherry Tea wafting throughout the claustrophobic office, he heard The Psychologist say, “What seems to be the problem?”
Staring at the pile high stacks of books that lay in a disarray on the parquet floor, The Neo-citizen started the conversation with, “When I first attached my petpet to myself a year ago, I was thrilled. After all, she’s one of the most sought after petpets in all of Neopia and I was fortunate enough to restock her at Neopia’s Petpet Shop instead of paying the astronomical prices on the Trade Post!”
“For that reason, I believe my utmost responsibility in ensuring we have a solid, strong attachment is through prioritizing her needs before mine. Now my Neofriends are annoyed with me and I’m hanging by a thread at work. I know that she’s the main reason why I’m in this predicament, but she has become such a huge part of my life that I cannot live without her - she even sleeps in the bed with me!”
The Psychologist scribbled some notes on his trusty notebook before he asked, “And how is your sleep?”
He simply shrugged his shoulder and replied, “It’s alright?”
The Psychologist released a sigh and grabbed a tissue from the confines of his jacket pocket. “I’ve been in my field of work for a very long time and one of the reasons why my expertise is in such high demand is because of my keen deductive skills,” he said while wiping dust off his thick rimmed glasses. “Since I’ve dealt with this type of petpet before, I’m going to repeat that question again and hopefully you’ll answer honestly, okay?”
The Neo-citizen blushed in embarrassment at the lie he was caught in and nodded his head in agreement.
Placing his glasses back in place, The Psychologist repeated his question, “How has your sleep been?”
Releasing a heavy sigh, he revealed, “I haven’t had a good night’s rest in the past year.”
“A good night’s rest plays a vital role in our health. Studies have shown that deep sleep triggers a release of hormones that helps promote healthy brain function, which leads to improved mental and physical health. This is especially true for you as sleep deficiency damages the brain and subsequently changes the way you think and behave.”
“I’ve tried to wean her off of me at night, but she constantly wails unless I turn the lights on,” The Neo-citizen responded while thinking of all the havoc and sacrifices he had to make in order to make his petpet happy. With his eyes focusing on the Psychologist, The Neo-citizen pleaded, “I was hoping that you’d be able to figure out what’s wrong with her? Right now, the only thing that seems to please her is food. All kinds of food!”
The Psychologist responded with, “We all need it to survive.”
“No, I mean lots of food that ranges from something as inexpensive as a Pumpkin Pie, which I don’t mind giving to her, towards a Chokato Toffee Apple that I cannot even find in the marketplace or trading post!“
Ignoring the Psychologist who was about to speak, The Neo-citizen continued on with his rant. “Did you know I had to buy her a Blue Draik Egg once? She did not stop screeching until I did! That cost me a leg and an arm too! My finances have dwindled down now. I was hoping to upgrade my NeoHome last summer, but I’ve used all that was left in my meager bank account to see you. This is my only chance!”
Placing his writing utensil on his lap, The Psychologist said, “Not every petpet in Neopia is so high maintenance, yet you’ve stuck with this particular species for nearly a year. How come?”
“Because I love her.”
The Psychologist immediately stopped writing and stared at The Neo-citizen. The office was so quiet that he could hear his assistant informing the caller about his six-month waitlist.
The Psychologist set his notebook aside and leaned towards The Neo-citizen with his thumbs on his chin, both elbows resting on his knees. His favourite method of therapy was via self-epiphany whereby the client is able to figure out their own path without him actually telling them. However, he had a feeling this Neo-citizen wouldn’t take that too kindly.
He could sense that The Neo-citizen wanted him to euphemize the solution, perhaps laugh it off as his employer was being unreasonable, but with his waitlist growing with each passing day, he tossed his typical method of approach out the window. Seeing the Neo-citizen stare at him with hopeful eyes, The Psychologist deduced that what he needed was the cold harsh truth.
“Your petpet is one of the most prized species in all of Neopia. Unfortunately, your selflessness for her has become your downfall to the point where your sleeping patterns and spending habits are sacrificed. You mentioned how you prioritize her before you?”
The Neo-citizen concurred and nodded his head.
“I’ve been doing research on this particular species,” at which The Psychologist gestured towards his extremely rare and valuable Caring for Your Neopet book collection, “and I theorize that this particular species is innately predisposed to have SAD, also known as Separation Anxiety Disorder.”
The Neo-citizen’s jaw dropped. “What?!”
“Separation Anxiety Disorder is excessive anxiety concerning separation by a primary caregiver. Depending on the bond between the two, the more dependent the petpet is to a major attachment figure, the more likely it’ll exhibit behavioural issues when separated, like sadness, withdrawal, and overeating. In this case, this is especially true for you because you’re so attuned to her needs that she expects to be there, even more so during the night when the lights go out because she believes you are separated from her.”
The Neo-citizen outright shook his head in outrage. “But I’m in the room! Sometimes I’m even touching her to reaffirm my proximity!”
“Her pattern of thinking is called the perceptual cognitive process. Because your petpet cannot perceive you in the dark she believes you are no longer present in the room, even though you are mere inches from her. This may mean that your presence, whether it is your figure in the dark can come forth as a scary creature hiding in the shadows, your foot steps can be perceived as a monster creeping around the room, and even your touch is completely foreign to her.”
The Psychologist continued to elaborate, “Perceptual thinking stems from the word perception, and it is how we use our senses, whether it is our taste, hearing, vision, smell, or even touch to understand our world. This means whatever we physically sense is then internalized into our working knowledge of the world.”
The Neo-citizen took a quick glance at the clock and said, “So then she’s stuck at the perceptual cognitive process? Is it possible to transition to a higher form of thinking?
The Psychologist followed his line of sight and deduced their session would be ending soon. “Yes and no. Unlike your petpet, we are capable of higher forms of thinking. This begins in infancy when we are primarily guided by perception and senses - this is why babies are so orally-fixated by concrete, tangible items like a baby bottle or toy, not only because they find it enjoyable, but it’s their only developed outlet to understand how an object is different from another.”
“However, as we age we are capable of conceptual cognitive processes which are new concepts and abstract ideas that sometimes cannot be learned via perceptions. For example, I just taught you a very abstract theory of perceptual and conceptual cognitive processes. Unfortunately, simple-minded species, like petpets, cannot understand it, hence the reason why we’re the superior race.
Releasing a sigh of exasperation, The Neo-citizen asked, “Does this mean I’ll never get a good night’s rest again in my life?”
The Psychologist merely chuckled. “You have two options. One, you and your petpet can come to me every week for the next six months until we are able to resolve this issue.”
Cringing at the astronomical bill, The Neo-citizen tried to calculate how much time he had before he’d have to visit the Soup Faerie on a regular basis. Realizing that option one was out of the question, he squeaked out, “And the second option?”
The Psychologist merely chucked. “Get a nightlight for your Kadoatie.”
Kadoatie Trivia: Kadoatie is what we like to call a pain in the neck. When it is bedtime and the lights go out, the Kadoatie cries continuously until you turn them back on. I hope you like to sleep with the lights on.