I have seen a few cases in my life. The work of a psychiatrist is quite surprising from time to time. I’ve had patients who thought they were possessed by the devil or thought they were being haunted, patients who believed they were constantly being followed or even patients who believed they came from another planet. I was able to cure most of them the answer being something as simple as confronting one’s fears. But Lidia…she was…something else.
Lidia was a 30 year old woman who was suffering of insomnia or rather somniphobia, the fear of sleeping. She had had such gruesome nightmares lately that she no longer wished to fall asleep. She had the feeling that she was evil, that she was a bad person and that she needed to suffer. She felt she did not deserve a peaceful sleep because of the things she had done. When I asked her what exactly she had done to deserve such punishment, she couldn’t tell me.
I suggested a few session of hypnosis to break through the wall she had built around her. I believed she had suppressed her traumatic memories. Only by facing the past could we discover the present.
The first few sessions of hypnosis were successful. I asked her to go into the past to any memories she found frightening or threatening. We passed through her relationship with her parents, her resentment towards her sister and the car accident she had when she was four years old.
The last session took place a few days before Easter. That’s when things took a different turn.
She had barely closed her eyes when she started screaming: ‘Blood! Gushing blood and frightening eyes!’ She had never mentioned this before. ‘Blood! So much blood!’ She kept on going.
‘What happened before the blood?’ I asked trying to find out more. ‘What happened before?’
‘So much blood! I don’t…I can’t…I’
She opened her eyes as if she had awoken from a dream. She was no longer crying or screaming. I wasn’t sure what was happening. Did she break the hypnosis? No patient of mine ever did that.
She slowly sat on the couch and watched me.
‘Good morning doctor,’ she said with a sudden accent. ‘She is quite distressed but it is not her fault.’
‘Lidia, the girl.’
‘And to whom am I speaking now?’ Was this another case of schizophrenia?
She smiled. ‘Doctor Wehrle?’ she said. ‘Any family from Germany?’ She asked after she looked at my watch.
‘We are not here to talk about me,’ I stated. My patients usually tried drawing the attention away from them. ‘What is happening to Lidia?’
She sighed wearily. ‘Lidia is experiencing memories from her past life. I am the source of her problems. She is dreaming of my memories. They can be quite frightening though she doesn’t understand. You should tell her that, doctor Wehrle. She doesn’t understand.’
‘That she is interpreting those memories all wrong. I had my reasons behind them all. I wasn’t like the rest.’
‘I am afraid this session is too short for that and your world is too narrowed to fully understand. Your people live in guilt. They feel the need to be punished yet they can’t remember why. They live in fear and can’t explain what is frightening them. All she needs to know is that she should not be afraid. Those were my sins not hers.’
‘Sins?’ I repeated. The coolness in her voice, the accent and her mature behaviour somewhat disturbed me. Most of my patients while thinking they were someone else always tried to shock or terrify me in some way.
‘Sins of my own hunger, doctor Wehrle. But now I live within Lidia. The hunger is over. I am at peace and so should she.’
‘You are living within Lidia?’
‘It is too complicated to explain to your kind.’
‘Are you going to repeat everything I say, doctor?’
I smiled though I must admit I was a bit embarrassed.
‘I will ask just one more question. How can we cure Lidia?’ I asked.
‘She must let it go. My sins are not hers to bear. She must understand that things were not as she believes they were. You must tell her that, doctor.’
I looked at my watch and realized I should end the hypnosis within moments.
‘Konrad Wehrle was his name,’ she said. ‘He was such a lovely man. Are you familiar with your German ancestors?’
I did not react. She was trying to distract me again.
‘Should you ever find yourself in Furtwangen ask for his son’s house, Emilian Wehrle. He was a famous clockmaker. When you arrive at the house you must see the cuckoo clock.’
‘Has Lidia been there?’ I asked not quite following her intention.
‘You inherited that watch on your wrist, have you not?’
‘I don’t understand. Did you know my ancestors? Is that what you are trying to tell me?’
‘I did. I knew them.’
‘And this has to do with Lidia’s nightmares?’
She laughed heartily. ‘No, of course not! I just knew them back then.’
‘Back then? You are the ghost of a woman who lived at that time?’
‘Doctor Wehrle, I am not a ghost or some girl’s imagination. I am pure soul living within her. And now I apologize but I must go.’
She closed her eyes for a brief moment then opened them again. Lidia stared at me for a moment then started crying. I understood that the hypnosis had been broken. I gave her a moment to calm down then I told her what she had told me during the session. I told her to let go, these were not her sins and she had to let go. Somehow it calmed her down as if it all made sense.
It was the last session I had with Lidia. It was the last time I ever saw her. But something told me she was cured. As for me, I paid a visit to Germany and found Emilian Wehrle’s house. I found the cuckoo clock and it was quite superb. On one side, carved in its wooden skin I found an inscription:
‘Wir tragen die Erinnerungen der Unsterblichen,das ist das einzige was uns am leben haellt.’
Emilian Wehrle, 1851
I spoke German and I knew that the translation meant something like this:
‘We carry the memories of the immortal ones for that is the only thing that keeps us alive.’