“If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.” THOMAS SZAS
BY ALEX P. VIDAL
Can a doctor be stricken with schizophrenia? Possible.
Can a doctor be a schizophrenic but refuses to acknowledge it or doesn’t know he is a patient? Possible.
And Doctor I.D. could be a case.
Never been a fan of spectator sports in his whole life, Doctor I.D. one afternoon found himself inside a wrestling arena gyrating and cheering his lungs out for Pera O. Bayong, a Filipino UFC heartthrob duking it out against a tough Nicaraguan hombre.
He didn’t know the Filipino jawbreaker from Adam he saw only for the first time; he had no idea how brutal the show was except that he was there after accepting the complimentary ticket handed him in the eleventh hour by his brother, the real fan, who could not make it that afternoon due to pressing commitments.
Pera O. Bayong, a young wrestler, became overnight sensation with a spectacular win against the matinee idol-looking icon from Managua.
Beguiled and mesmerized by Pera O. Bayong’s prowess and agility, Doctor I.D., a married man, felt he was at the right place at the right time.
And instant fan, Doctor I.D. had been transformed – a fan of the winner, not the bloody sport.
Doctor I.D. had been forced to shell out US$100 for a souvenir photo with the conqueror. The unauthorized loot went straight to the pocket of a hooligan acting as Pera O. Bayong’s bodyguard.
“I knew I was doing (paying for the photo-op) it wrong,” Doctor I.D. confessed to me during one of his “lowest” moments (every time he was feeling “low” he would start a conversation relating incidents in the past that would make his face squirm in regrets). “But I didn’t want that rare opportunity to slip away.”
Since then, Doctor I.D. never missed a single fight of Pera O. Bayong. He never missed dispensing dole outs in exchange for…
“But there was another guy who demanded from me $200 for a chance to get nearer Pera O. Bayong for a longer time,” Doctor I.D. sobbed. “Two individuals from Pera O. Bayong’s entourage have made me their favorite milking cow.”
Determined to stop acting like ATM machine for the extortionists, Doctor I.D. sought my help: “get me an I.D. – accreditation card – so that I can freely move around during Pera O. Bayong’s show and avoid those vultures and their minions.”
As soon as Doctor I.D. got his first I.D. and using it to buttress his physical proximity with Pera O. Bayong, mulcters have stopped pestering him.
But they and their subalterns also have stopped giving him attention thus even if he could penetrate Pera O. Bayong’s inner purlieus Doctor I.D. was relegated in the “among others” circle.
After a series of back-door schemes and spine-chilling maneuvers, Doctor I.D.’s hard work finally paid off. Pera O. Bayong could now recite his title but not his name.
“Dok,” Pera O. Bayong once addressed him in a crowd. “Hello, Dok.”
The greeting was music to Doctor I.D.’s ears. It was enough for the overjoyed fan to celebrate and callously wear his I.D. everywhere he went – believe it or not — inside the movie houses, church, plane, hospitals, shopping malls!
The peculiar mannerism has alarmed family members who suspect Doctor I.D. had become a fanatic.
“But even fanaticism has its limit,” quipped a teary eyed family member who strongly resented Doctor I.D.’s strange devotion to the plastic-encased card. “His actuations are really alarming.”
Doctor I.D. would rage enormously and spew out expletives like a politician denied of his “pork barrel” allocation if his attention was called over the disturbing actuations.
To him, wearing the I.D. most of the time was normal. Those who begrudge it are abnormal or “are not supporting me.”
According to my Facebook friend, Dr. Philip Quitco, a psychiatrist now assigned in Dipolog City in Mindanao, schizophrenia is a very common disorder affecting one person in 100 around the world.
Nobody has confirmed if Doctor I.D. is schizophrenic but the disease affects people from all walks of life and usually strikes young people (both men and women almost equally) between the ages of 15 and 30. Although an exact definition evades researchers, the evidence points more and more conclusively to a severe disturbance of the brain’s functioning.
It has however been described as a malfunctioning of the brain’s neurochemical, neuroelectrical and neuroanatomic circuits.
Symptoms of schizophrenia include disordered or jumbled thinking, false beliefs that cannot be shaken, hallucinations, social withdrawal, changes in emotions, loss of purpose, altered sense of self and depression.
Schizophrenia and depression are disorders that often manifest symptoms of psychosis.
Psychosis is described as being out of touch with reality, or totally involved in a reality that is entirely one’s own.
The burdens of mental illnesses, such as depression, alcohol dependence and schizophrenia, have been seriously underestimated by traditional approaches that take account only of deaths and not disability.
While psychiatric conditions are responsible for little more than one percent of deaths, they account for almost 11 percent of disease burden worldwide.
Most significant, studies show that the burden of psychiatric conditions has been heavily underestimated. Of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide in 1990, measured in years lived with a disability, five were psychiatric conditions.
Several years back, the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders has identified the Philippines as one of the areas where support groups would have to be established.
It didn’t say why, but apparently cases of depression-induced schizophrenia have become alarming even in a country notorious for joking about its problems.
And Doctor I.D.’s strange case is no joke.