A New Wonder Drug for a Brave New World

The drug company knew about the undesirable side-effects but believed psychiatrists would prescribe the drug anyway, at least to those psychiatric clients who regularly made trouble. Enter Jonathan Baxter, who had gone off his medications several times and had been written up in his medical records as being uncooperative and argumentative.

Science fiction by Jack Bragen

Experts had invented yet another new medication, and they predicted that this could be “the medication of medications” — something that would make psychiatric patients 100 percent manageable. They dubbed it the U Drug.

Its chemical name was so long as to be nearly unpronounceable, and they had not yet arrived at a good commercial name suitable for such a spectacular drug.

The U Drug still needed to be tested. Yet it proved to be next to impossible to find volunteers who would willingly allow themselves to be tested on this drug. It had a particular side-effect that was so undesirable that no one would voluntarily take the U Drug.

The company knew about this side-effect but believed psychiatrists would prescribe it anyway, at least to those psychiatric clients who regularly made trouble.

Enter Jonathan Baxter, a 25-year-old man who was assigned to the study. Baxter had gone off his medications several times and had been written up in his medical records as being uncooperative, “intolerable” and argumentative.

Mental health workers had grown tired of arguing with him. So they put Baxter on the U Drug. And they somehow failed to inform Baxter of this fact.

One morning, as Jonathan was eating breakfast, his mother Dorothy sat across from him, and he saw the look on her face.

“Johnny!” cried his mother. “Oh no! Oh God, no! Something is wrong!”

Jonathan replied, “Don’t worry about it, mom, everything’s fine.” He was unperturbed.

Jonathan’s mother said, “No! Something is very wrong with you. Go in the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror!”

At that point, Baxter obediently stood up from his chair and walked into the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror and realized that he was badly disfigured. His facial disfigurement was nearly indescribable, and it was clear why his mother had become so distressed.

“Don’t worry about it, mom,” he said through the open door of the bathroom.

He wasn’t upset at all, even though obviously something horrible was happening to him.

The new psychiatric drug would alter the human mind and enable patients to be controlled. Art by MIRKO

The new psychiatric drug would alter the human mind and enable patients to be controlled. Art by MIRKO

 

 

“Son, why aren’t you upset?”

“I don’t know why, mom, I’m just not.” He paused. “Why am I not upset?” he wondered.

In the three weeks prior to this incident, Jonathan’s argumentativeness had evaporated, and his mother as well as his counselors were impressed by the progress he was making.

“I’m calling the hospital,” said Jonathan’s mother.

“Don’t bother,” said the young, disfigured man. “I’m okay with it,” he said.

A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.