The Human Guinea Pigs

My dad used us as guinea pigs, my brother and I.  He used a laboratory technique, maintaining one child as a control, and the other to experiment on.  But the fact is, he experimented on us both.

I remember my dad attempting to hypnotize us.  He sat my brother and I down at the kitchen table, spun a shiny object, and put my brother under.  Then he burnt him to prove (to himself, anyway) that he’d put the boy ‘under’ – holding a match he’d just put out against the tender skin below my brother’s elbow – and then he turned to me.

I think we were about 9 and 11, though I may be wrong.  It could have been 13 or 14.  That’s the way it is with traumatic memories – you forget a some details while others stand out.  I do remember (vaguely) what the room looked like, and it looked like the one we had at Fort Bragg.

On the other hand I could be wrong.  It may have been later, after we came home from  a long tour in Europe where I learned a lot of things.

But the thing is when I turned 14 my dad, courtesy of the G.I. Bill, started going to college.  He was studying for a Major in Psychology with a Minor in Sociology – not an uncommon combination.  And as part of his studies, he decided to involve me and my older brother.

The thing was, he was using us as guinea pigs; lab rats in an experiment.  He had me learn while my brother got no education at all.

I had to read the books, go over his notes, pay attention to the highlighted items.  And boy!  Would he highlight things!  Sometimes I would open a heavy psychology book to find page after page painted in yellow.  And I had to read every word.

The thing is: I didn’t mind, didn’t mind at all.  I knew my only defense against him was to use the knowledge he was teaching me against him – knowledge he inadvertently provided by making me the trained rat.

My brother, on the other hand, was left in ignorance.

For instance, during my reading I discovered a person couldn’t be hypnotized if they resisted – so I always resisted, or at least I think I did.  I did engage in experiments in self-hypnosis – early, at a young age (about 15) – teaching myself not to give into his experiments.

“Don’t let anyone mess with your mind!”, I remember him (or someone else) instructing me over and over again.  Perhaps this was part of my training while I was overseas; perhaps later.  Needless to say I was determined not to let him mess with my head.

The fact is – if he hypnotized me, I would never know.  I remember the feeling of despair I felt, reading about it in those manuals – how a hypnotic suggestion could be buried, unseen and unknown by the victim, set in there by the user – and a user he was.

He used us a lot of times; otherwise he generally ignored us, his two lab rats.  My brother grew increasingly violent, and I?  I became rebellious.

My brother was good for showing me how not to do things.  When he would get caught I would analyze his mistakes – and do the same thing, only sneakier, more covert.

As time went on and training progressed, I learned a lot.  Abnormal psychology rolled under my belt, along with childhood rearing.  Anthropology, human biology, characteristics of the mind.

As a result I became more rebellious – not openly, of course!  But in my mind I was determined: whatever the psych books said was the ‘right answer’ – I would give the opposite thing.  In my behavior, of course.  Just enough to fool him.

By the time I was 16, he was convinced I was insane.  Frustrated, he took it out on my brother, driving him to drink.

By the time my brother was 18, he was alcoholic.  I was into drugs.  Much easier to hide than some things, a bit more difficult than most.

I had started drinking, too, early on.  I remember sneaking Irish Mist into my coffee in my thermos, and drinking it at the bus stop while I waited for the bus to appear.  I was 15.

By the time I was 15, I was smoking joints.  That, I found, was much better – no hangover, and much easier to hide.

In the end my dad’s experiments ran out on him – quite literally!  He got his degree in college, and I got mine in life.  But that knowledge has always proved fruitful, those long hours spent poring over all those yellow painted pages, reading all those notes . . .

I won’t go into it much, but when I was 21 or so, I hit a pit of depression so deep, so large and wide that I thought I would never escape.  My DID system imploded, leaving ‘me’ – or the teenage version of me – high and dry.  It was a miserable time; so much so that my friends began to fear for my life.

And yet I went on – instinctively picking up pen and paper . . . and began journaling.  Some part of me knew enough to know: this was a form of therapy, one that could help me analyze my feelings and where they came from . . .

and that’s when I discovered: I had more than one in me.  That there was a little child, a teenager, a Soldier, and a Marine.  And more.  There was “The Beast” – an opened jawed vicious horror.  There were the landscapes in my mind – the Teen crawled across a desert and almost died . . .

and then a family found me.

I don’t know if all that psychology knowledge helped, but I feel it does.  It guided me for a long time.  It kept me on my toes against my dad.  And comparing my brother and I, I see . . . well, a lot.

Poor kid.  I wish he’d gotten the education.  His life would be happier I think.  He would not (as he does now) avoid his past.  He and I don’t speak about it, not much.  He’s been through 3 marriages and has no children.  He refused, convinced he would kill them.  He still has anger issues so bad . . . but has learned to handle them.  Poor boy: he’s got a good heart, but he, like me – well, his heart and mind got hurt a lot.

A lot of wrong done there.

Where to lay the blame?

Our life – without a doubt.

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About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3IVKK ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Boy-J-W/dp/1461022681). JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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