New Mental Disorder: "California Drought Syndrome"

Funny story written by Keith Shirey

Friday, 15 May 2015

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American Psychoanalysis Online
Spring, 2015

by Giacomo Puccini, Contributing Editor

Last week, for the first time in the state's history, Golden State's Gov. Jerry Brown imposed mandatory water restrictions, requiring all cities and towns to cut their water usage by 25 percent.

The action was taken because California's reservoirs have about a year's worth of water left. Too, Groundwater levels, seen as a "savings account" that the state can draw from in dry times, are at an all-time low.

But restrictive solutions to California's plight do not affect California's upper crust 1%. For example, in Montecito, a tony city just southeast of Santa Barbara, famous for Oprah Winfrey's mansioning there, residents simply obey water cut back rules, but truck in hundreds of thousands of gallons of water weekly for their vast estates. In other areas, such as Beverly Hills and other desirable zip codes wealthy people simply pay the heavy fines for water guzzling.

But some California women - who tend to be educated in the Liberal Arts in colleges like U.C. Berkeley - are flocking to California psychologists because of their reaction to the drought.

"They have a malady that we are calling "California Drought Syndrome," said Inland Empire psychotherapist Dr. Blanche Du Bois. I have three patients who suffer from traumatic episodes just when hearing their neighbor's sprinklers go on in early mornings, even though it is only twice a week.

Dr. DuBois would not exactly specify what treatment she used for these patients but described it as being "innovative, bizarre, involving water and associated with the CIA." Dr. DuBois said, "I've had good success with it and will share my techniques it soon with my colleagues in the Journal of National Security State Psychiatry.

Nationally known Dr. Geoffrey Chaucer of Pasadena, was willing to be more specific about treating California Drought Syndrome.

"I have one patient who cannot turn on the faucet to take a shower or even fill a glass with water who suffers terribly. She was really smelly when she first came to me for treatment. However, I have made great progress with her and I no longer have to splash her with Farina Eau de Cologne when she comes into my office."

Dr. Chaucer explained that, like many of his patients, her Mother weaned her too early from breast-feeding. "So, because she did not get her basic needs met early in life, she feels guilty when they are met as an adult - in her case just quenching her thirst or staying clean induces trauma."

""I have combined in vivo desensitization and positive reinforcement techniques to cure her. This simply means that as she repetitively repeats the guilt-inducing act of faucet turning in my office bathroom she has a diminished emotional responsiveness to the negative spigot stimulus. And after often repeating the act she is on the road to recovery," said Chaucer.

"The positive reinforcement aspect is giving her a comfort food that evokes a pleasurable sentimental response after she has turned the water on. In American culture that involves high dosages of sucrose. So I give her a big milkshake or a large piece of dark chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce when she turns on the faucet," stated Dr. Chaucer.

I met with psychoanalyst Chaucer at Pasadena's Valley Hunt Club, a favorite noontime watering hole and hide-away for successful area professionals. After he imbibed several martini's Dr. Chaucer became quite talkative about the subject of treating patients with California Drought syndrome.

"I can help them with their disorder by employing the two techniques I've described to you," he told me. "But I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I want to stop their trauma about contributing to the drought and, therefore, treat them effectively. But on the other hand, if I succeed in treating them, when they turn on the faucet they use up scarce water, I'm just contributing to California's water shortage. I just don't know what to do!" exclaimed Dr. Chaucer.

Finally, he said, "Many parts of the country will be drought-ridden like California in the future, and we'll see a new category in the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, in say 2017. It will be termed "National Water Guilt Syndrome," or something like that. Obviously, a big part of the solution will be for the psychological community to encourage every American Mother to wean their infants early," stated the eminent Pasadena psychoanalyst.

The funny story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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