Nor Iron Bars a Cage....

       Randall Garrett / Science Fiction
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can trust him with it. Hewill never be able to take another drink.

”Smith is of that type. So, apparently, is Nestor. When we get throughwith Smith, he'll be sober, and he'll stay that way to his grave.”

* * * * *

”Astounding.” The Duke looked at me again. ”I can see the results, ofcourse. I'm going to see that some sort of similar program is startedin England, even if I have to stand up in the House of Lords to do it.But, I still don't understand how it can be done so rapidly--a matterof hours. What is the technique used?”

”It all depends on the therapist,” I said. ”Brownlee is one of thebest, but there are others who are almost as good. Some of theofficers have started calling them _hexperts_ because, in effect,that's exactly what they do--put a hex on the patient.”

”A _geas_, in other words.”

I'd never heard the word before. ”A what?”

”A _geas_. A magical spell that causes a person to do or to refrainfrom doing some act, whether he will or no. He has no choice, once the_geas_ has been put on him.”

”That's it exactly.”

”But, man, it isn't magic we're discussing, is it?”

”I don't know,” I admitted frankly. ”You tell me. Was it magic thismorning when both you and I had a hunch that little Shirley was _not_in the park, in spite of the way it looked? Was it magic when weeliminated, without even searching, every spot but the place where sheactually was?”

”Well, no, I shouldn't say so. I think every good policeman getshunches like that every so often. He gets a feel for his work and forthe types he's dealing with.”

”Well, then, call it hunch or telepathy or extra-sensory perception orthingummybob or whatever. Brownlee has just what you say a good copshould have--a feel for his work and for the types he's dealing with.Within a very short time, Dr. Brownlee can actually get the feel ofbeing inside his patient's mind--deep enough, at least, so that he canspot just what has to be done to put a compensating twist in a twistedmind.

”He says the genuine zanies are very simple to operate on. They havealready got the raw materials in them for him to work with. A normallysane, normally well integrated person would require almost as muchwork to put a permanent quirk in as removing such a quirk would be ina zany. The brainwashing techniques and hypnotism can introduce suchquirks temporarily, but as soon as a normally sane person regains hisbalance, the quirks tend to fade away.

”But a system that is off balance and unstable doesn't require muchwork to push it slightly in another direction. When Brownlee finds outwhat will do the job, he does it, and we have a tame zany on ourhands.”

”It sounds as though men of Brownlee's type are rather rare,” HisGrace said.

”They are. Rarer than psychiatrists as a whole. On the other hand,they can take care of a great many more cases.”

”One thing, though,” the Duke said thoughtfully. ”You mentioned theamputation of a pickpocket's hands. It seems to me that this techniqueis just as drastic, just as crippling to the person to whom it isdone.”

”Of course it is! No one has ever denied that. God help us if it's thefinal answer to the problem! A man who can't drive a car, or use arazor, or punch an enemy in the teeth when it's necessary is certainlyhandicapped. He's more crippled than he was before. The onlycompensation for society is that now he's less dangerous.

”There are certain compensations for the individual, too. He standsless chance of going to prison, or to a death cell. But he's stillhemmed in; he's not a free man. Of course, in most instances, he's notaware of what has been done to him; his mind compensates andrationalizes and gives him a reason for what he's undergoing. JoeyPartridge thinks his condition is due to the fractures he suffered thelast time he beat up a man; Manny the Moog thinks that he's afraid todrive a car because of the last wreck he was in. And, partly, maybethey're both right. But they have still been deprived of a part oftheir free will, their right of choice.

”Oh, no; this isn't the final answer by a long shot! It's a stopgap--a_necessary_ stopgap. But, by using it, we can learn more about how thehuman mind works, and maybe one of these days we'll evolve a scienceof the mind that can take those twists _out_ instead of compensatingfor them.



”On the other hand, we can save lives by using the technique we havenow. We don't dare _not_ use it.

”When they chopped off those hands, centuries ago, the stumps werecauterized by putting them in boiling oil. It looked like anotherinjury piled on top of the first, but the chirurgeons, not knowing_why_ it worked, still knew that a lot more ex-pickpockets livedthrough their ordeal if the boiling oil was used afterward.

”And that's what we're doing with this technique right here and now.We're using it because it saves lives, lives that may potentially oractually be a great deal more valuable than the warped personalitythat might have taken such a life.

”But the one thing that I am working for right now and will continueto work for is a _real_ cure, if that's possible. A real, genuine,usable kind of psychotherapy; one which is at least on a par with thescience of cake-baking when it comes to the percentages of successesand failures.”

* * * * *

His Grace thought that over for a minute. Then he leaned back andlooked at me through narrowed eyes. There was a half smile on his lips”Royall, old man, let's admit one thing, just between ourselves,” Hisvoice became very slow and very deliberate. ”Both you and I know thatthis process, whatever it is, is _not_ psychotherapy.”

”Why do you say that?” I wasn't trying to deny anything; I justwanted to know the reasoning behind his conclusions.

”Because I know what psychotherapy can and can't do. And I know thatpsychotherapy can _not_ do the sort of thing we've been discussing.

”It's as if you'd taken me out on a rifle range, to a target twothousand yards from the shooter and let me watch that marksman putfifty shots out of fifty into a six-inch bull's-eye. I might not knowwhat the shooter is using, but I would know beyond any shadow of doubtthat it was _not_ an ordinary revolver. More, I would know that itcould not be any possible improvement upon the revolver. It simplywould have to be an instrument of an entirely different order.

”If, in 1945, any intelligent military man had been told that theJapanese city of Hiroshima had been totally destroyed by a bomberdropping a single bomb, he would be certain that the bomb was a newand different kind from any ever known before. He would know that, mindyou, without necessarily knowing a great deal about chemistry.

”I don't need to know a devil of a lot about psychotherapy to knowthat the process you've been describing is as far beyond the limits ofpsychotherapy as the Hiroshima bomb was beyond the limits ofchemistry. Ditto for hypnosis and/or Pavlov's 'conditioned reflex', bythe way.

”Now, just to clear the air, what _is_ it?”

”It has no official name yet,” I told him. ”To keep within the law, wehave been calling it psychotherapy. If we called it something else,and admitted that it _isn't_ psychotherapy, the courts couldn't turnthe zanies over to us. But you're right--it is as impossible toproduce the effect by psychotherapy as it is to produce an atomicexplosion by a chemical reaction.

”I've got a hunch that, just as chemistry and nucleonics are bothreally branches of physics, so psychotherapy and Brownlee's processare branches of some higher, more inclusive science--but that doesn'thave a name, either.”

”That's as may be,” the Duke said, ”but I'm happy to know that you'renot deluding yourself that it's any kind of psychotherapy.”

”You know,” I said, ”I kind of like your word _geas_. Because that'sexactly what it seems to be--a _geas_. A hex, an enchantment, if youwish.

”Did you know that Brownlee was an anthropologist before he turned topsychology? He has some very interesting stories to tell about hexesand so on.”

”I'll have to hear them one day.” His Grace took a pack of cigarettesfrom his pocket. ”Cigarette?”

”No, thanks. I gave up smoking a few years back.”

* * * * *

He puffed his alight. ”This _geas_,” he said, ”reminds me of the factthat, before the medical profession came up with antibiotics thatwould destroy the microorganisms that cause gas gangrene, amputationwas the only method of preventing the death of the patient. It wascrippling, but necessary.”

”_No!_” My voice must have been a little too sharp, because he raisedone eyebrow. ”The analogy,” I went on in a quieter tone, ”isn't goodbecause it gives a distorted picture. Look, Your Grace, you knowwhat's done to keep a
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