Chapter 5:

I can't keep up (b). [Do-Over]

Light of my darkest eve


“I’m trainin’ to be a psychologist. Y’know, like a shrink, but I get to be called doctor.”

“I-I see.” I must not have hidden my surprise, because she gives a theatrical eyeroll.

“Come on, out with it. I won’t be offended.”

“...why would someone without empathy want to become a psychologist.”

God, it feels so insulting to ask a question like that. ‘Why aren’t you letting a disorder that’s completely out of your control prevent you from pursuing the career you want?’ But even so, it makes little sense.

“I get that a lot. But it makes sense if you know me.”

“Hm? Whaddyou mean by that?”

“Well, the thing I find most interesting is all the little ways a person’s brain can be broken, and the ways they can be put back together.” She’s still holding that same uncanny smile, which makes her words all the more unsettling. “What better way to learn more about that than by working with some of society’s most broken people.”

“But… do you actually want to help them?”

Hanji takes a second to think on the question. Or, at least, she acts like she does. Something tells me she already has an answer and is just delaying to make it seem like it’s complicated.

“I guess I kinda see it as a trade, in a way.”

“A trade?”

“Yeah! I get to pick their brains, and they get help with their problems. Win-win, right?”

I can’t help but think her outlook on this is strange. Most people in the medical field talk about noble aspirations, like saving lives or improving people’s standard of living. To treat something as personal as someone’s mental health like it’s a business transaction… I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t raise some ethical concerns.

“You’re thinking that I’m too dangerous to work with mental illness, ain’t ya?”

“I-I’m… really sorry.”

For a second I try to deny it, but I realise she’s not exactly wrong. The first thing that crossed my mind was that her patients could be at risk.

“You don’t gotta be sorry. It’s understandable, you probably wouldn’t wanna be assigned to someone like me for your PTSD treatment or whatever, would you?”

“...no, I suppose I wouldn’t.”

“That ain’t your fault. Folk like me will never be able to understand you on a personal level, after all.”

“So… if you think that, why do you still want to be a psychologist?”

She puts her hands behind her back and leans forward, almost acting playful.

“Well, sometimes you need an unemotional point of view, y’know?”

“I’m… not sure I follow.”

“Let me put it this way, you ever felt like your doctor or shrink tries to sugarcoat shit to make you feel better?”

“All the time, yeah.”

“And does it actually make you feel better?”

“...not really.”

“And that’s my point! I don’t worry about ethics and stuff, so I don’t have to do all this pussyfooting around. I’d just hear you out, give you my unfiltered thoughts and advice, and send you on your way.”

“I… see.”

While I’m still hesitant to say the idea of a person without empathy being a psychologist sits right with me, I can’t say I don’t see where she’s coming from. After months of rehabilitative psychology and psychiatry, the beating around the bush and sidestepping gets incredibly frustrating.

Still, she seems to see others more like trophies or objects than real people. Can someone like that really work with the mentally ill? Perhaps it’s just my own prejudice, but a person with no actual care for their patients (except a childlike curiosity) working with some of the most psychologically vulnerable types of people? That doesn’t sound safe to me.

Before I have time to stew on it anymore, however, Hanji once again grabs me and begins dragging me to our next destination.