Inferiority Complex

Author : Bob Newbell

“I'm glad to hear the medication I added at our last visit didn't cause any side effects,” said the psychiatrist to his patient. “And I see you've had two sessions of psychodrama therapy. How did that go?”

“I think that really helped,” said the patient. “I acted out Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the Moon.”

“And how did doing that make you feel?” asked the doctor.

“It made me feel proud to be a human being. It was something we accomplished,” said the patient. He shifted his gaze from the physician to the floor. “I mean, it took us a really long time to do that, of course.”

“The time it took is immaterial,” replied the doctor. “Your psychodrama wasn't just therapy. It was an homage to the tenacity and ingenuity of your people.”

“How long did it take you to do it?” the man asked, looking again at the doctor. “Your people, I mean. It took us close to 10,000 years to go from the beginnings of agriculture to the beginnings of space travel. How about you?”

“Well,” the physician replied, looking somewhat uncomfortable, “my people took about 1000 of your years to achieve the same result.”

“Because you're smarter than we are. Because Newton and Einstein and Hawking were mentally handicapped by your standards, right?” The man was getting progressively more agitated as he spoke.

“Well, Mr. Johnson,” replied the psychiatrist, “intelligence is an awfully slippery concept. IQ tests are infamously susceptible to cultural biases. And there are many different varieties of intelligence which can make it difficult to disentangle–”

“You're polite about it,” the patient interjected. “All of your people are. Not like some of the other aliens.”

“Polite about what, Mr. Johnson?”

“The fact that humans are the dimwits of the galaxy. Eight intelligent species in the Milky Way and humanity is a distant eighth in brainpower. Compared with the rest of you lot, Socrates was a scatterbrain and Shakespeare was a hack writer. At least you don't look down your noses at us like some of the others.”

As the doctor had no nose he assumed from the context that his patient's phrase was a reference to condescension. The psychiatrist tapped away on his data pad.

“Mr. Johnson, why don't we try another round of psychodrama therapy and schedule a follow up in three weeks?”

After the patient left his office, the doctor tapped his data pad again to activate its voice recorder.

“Addendum to today's encounter note. Mr. Johnson continues to have exacerbations of Alien Contact Inferiority Syndrome. Psychodrama treatments appear to be helping and the patient does possess insight into the regrettably pronounced cognitive deficits of his species. No change in medications. Will continue current management and follow up in the office in three weeks. As with all ACIS patients, Mr. Johnson is advised to minimize contact with extraterrestrials and to contact emergency medical services at once in the event of any suicidal ideation.”

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