Short Stories: The sheer stupidity of some scientific research study programs

spiritedStarred Page By spirited, 27th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
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This short story is about how a young boy called Geoff feared his father so much, that it led him to making an attempt at suicide.

Unfortunately, for Geoff though, he never could overcome these fears, so instilled into him, so early on in his life, and even until today, he still suffers from a very deep, and darkly black, morbidly depressing, depression.

Geoff's boyhood fears of his father stemmed mainly from the one incident

Geoff was a spindly legged lightly built boy, who had a few early health problems in his life. He had bad eczema, asthma, and epilepsy. From time to time he would get bronchitis too.

Geoff's bedroom was situated right next to his parent's one. Some nights he would cough and splutter nearly all night, in his trying to cough up the thick phlegm that was congesting his chest so severely, and almost choking him too.

His father, being a working man, put up with this night, after night, after night, until one night came, where he finally reached his breaking point.

It was a bitterly cold night in Winter.

Geoff's father got out of his warm bed, and he went into the bathroom, and in there he opened the medicine cupboard there. He took down the jar of Vick's vapour-rub there, and then with the jar in his hand, he stormed into his young son's room.

He opened the jar, and with his finger, he then removed a large glob of it.

With his other hand, he forced open the small mouth of his poor child, and he stuck the Vick's down his young son's throat, just as far as he could reach too, and this was to Geoff's tonsils, which he coated with the Vicks, very thoroughly.

Then he yelled at Geoff, "This should keep you quiet then, you young rascal, you!"

With that, he returned to his own bed.

Geoff's tonsils stung terribly. He wanted to scream, but he knew that if he made any further noise, he probably would be belted hard next time, with his father's leather belt. That would hurt him more than the hurt that he was experiencing right now.

Geoff crawled far under the blankets, right down to the end of his bed. There he sobbed himself to sleep, making as little further noise as he could.

From this one episode, Geoff became very, very fearful of the hot and explosive temper of his Dad after that. Geoff was only four years old at that time.

Geoff's fear of his father had only increased more by the time that he was a teenager

Fast forward now another ten years in Geoff's life.

Geoff is now fourteen years old. He has been diagnosed with clinical depression now. He never seemed to smile, or laugh, or to ever be happy. He never played any sports. All that he ever did was read his comic books.

His favourite hero was the Phantom, and next, not far behind him, came superman.

Geoff's doctor had talked to Geoff's parents about a radical new treatment for depression, called, "Brain Retraining".

This technique was supposed to be able to "re-wire" somebody's brain, and to change them from being depressed and negative, to being loving and happy instead. If only it really was all that easy!

Computers were relatively new around this time, and to take part in this program, Geoff's parents had to take him every single day to the University, about ten miles distance from their house to have the treatment. This was to go on for a period of eight to ten weeks. At least there was no charge for the treatment. It was still in its trial period.

When Geoff got to the University for the first session, they sat him in front of a large computer screen that, to him, looked a bit like his old black and white television set at home.

Geoff was simply told to look at all of the different faces of people on the screen. There were about twenty or more faces on one screen. Only one of these was a smiling face. The rest were either frowns, grimaces, or angry, hostile expressions.

The whole idea was for Geoff to locate the one smiling face, just as quickly as he could do so.

Geoff soon got the hang of this. After he had picked the right face on one screen, another screen would then move in, in its place, with another such set of faces, and where the smiling happy face would be situated somewhere else on the screen then.

This exercise went on for twenty minutes. This same exercise was then repeated every day for the next ten weeks.

After the first session, the amount of time that Geoff took to find the first happy face was recorded. This also was done for each and every subsequent screen-full of faces.

Every day, for every week, for ten weeks, this procedure was repeated.

At the end of the ten weeks, Geoff's time in finding the happy faces had improved remarkably. He was more than five times faster now at finding the happy face.

The researchers told his parents that the experiment had been a success.

Geoff's depression would now have been relieved, and he will be a lot happier person within himself from now on, they had told the happy parents.

"You will notice a marked improvement in him, and in fact you probably have done so already," the lady in the white coat went on.

Actually Geoff himself had not noticed any difference in himself at all. His father was still his father. He still feared, and hated him.

He thought that these researchers were just plain idiots.

"Any idiot could see," he had thought to himself, "that after practising such an exercise for any extended period of time like this, you would obviously get better at finding what you were meant to be finding. If it had been a picture of a dog that he was meant to find, he would now be finding its picture much faster now too", he thought.

Geoff was in fact still very much depressed, even more so than before, but now perhaps he was just perhaps just a little bit better at hiding it.

Geoff's week-end at home alone with his Dad

A few weeks later, Geoff's mother and younger sister drove into the country to visit her mother. She left Geoff home alone with his father. Geoff dreaded this. He hated being alone with his old man.

On Sunday morning, Geoff's father walked himself around to the local church for their service.

Geoff had pretended to be still asleep in his bed, and this one time his Dad had left him there. This time, he did not go in, and drag Geoff out by his ear, as he normally was want to do.

"Perhaps he was being more lenient with his wife being away and all that," Geoff thought to himself, in his bed.

For some inexplicable reason though, Geoff had then gotten it into his little head, that his father would probably belt him really hard, when he returned from the church, and that perhaps he just didn't want to be late for the service before.

Geoff didn't want to spend any more time at all with his Dad alone. He got out of his bed. He walked into the kitchen. He took out a knife from the drawer. He poked it into the wall socket of an electricity point there.

Suddenly there was a loud bang.

Geoff received an electric shock, and he was knocked unconscious onto the floor. He was lucky that the power point had exploded like this in one way, but he later learned that it was because the fuse wire in the meter box had broken.

Geoff lay unconscious there for a long time, but eventually he came around, and he sat up. He could see that the knife had had its end burnt off, and all around the power point was singed with a black soot. There was no electricity working in the house at all now.

Geoff tried one light switch after another. He was feeling absolutely terrified in one way. It hadn't worked. He was still alive. But never mind that, his father would be sure to kill him when he got home from church and discovered what he had done.

Geoff never had the guts to try this again (that is before his father arrived home).

In his own mind, he now knew that this was really just his way that he was trying to get through to his father, and to be loved by him, even if it was caused only by his own death.

Geoff was really a very perceptive and bright young lad.

Suddenly, Geoff heard the key of his father opening up the front door. He was home. Geoff's father walked straight into the kitchen. Maybe, he could smell the scent of the smoke, in the house.

He walked over to the wall, like a sniffer dog would do also.

With a clenched fist, and a raised voice, he yelled at Geoff, "What the hell happened here," he said, using a few of his favourite cuss words here too, and right after just having coming home from the house of the Lord too, as well.

Geoff was already crying, as he said to his Dad, "I tried to commit suicide Dad. It didn't quite work."

Geoff's father whole demeanour changed in an instant. A tear also came to his tough, hardened face, which probably had never felt a tear running down it ever before.

"Come here", he said.

And he then gave Geoff one big almighty wonderfully long hug.

Geoff's father then fixed the fuse, and changed the power point, and he threw the damaged knife into the trash-can.

This was their secret. Neither Geoff, nor his father ever told his mother, brothers, or sisters about this.

Funnily enough, his two brothers who would normally have been in the house too, were away on school camps, for that week-end, in late June.

Sadly though, this was the only hug that Geoff would ever experience from his father, until he died another fifty long years later after that.

When his old father was lying on the nursing-home bed, already having now breathed his last breath, only then did Geoff have at last the courage, to reach over to his now dead Dad, and to hug him once more, as he placed a kiss onto his still warm forehead.

Some fears last a life-time.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

This is a well-known enough quote. It is from the former American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, (1882 to 1945).

This might in fact be true of course, but when we have father's like Geoff had here in this story, the fear becomes more than just such a fear then. It has anger, hurt, and pain attached to it then too.

A brief enough afterword, or two

"It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both."

This pertinent quote is from Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian writer, diplomat, and philosopher, (1469 to 1527).

The quote probably explains why fathers become such fearful figures to their sons sometimes. They want so much to be loved by the son, but when the son can't be forced to love, he turns to using the power of fear instead, to try to gain a type of respect, or obeyance of what he asks.

When love enters, fear disappears for a while, but it comes back whenever that fear is felt to be really more powerful than it actually is, and so thought to be then even more powerful than love.

The way to move past this is to try to allow yourself to love the fear, or its instigator (Geoff’s dad here).

If Geoff could have loved his dad, he might still not have removed fully his fear of him because of the way his father behaved towards him, but doing this (bringing himself to love his father) at least in Geoff’s later years, (Geoff was in his sixties himself, when his father died) might have allowed his father to be not so frightening to him, because of this fear.

A child though fears the fear and everything else that caused him to fear, or that first created that fear within him.

Geoff always felt like such a child to his father. He could not move past this father-child relationship to that of an adult-adult one.

Photo Credits:

The photos used in this article have all been freely sourced from the free media site,, that is except for the one of Geoff's father, which is my own photo of him, and the one of me, and my dog.


Attempt At Suicide, Boyhood Fears, Brain Retraining, Clinical Depression, Depression, Explosive Temper, Scientific Research, Short Stories, Short Story, Suicide, Temper

Meet the author

author avatar spirited
I have been interested in the spiritual fields for over thirty five years now. My writing is mostly in this area.

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author avatar Retired
27th May 2015 (#)

Powerful stuff, Spirited. Thanks for sharing this.

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author avatar spirited
27th May 2015 (#)

yes, thanks Christopher.

I hope this type of sharing can help others to make peace with some of their own fears too, hopefully before the death of the cause though.

Actually, I know Geoff, and he is still very fearful of other people too, as well as he was of his father.

This story is dedicated to the all of the Geoff's in this world....I am one of these too...

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author avatar brendamarie
27th May 2015 (#)

spirited, amazing story

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author avatar spirited
27th May 2015 (#)

thanks brendamarie.

There is still a lot of research going on in this area of brain re-training though.

The claim is that most of us are wired to pay more attention to our negative experiences. This depresses us, both emotionally, and within our own thinking.

The thought is that if we look for the positive within the negative every time that a negative thing happens to us, we will rewire our brains to rebuild new connections, and this will then open up the lock that our negative outlook has placed onto our life.

We will then see the good side of the bad more often, and we will see more of the good in the good too.

This though might just be wrapping a bandage around something that is already festering badly in some cases though, I guess. It might then grow worse underneath the bandage, as it did in my story. Perhaps this type of retraining is more suited to adults than to children.

This type of approach is good on the surface in that the waves there might die down a bit when a positive force is applied to the negativity. In this case though, the positive does not cancel out the negative, it just makes it come back even stronger later on.

Instead of ridding ourselves of our negativity like this, we should rather learn to accept and to love all parts of ourselves, both the positive and the negative, and so realise that both of these are only just a part of our dual nature, (and both are necessary, serving a function for us) whilst we live here on this Earth.

Love conquers all, nothing else but love can solve completely all of our problems.

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author avatar Kingwell
27th May 2015 (#)

Spirited, I love the fact that you have written this. There are many people out there like Geoff who may be helped by it. Blessings.

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author avatar spirited
27th May 2015 (#)

thanks Kingwell,

if it can help at least one person, that's good.

Actually, it helped me in writing it, but I mean one other person other than myself, of course, LOL.

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author avatar Helen Thomas
28th May 2015 (#)

WOW ~ This is deep. Thanks for sharing ~ Spirited. My heart goes out to Geoff and others who have experienced abuse like that.

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author avatar spirited
28th May 2015 (#)

thanks Helen,

most problems like this are buried somewhere deep inside of us I feel, and they are usually covered over by that very same fear. Fear is a defence in its way.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
28th May 2015 (#)

Almost anyone can relate to the plight of Geoff. Though times have changed, the fears remain of disappointing parents due to their high expectations. In earlier generations, children were only seen, rarely heard except in muffled tones. Now parents tend to have an easier relationship with their children but still push them hard and that saps the confidence of most children. The cause of fear just shifts but still persists. That may account for high suicidal thoughts persisting in children. Parents take out their frustrations on children too sapping their fragile confidence.

A share that is thought provoking as well as educative, thanks Spirited - siva

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author avatar spirited
28th May 2015 (#)

Thanks siva, I heard today on the news that the latest idea is not to set kids homework at school anymore. This allows them to keep their free spirit, and flexible thinking modes intact apparently.

Generations return to the past sometimes, maybe in fifty years time, children will be only seen and not heard anymore again LOL

Stand up, speak up, then shut up my old Dad used to say if we wanted to say something, otherwise we had to be silent while the adults talked amongst themselves.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
28th May 2015 (#)

Yes Spirited, I used to be lost for words when people asked me in my father's presence, a doctor, whether I would follow in his footsteps. I did not have any such inclination, then I was asked what else was my goal. Mind you, I hardly knew what other choices I had! My father hardly interacted with us and that made the situations worse!

I am reminded of a boss who used to tell others in meetings - you are all entitled to "my" views! It used to be - let us talk but "I will decide"!

Asian parents have a tendency to push their children but I just tell my son - it is your call what you want to become in life and still do though he has started working. The tuition syndrome is sort of a cancer that has caused children to remain cooped up at home than enjoy the outdoors. It is sad parents think they have no choice except to live vicariously through their children and push them to a life of misery. This lifestyle has even been taken across international borders (you should know!).

However, I read recruiters are now looking for a modern version of pedigree too apart from degree - meaning extracurricular interests and records are also evaluated - siva

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author avatar spirited
28th May 2015 (#)

28th May 2015 (#)

"you are all entitled to "my"

Thanks for re-commenting here siva.

That's a very funny comment in its way, (in the sense that you would expect to only hear it in a television comedy show)that is if it wasn't so true of most bosses, politicians, doctors, policeman, and most other authority figures too.

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author avatar Carol Roach
31st May 2015 (#)

Geoff needed proper therapy not that patch up job. His father could have killed him with that vicks, that was cruel and he should have been put in jail, after which he too needed counselling

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author avatar spirited
31st May 2015 (#)

Yes, thanks Carol, it was a nasty thing for Geoff's father to do, but perhaps jail would be a bit too severe

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