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I have only an image, a fragment of this short stories book: somebody that is looking a text in a paper; before to read it he realized that the shape of the text seems to be a standing man with the open arm. The paper is written by a schizophrenic and in one vertical half it is written a sentence while in the other half is written the opposite (something like "I love you / I don't love you").

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"The Man Inside", a short story by Bruce McAllister, first published in Galaxy Magazine, May 1969, available at the Internet Archive, reprinted a few times.


Here's the set-up:

I am ten and a half years old, and I must be important because I'm the only boy they let into this laboratory of the hospital. My father is in the other room of this hospital. He's what Dr. Plankt calls a "catatonic," because Dad just sits in one position all the time like he can't make up his mind what to do. And that makes Dr. Plankt sad, but today Dr. Plankt is happy because of his new machine and what it will do with Dad.

Dr. Plankt said, "This is the first time a computer will be able to articulate a man's thoughts." That means that when they put the "electrodes" (those are wires) on Dad's head, and the "electrodes" are somehow attached to Dr. Plankt's big machine with the spinning tapes on it, that machine will tell us what's in Dad's head. Dr. Plankt also said, "Today we dredge the virgin silence of an in-state catatonic for the first time in history." So Dr. Plankt is happy today.


Here's where "schizophrenia" is mentioned:

We're waiting for the big "computer" to tell us what's in Dad's head! A few minutes ago Dr. Plankt said that his machine might help his "theory" (a bunch of thoughts) about "personality symmetry in correlation with schizophrenia." He didn't tell me what he meant by that because he wasn't talking to me when he said it. He was talking to another doctor, and I was just listening. I think what he said has to do with Dad's personality, which Mom says is rotten because he's always so grouchy and nervous and picky. Mom says I shouldn't ever be like Dad. She's always telling me that, and she shouts a lot.


Here's the printout:

       OH  OH
       MY  MY
    WIFE,  SON!
        I  I
CERTAINLY  CERTAINLY
       DO  DO
      NOT  NOT
     WANT  WANT
       TO  TO
     LIVE  DIE!


Here's how the boy describes it:

When I squint my eyes and look at these words from Dad's head, they look like a man in a hat with his arms out, kind of like Dad—except that there's a split down the middle of this man.

It's funny, but I know just how Dad feels.

  • I remember this story rather vividly. – FuzzyBoots Mar 29 at 11:28
  • 1
    What is the schizophrenic connection? – Azor Ahai Mar 29 at 18:31
  • 3
    @AzorAhai From the internet archive link in the answer, the text includes A few minutes ago Dr. Plankt said that his machine might help his "theory" ... about "personality symmetry in correlation with schizophrenia." – Joshua Taylor Mar 29 at 18:44

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