[B][U]Compass ^ Point
Ray thought the view from his bedroom window was spectacular. As he sat there, taking in the splendour of a perfectly clear night’s sky and the setting moon rippling in the expanse of ocean, he’d never felt more at peace. A contented sigh escaped as he shifted slightly from his viewpoint, the delicate rustle of his protection only briefly reminding him why he was there. The doctor had been correct, he needed to get away from his responsibilities, he needed a place to recover, he needed a place to be himself and at that moment he couldn’t think of a more perfect spot.
Compass ^ Point, a four bedroom house at the end of a long peninsula was isolated but beautifully positioned. With sea views on all sides, long stretches of desolate beach, scrubland that housed a host of sea-loving creatures, it was an unbelievably stunning place in which to escape.
Ray shared the house with three other patients, each needing this secluded space to calm their growing worries. The doctor who was treating Ray was also treating others with the same internal response… they all found their ‘little’ space when faced with what appeared to be unsurmountable anxieties.
Ray’s marriage broke down when his business spectacularly failed with debts in the millions. His wife had arrived home to find her tough, 30 year-old husband rocking backwards and forwards in a daze, sucking his thumb and wearing soaked clothing. It was debateable whether it was this image that had sent her scurrying for a divorce or the sudden lack of financial security… either way she left within days of Ray’s admittance to hospital.
Ray was unaware of the process that was happening around him. All he really cared about was his toys, grown-ups and what they said and did was beyond his understanding. Not only that, he no longer had control over his bladder or bowel so to all intents and purposes, he was just an incontinent toddler. Pee would just flow from him without so much as a warning and it was at those crucial times he sought his mummy, his dummy and his stuffed animals. Meanwhile, the nurse sought out more nappies.
Sharing the remote house was Danny T. Yes, that Danny T, the cute eighteen year-old lead singer of Xpoint3 - the band that won the top rated TV talent show and, in their first year alone, had sold the ridiculous amount of ten million albums worldwide. The other three members of the group had taken fame in their stride, actually loving all the fuss and accolades that being famous bestowed on the young, talented and good-looking. Unfortunately for Danny, the pressure sent him back to the only point in his life where he felt safe; wrapped in his nappy and hugging his Winnie the Pooh bear. His life on the council estate had been tough; two alcoholic parents, an abusive older brother and vicious older sister all of whom now demanded a part of young Danny’s talent and money. The singing and dancing his entire family had once so readily chastised and ridiculed him over was now the very thing they thought they should receive credit for.
As Ray gazed out of the window at the wonder that this place seemed to emanate, Danny was fast asleep in his Tigger onesie, swaddled in his thick night time nappy, sucking on a dummy and clinging to his comfort object - Winnie. This place had a calming effect on the troubled teen. He’d not been able to sleep for several months; anxiety about success, song writing, performing to thousands of fans and everyone, including his selfish, money-grabbing family, all wanting a piece of him, had left its mark, which was being emotionally and physically scared of the world. He slept much better in his little world, a world that had no pressure and one he could just about cope with. To see him lying there, untroubled, at peace and looking like a sweet baby was just what the house had been designed to do – let people be who they wanted/needed to be.
Meanwhile, in bedroom three, facing east, was Dominic Priestly, the demon hunter from the successful TV series, The Hellgate Letters. Now in its eighth series the character had just about taken over his personality. At thirty three, he looked much older and even though he and everyone about him had kept saying “It’s only a TV show” the pressure to be the svelte, straight-talking, funny, brilliant, crack demonologist had left its mark. The production crew had found him in his trailer crying for his mummy. He’d shit and wet himself and screaming that someone had stolen ‘Teddy DumDum’. Thankfully the show’s psychologist had spotted the signs fairly early on and the star was surreptitiously whisked away to Doctor Greenbaum for urgent attention. He’d slunk into a toddler world where he was safe from demons… of all varieties.
Doctor Greenbaum looked after many celebrities and high-powered, if slightly ‘damaged’ patients. His area of speciality was the regressed mind but Dr Greenbaum had taken that to another level, he saw it as a possible place of attainment rather than a place of retreat. Reverting to being little, and enjoying what freedom that age gave, had made the residents of Compass ^ Point ‘brothers’, a fantastic cross-section of lives in ‘crisis’, which the psychologist thought would be helpful to each other.
Meanwhile, in the north facing bedroom four was the sanctuary of twenty-three year-old Marcus de Winter; Ninth Earl of Cressington, who slept in a large crib surrounded by his staff - hordes of stuffed animals. Although normally enjoying something more sumptuous than a four bedroomed detached house stuck in the middle of nowhere, his anxieties were the same as his fellow residents. The rich very rarely find sympathy when they fail but Doctor Greenbaum had offered both sympathy and a solution to Marcus’s troubles. His recent desire to walk around the castle dressed only in a nappy, pulling a toy duck behind him had been seen as a slight eccentricity (his ancestors had been far weirder) but with paying visitors arriving by the busload, the family had shipped him off for ‘specialist’ treatment.
There were two other people who shared the building and they were Mrs Lofthouse (Lofty to her friends) who, as an ex nurse, sister and matron was trusted by the Doctor to look after the people left in her charge. Although she was direct, efficient, and a practical type of woman she was never short of good humour and her old but sparkling eyes held a quick and compassionate mind. The other was Karen Warmsby, Mrs Lofthouse’s assistant and one who herself had been through the Doctor’s psychological treatment when she had found herself in ‘little’ mode several years earlier. She also cooked for her ‘boys’ and did most of the daily chores, she saw it as giving something back and hopefully helping in whatever way was needed.
“Age is not chronological – it’s what goes on up here,” Dr Greenbaum said tapping his head.
“More to the point,” he continued, “when do you lose the wonder of being a kid and start behaving like an adult?”
His students listened intently to his process.
“When under stress people are often asked to find a ‘safe place’; a place for protection that holds a nice memory or some comfort to the individual. Some have a bolt-hole to run away to when the going gets rough, whilst others might slip into a world of drugs or alcohol to flee from troubles… there are many ways to ‘escape’.”
The Doctor looked around at the faces of his engrossed students. Some in the first year of university life but for many, perhaps away from home for the first time and wondered, which of them were already missing the days when, until recently, they were looked after by mummy and daddy.
He posed the question. “Is it better to have the freedom that being grown-up bestows or better to have no responsibility, be cared for and all decisions made by others?”
The group of young voices mumbled in a sort of internal struggle with this seemingly simple question but, and this is what the Doctor had found, a sizable minority would chose the lack of accountability as their preference… though perhaps not out loud.
The human psyche is there to help deal with everything the world can throw at us in our daily life but not everyone can cope at the same level. Stress to one is an opportunity to another, where a chemical stimulant is social to some it is a dependency to another. Where a secluded bolt-hole is comfort to one, to someone else the isolation might be the worst possible prescription. But, when we find the thing that not only helps our general well-being but offers a solution to our problem, we tend to grab it with both hands and cling on for dear life.
Although Ray was having difficulty in sleeping he had to admit that watching the world go by from the advantage of the house was wonderfully calming. Even when the sea was in turmoil and waves were crashing against the rocks, he felt nothing but peace, tinged with excitement. His feeling of well-being was certainly helped by the thick disposable nappy he wore, the warm comforting material hugging him in such a way as to make his ‘restricted’ world into an enjoyable sensation.
Even the soft rustle as he walked around the house or along the beach was reassuring and offered a comforting hug. He didn’t know why such a strange object, clinging to his privates and swaddling his groin, should be the thing that worked so well, but it did and he wasn’t about to lose the sense of security it offered. He loved the walks along the beach best of all, especially when Auntie Karen held his hand and they paddled or built sand castles.
Compass ^ Point’s patients, although all ages, did in fact react as little kids. They were petulant, cried a lot, messed themselves and could only view what was happening to them from that viewpoint. Of course Danny T had disappeared to babyhood and could only react in the most basic of ways that an under twelve months baby would.
Karen had been through this regressed state and knew a nappy is more than just a thing to soak up urine or collect faeces. It’s a thing, which offers freedom, contentment, safety, comfort and that indefinable sense that overwhelms your entire body and says: “Everything is going to be alright.” She understood what all the patients were going through because she’d been there. She was the link between childhood and an adult world and, in Doctor Greenbaum’s opinion, bridged the two perfectly.
Mrs Lofthouse relied on Ray; he was the least regressed of all the patients at the house and was, despite his nappy, always helpful. Often these moments of effectiveness might only last a few moments before he’d plunge headlong back into his ‘safe’ world where he’d cry for his mummy, suck on his dummy and often fill his crinkly protection. The Earl also occasionally had moments of lucidity and was able to hold a conversation but inevitably drifted into baby talk complete with the desire to get naked and run around pulling his string of ducks on wheels. It was a joy to watch someone so unencumbered by any responsibility, so childlike and deriving so much fun from such simple pleasures.
Once in this state it was often difficult to get Marcus to wear any clothes but Ray (when not so ‘little’ himself) had a way of calming him enough, through distracting him with a game, which enabled Mrs Lofthouse or Karen to put him in a thick disposable and a tight pair of lockable plastic pants that stopped him removing them all the time. However, once imprisoned in such a way he more or less accepted the situation and went off to find other toys to enjoy. Although his perceptions of self were skewed, to some extent at least, he understood being a kid meant adults were in charge and he had to do (and wear) what they said… eventually.
Sometimes he’d use a blanket as a cape and put something on his head, crouch down and say “I’m on da frone” and happily fill his nappy before getting up, completely unconcerned, and carry on with what he was doing. Thankfully, his vinyl pants and bulging disposable kept everything well contained, as they did with all the patients.
For Dominic the Hellgate Letters was a show that made his name and was seen in over 100 countries. His personal following was tremendous and he often topped the ‘Sexiest Man on TV’ league year upon year, well for the last three at least. His tall, commanding charm, his svelte Britishness, his good looks and the show’s award winning script meant he was a man in demand. The comedic throwaway lines were never forced or obvious (often they’d slip by unnoticed by many of his young audience, but seized and analysed by his millions of Comic-Con followers). It was clever, wise and way ahead of anything else on the box, and Dominic carried it off to perfection. To see him now sucking his thumb and wearing a loaded nappy whilst looking vacantly around would have had most of his fans weeping. It could actually have been part of the Hellgate Letters script, so bizarre, weird and uncomfortable was his situation.
Nothing in the house was done to embarrass, hurt or objectify the patients. Mrs Lofthouse let each one of her charges, if they were able, to choose what was best for them, what they felt comfortable wearing. However, like with Marcus, Danny T was too far gone in his head to know anything other than sleep and eat. He sucked his food from a bottle and slept most of the time. Mrs Lofthouse kept him clean and tidy as best she could but in truth, he was having great difficulty in joining in with the others. In fact, he was, literally, the baby of the team and as such needed constant supervision and everything doing for him.
Xpoint3 were huge, a boyband that had swiftly taken over the world and Danny T was the ‘X’ whilst the others were the ‘point3’. Not that the rest of the band didn’t have talent, but it was understood that it was Danny who was the creative force, lead singer and who made the band what it was. Of course the other three members had their own following, and each was the ideal, boy-next-door good-looker but, as they quickly found out whilst Danny was ‘recuperating’ solo projects were easy to launch but success didn’t match the heights the band had achieved.
For the moment at least, and until the good doctor could work his magic, the pop star’s world was his crib, his fluffy animals and his nappy. If he was out of his crib he would be put in a playpen and left to suck on his dummy and hug his bear. Despite Mrs Lofthouse’s efforts and visits from Doctor Greenbaum Danny T was firmly, and apparently happily, stuck in his babyhood. He wanted nothing more than colourful toys, rattles, bricks and an array of stuffed animals to keep him entertained. His nursery print plastic clad bottom was often seen crawling around and investigating (occasionally eating) anything he found. Anything that was done to encourage him not to act as a baby was met by huge doleful tears that would have made the hearts of his girl fans especially, run to comfort him. He could be distracted easily with a noisy or a fluffy toy but his big, sorrowful eyes would haunt you for the rest of the day. He was happy playing simple games and ‘singing’ along to some of Auntie Karen’s rhymes but he tired quickly and often would just curl up and go to sleep in the corner of his playpen.
“Today,” Doctor Greenbaum addressed his students once again, “we are going to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of regression.”
An audible murmur echoed around the lecture room - most of the young faces didn’t know there were benefits to regression.
First year student Claire had her hand up first to ask the question everyone was thinking, everyone except the Doctor that is.
He nodded his head in her direction. “Yes, you have a question?”
“How can there be benefits to such a situation. If a person has blocked themselves off from the real world surely it’s our…” she corrected herself, “the psychiatrist job to help them back?”
The Doctor looked over the eager faces that waited on his every word.
“How many of you here agree with that statement?”
Slowly the majority of hands from the class rose.
The Doctor took a few moments to compose his thoughts.
“Of course you may be correct… but… you have to ask yourself… Why?”
The student murmur increased as they shuffled wondering which Why was the correct Why to ask. Why are we correct? Why do we want to change things? Why did the subject regress in the first place? Why had that person choose regression as their escape? Why…
Yes, there were many reasons to ask Why and perhaps they all needed some attention. The students began to debate and argue between themselves searching for which Why was the most important. Which Why would lead them to a conclusion and then ask Why that was the case?
The Doctor watched in satisfaction as his students grabbed the offered verbal ball and ran with it.
He also knew that asking Why was not always the question because often the psyche didn’t respond to a Why… just an Is.
For his patients at Compass ^ Point – this ‘Is’, is how they are, this is what they need, this is… now.
Compass ^ Point was more ‘refuge and research’ rather than a medical establishment. Doctor Greenbaum, in between lecturing and his practice, visited regularly though mainly left it in the capable hands of Mrs Lofthouse. She sent daily updates to his clinic and supervised any changes to routine/medication the doctor prescribed.
Through his many years of dealing with this psychological problem of ‘regressive retreat syndrome’ he had learned that patients themselves often found a ‘cure’. Some times that meant a complete return to the world they had inhabited before the ‘breakdown’ with nothing more than a few weeks of recuperation needed. Others liked what they had found in their regressive state and decided to incorporate that into their day to day existence. So, nappies, ‘little’ time, play dates, or a variety of things they had found comfort in or being useful at times of stress, would be vectored into their daily lives. Very occasionally the mental trauma would be so overwhelming that a return was not the solution, or indeed possible, and the patient remained cocooned in their juvenile world.
The last outcome was very rare and one of the other two variants the norm.