Psychologists are ambivalent chasers

Posted by By at 17 February, at 08 : 05 AM Print

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/alaye/public_html/wp-content/themes/Video/single_blog.php on line 46

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/alaye/public_html/wp-content/themes/Video/single_blog.php on line 56

From my Archives


I complained to the officer on duty that I was afflicted by a severe bout of ‘sero-irradiation syndrome’

“What’s ‘sero-irradiation syndrome’? He asked., glaring at me.

“It is just that. ” I replied and grabbed the desk as though to support myself from falling.

“I got no idea what that type of illness that is. How does it feel?” He enquired, studying me with a curious look.

“How does what feel?” I asked though he was talking a foreign language.

He looked at me as though I was crazy. “Your illness, ‘sero.-.., I cannot even pronounce it.”

“Sero-irradiation syndrome. What about it?”

“Oh, boy! I asked how does it feel?” His face was wreathed in irritation.

“It feels like sero-irradiation syndrome. That’s how it feels.” I replied, not very cheerfully.

He decided it was useless to carry the discussion any further. I was taken to the Psychiatric. She was a petite, very thin woman in a flowing black skirt and a white blouse. She could have been once beautiful, but age has begun to tell. I decided to aggravate her.

She smiled sweetly if a little bit nervously. A stick of Shag burned between her tiny fingers. The room was decorated like children playing room. Colorful wall-paper draped the walls. Various colorful objects were placed at every corner. The psychiatric sat in one easy chair, gently smoking her tobacco.

A flask of coffee was on a low stool. She drank black coffee from a handle-less cup. She introduced herself and offered me her hand. I barely touched the hand as though I was afraid of getting contaminated. “Would you like some coffee?” She asked, and smiled sweetly. Her teeth were tiny and neat.

“I hate coffee,” I replied in a wooden tone.

She made a note on a little pad on the stool. “Why do you hate coffee, do you know?”

“It reminds me of Pepsi-Cola,” I replied, automatically.

She wrote more in her little pad. “What it is exactly in coffee that reminds you of Pepsi-Cola?” Her voice was sweet, with no hint of irritation.


“So you don’t like coffee because you dislike Pepsi-Cola, is that what you meant?”

“No, that’s not what I meant,” I said, stiffly.

She was beginning to get confused. She scribbled more in her notepad. A long paused ensued before she asked, “What do you mean, then?”

“I like Pepsi-Cola,” I said, cheerfully, lapping at my lips as though some invisible sweet were on them.

She made a note in her pad. Dragged on her tobacco, and surveyed my impassive face with renewed interest. I wondered what was going on in her head petite.

“You hate coffee because it reminds you of Pepsi-Cola. Yet, you’re telling me that you like Pepsi-Cola.” She said in disbelief.

“That’s correct. That’s precisely correct.” I replied, enigmatically.

She looked at me with re-kindled interest. The course of the dialogue must be painful to her sweet heart. She was evidently unnerved by my sangfroid. I tried to look my malicious best. My mouth snarling as though some savage thoughts were coursing through my consciousness. I didn’t intend to make her afraid of me. That would spoil the fun. I just want to put enough scare in her to make sure she recommended that I needed psychiatric treatment. I needed to get out of here at all cost. The wall of prison is too enclosing, too suffocating for my well-being. I needed to get out to gather pieces of my life together and, hopefully, build it into a new whole again. I will go along with the psychiatric banter as long the purpose of my visit was not forgotten or got lost in the psychological filibuster.

“What does Pepsi-Cola reminds you of, then?” Her small teeth flashed in a sweet smile.

I regarded her as though she’d taken leave of her senses. “It reminds me of Pepsi-Cola, of course. What else should it remind me of?” I challenged, indignantly.

She drank her coffee, holding the cup to partially cover her face. I caught her stealing glances in my direction. She tried to balance the cup on her thigh crossed-over. “Do you want Pepsi, then?”

I looked her all over and shook my head vigorously, “I don’t drink Pepsi-Cola in the morning.” I replied automatically.

She traced the rim of her cup with her small finger and said, “It is past four in the afternoon. That certainly is not morning.”

“My mother used to tell me things are not the way they are,” I said mysteriously.

We continued to regard each other warily, saying no word. She has patience, and look like she could listen forever. Perhaps, that’s part of her training.

“I know what you’re going to say.” I blurted out, suddenly, laughing cryptically.

She stared at me coolly, “How did you know what I was going to say?”

“You, sociologists, always say the same thing. You were going to say that I hate my mother. Weren’t you? ” I replied with enthusiasm, as though I was imparting some Nobel-prize winning knowledge.

“I am not a sociologist,” She replied forcing a little smile, “I am a psychiatrist. Do you hate your mother, then?” Her stare was penetrating.

“Why should I hate my mother?” I asked gloomily, as though I was wounded by the question.

“It’s just a question.” She replied quickly, apparently trying to massage my wounded feelings.

“No, I don’t hate my mother. Only my uncle. I hate my uncle. I hate him like I can hate only my uncle.” I said puzzlingly.

She settled more comfortably in her seat. It appears that I’ve imparted some interesting points to the discussion. Her pad laid on the table, unused. “Why do you hate your uncle?” She enquired with that gentle voice and benign smile of hers.

“Actually, my uncle is really not my uncle,” I said, and smiled darkly.

This threw another wrench in the discussion. She shook her head gently at this momentous declaration. “Your uncle is really not your uncle?” She managed to ask.

“No.” I cried, without elaborating my meaning.

“I cannot follow your train of thought, pardon me. You said you were suffering from ‘sero-irradiation syndrome’, an ailment you didn’t manage to describe. Now you claim you have an uncle who’s really not your uncle. If I’m to be of any help, you have to confide in me. You have to tell me more about yourself. Shall we begin with this uncle of yours?” She prompted.

“Coo ool.” I crooned and stared at her.

She picked up her pad and scribbled rapidly. “Actually,” I began and she dropped the pad, automatically.

“Actually,” I started again, “he (my uncle) is not my uncle. He is, in fact, my in-law. His mother was married to my real uncle, the younger brother of my father. Then my real-uncle fell in love with his pretty half-sister and they got married. So the mother became my real-uncle’s mother-in-law, and he, my false-uncle, became my uncle’s brother-in-law since my real uncle was now married to his sister. The mother was upset and left my uncle. He (my false-uncle) was also upset and threatened to break my uncle (my real uncle’s) head. My father was also upset with my real-uncle because he had brought shame into our family. I got upset because my false-uncle threatened to break my real-uncle’s head. I hate him. Oh, how I hate him.” My voice was heavy as though with huge sadness. I looked and behaved like one on the verge of a violent act.

“Have you tried to talk this over with him, your uncle. I mean, your false-uncle, or to a psychologist?”

“Talk to him!” I shouted and spat on the floor. “In my village, such things are not talked about, they are settled by other means.” I slashed my throat with the edge of my hand, indicating murder. “The problem was that he, my false-uncle is a powerful hunter. He also is famed juju man. He can command the wind to change direction. And he’s our village rain-man. I am sure he was responsible for my detention by the police. He can do anything. Also, I noticed that the police here took an immediate dislike to me. Everybody hates me as though I’m paranoid. You see how they all stare at me,” I said, pointing to some imaginary figures, “nothing like that can happen to me without my false-uncle’s interference. He knew that I hated him with every cell in my blood. He’s persecuting me. He’s going to be my undoing. I came to Accra to avoid his wicked powers, now he’s followed me here. Maybe he sent you?” I blurted out, wagging a finger in her direction.

She shrank back, “That look like some script by Woody Allen.” She managed a faint smile.

“Who’s Woody Allen?” I asked with a puzzling expression.

“He’s a film director who writes scripts you encounter only in bad dreams. Have you ever receive psycho-analytical treatment?”

“You think that I am crazy,” I screamed, my voice reverberating throughout the huge building. “I knew I was right about you. My false-uncle sent you to join in my persecution.”

A big guard with a huge pistol at his side materialized and came towards me. She motioned him to a stop. “It’s OK!” She declared to the big agent with a forbidden expression on his prize-fighter face.

“I didn’t say that you were crazy and psychotherapy is not only for crazy people. I think you were a victim of a troubled upbringing. Were you abused by your parents?” She asked.

‘Troubled upbringing’, ‘abused by my parent’. We’re getting somewhere. ‘Nice smiles’, my name for her, will soon get me out of this dungeon.

“How so?” I feigned ignorance.

“Did your parents beat you?”

I roamed my eyes on her quizzical face, “What sort of question is that? I think it’s normal for parents to beat their children, it’s part of the upbringing. Of course, my parents trashed me. My parents are not responsible for my sufferings, my uncle was, is. He hated me as much as I hate him, maybe a little more. We’re talking about my uncle, aren’t we?”

“It is not normal for parents to beat their children. It could lead to long-term emotional disturbances, like the one you’re now experiencing. You really hate your parents, but because they beat you, you are afraid of them. You cannot make them the object of your hatred. This hatred is what you transferred to your uncle, your false-uncle, if I may use your expression. Even though you think he’s powerful, he didn’t beat you. He’s never harmed you. You see, even though you fear him, you still don’t hate him. You are afraid of him, yes. But fear is not the same as hatred. The full fury of your hatred, which should be directed at your parents, who beat you, is been channeled, sub-consciously, to your uncle. It is difficult to understand the logic of sub-consciousness. Psycho-analysts try to help those with your type of long-term emotional problem.”

So she believed that I hated my parents and that I was in mortal fear of an imaginary uncle, false-uncle? I’ve also succeeded in making her believe that I hated coffee because it reminds me of Pepsi-cola, and that I love Pepsi-cola. Let her believe what she will. Our problems are totally different. She’s paid to believe whatever she wanted. I only wanted to get out of my detention. If she could persuade the police authorities that I suffer from ‘long-term emotional disturbance.’

“And my girlfriend too…” I said mournfully.

“What about your girlfriend?” She asked with concern.

“We was engaged to be married.”

“You were engaged, not was engaged…” She corrected my poor grammar, “Oh, sorry.” She added when she noticed my wounded expression.

“No matter, everybody hates me.” I cried

“Do you want to talk about this girl-friend of yours?”

“No. She hated me also. We was engaged to be married, ” I said, totally ignoring her correction, “she liked me until my uncle, my false-uncle came between us. Now she wouldn’t touch me with a pole. She said I was too much for her, can you imagine that? I told you my uncle hates me.”

“Your uncle really doesn’t hate you and you don’t hate him,” she maintained, “yours is a classical case of acute paranoia. What you’re experiencing is a state of mental deterioration and emotional malfunction bordering on delusions and acute paranoia. This has led to the disintegration of your personality. Since every human being is a product of nature and nurture; his personality is formed by both hereditary and environmental factors and, since your early life was fraught with so many conflicts and repressions, resulting from severe abuses by your parents. It is understandable why you developed such complex neurosis, that’s just a shave from the pathological. The result of these abuses is that you grew up socially-maladjusted.

“You cannot harmonize your desires. You cannot conform. You’re emotionally unstable. In your deluded mind, everyone hates you, that’s the hallmark of paranoia. You suffer from persecution-phobia. Your personality dynamics have been arrested by the brutalities you suffered at the hands of your parents. Your frustrations and insecurity aggravate your aggressive tendencies. This can only give rise to hostility, aggression and occasional violence. These negative, abnormal attitudes have to be released. But since your consciousness rebels against your sub-conscious hatred of your parents, and will not make them the object of your hatred. This hatred has to be directed elsewhere. This has produced a cognitive imbalance. Your awareness of, and your desire to reduce this dissonance has created rationalizations. Your id is battling to reduce the tension and the discomfort generated by these internal conflicts. Your aggressive instincts are attaining supremacy over your rational self. Since your id is functioning where your superego should, you seek immediate release of your tensions, instead of seeking harmonization of your conflicting personality. You have directed your rage, your hatred against your uncle. You have chosen your uncle as a scapegoat.”

Phew! What a load of psycho-babble. I’ve never listened to such psychological bullshit in my life and, of course, I couldn’t place myself anywhere in her impassioned analysis. I don’t belong in her world of ‘delusions’, ‘pathology’, ‘maladjustment’, ’emotional malfunctioning’. They are utter bunkum to me. My parents didn’t brutalize me, God knows. I know now why they say that psychologists are ambivalent chasers. And they call all these nonsense a science, ah. This is in no way more scientific than the star-gazing crap practiced by some abracadabra-chanting charlatans in my village. And people waste money to study this nonsense.

Her keen eyes shone brightly. She looked as though she was delivering a lecture to a packed audience. And she carried herself like some oracle.

She recommended I needed an expert, read psychological, treatment. I needed good therapy, she proclaimed. She gave me a slip to give to the guard.

“I hope you will follow the instructions, it will do you a whole lot of good.”

“Cool.” I vibrated.

The story of my mental illness had swept through the jail. I ran into one of my cell-mates, Kwaku, on my way to the cell. He smiled melancholically and said to me, “I warn you about that Caribbean devil. Now, he don make you crazy. He, im be devil.”

“The only crazy person,” I replied, “is one that allows himself to be put in jail against his wishes. Tell your friends that reports of my insanity are exaggerated.” I said and left him staring at my back.



About the Author 

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and ModernGhana, and Correspondent for the New African magazine, Femi lives in both Europe and Africa and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the Man and Machine Coordinator at Alaye Dot Biz Limited, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organization that specializes in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
  2. WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
  3. Ghana Writers Association office, PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra.
  4. Afia Beach Hotel, Accra

Where to buy them online:

On Lulu Books:

18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories

Ghana: Basic Facts + More:

Africa: Destroyed by the gods:

Africa: It shall be well:


Africa: it shall be well

on Kindle books:

on Amazon books:

on Lulu Books:

Africa: Destroyed by the gods

on Kindle books:


18 African Fables & Short Stories:


on Amazon books:

on Lulu Books:

 My Lulu Books page:


Get free promotional materials here:

  1. Africa: it shall be well:

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: It shall be well’ can be downloaded here:

  1. Africa: Destroyed by the gods (How religiosity destroyed Africa)

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: Destroyed by the gods’ can be downloaded here:

Read a review here

Femi’s Blog:
Websites: ;
Femi on Amazon
Femi Akomolafe’s Lulu Books page:
YouTube Channel:
Profile on New African magazine:

Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Blog, News, Polemics, Random Musings, Satire , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Support us with your Paypal Donations