Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Chief Complaint

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Chief Complaint

Article excerpt

The subtle spells began when he was nine

History of the present case reveals.

For months on end he lived in a dream state

Terrified the dreamer would awaken.

Each night his real dreams would take him

To a recurrent bible scene: A madman

Hand upraised; a son about to be slain;

The knife descending by commandment.

The spikes and waves of the lateral brain.

His father worked for the National Tube

The social history reveals. Exposure

To toxic fumes that soaked their house

"Like rain" is among the causal diagnoses.

Cars had to turn their headlights on at noon!

Devout and Russian Orthodox, his mother

Never suspected his devotion to catechism

The ecclesiastic fanaticism of a seizure.

She thought he was destined for the priesthood.

Review of systems reveals bouts of ecstasy:

Spring nights he'd sit for hours on end

Immobile, listening "to the earth break open."

He chanted rosary until his spells

"Rang" in him "like the tolling of apocalypse. …

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