The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)
Diomedes nodded. He was looking more awake by the second, and more interested. “Go on.”
I started reading from my notes. I took him through the entire session. I repeated her words as accurately as I could and relayed the story she had told me: how the man who’d been spying on her broke into the house, took her prisoner, and shot and killed Gabriel.
When I finished, there was a long pause. Diomedes’s expression gave little away. He pulled a box of cigars out of his desk drawer. He took out a little silver guillotine. He popped the end of a cigar into it and sliced it off.
“Let’s start with the countertransference. Tell me about your emotional experience. Start at the beginning. As she was telling you her story, what kind of feelings were coming up?”
I thought about it for a moment. “I felt excited, I suppose.… And anxious. Afraid.”
“Afraid? Was it your fear, or hers?”
“Both, I imagine.”
“And what were you afraid of?”
“I’m not sure. Fear of failure, perhaps. I have a lot riding on this, as you know.”
Diomedes nodded. “What else?”
“Frustration too. I feel frustrated quite frequently during our sessions.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“You feel like a frustrated father, dealing with a difficult child?”
“Yes. I want to help her—but I don’t know if she wants to be helped.”
He nodded. “Stay with the feeling of anger. Talk more about it. How does it manifest itself?”
I hesitated. “Well, I often leave the sessions with a splitting headache.”
Diomedes nodded. “Yes, exactly. It has to come out one way or another. ‘A trainee who is not anxious will be sick.’ Who was it who said that?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “I’m sick and anxious.”
Diomedes smiled. “You’re also no longer a trainee—although those feelings never go away entirely.” He picked up his cigar. “Let’s go outside for a smoke.”
* * *
We went onto the fire escape. Diomedes puffed on his cigar for a moment, mulling things over. Eventually he reached a conclusion.
“She’s lying, you know.”
“You mean about the man killing Gabriel? I thought so too.”
“Not just that.”
“All of it. The whole cock-and-bull story. I don’t believe a single word of it.”
I must have looked rather taken aback. I had suspected he’d disbelieve some elements of Alicia’s tale. I hadn’t expected him to reject the whole thing.
“You don’t believe in the man?”
“No, I don’t. I don’t believe he ever existed. It’s a fantasy. From start to finish.”
“What makes you so sure?”
Diomedes gave me a strange smile. “Call it my intuition. Years of professional experience with fantasists.” I tried to interrupt but he forestalled me with a wave of his hand. “Of course, I don’t expect you to agree, Theo. You’re in deep with Alicia, and your feelings are bound up with hers like a tangled ball of wool. That is the purpose of a supervision like this—to help you unpick the strands of wool—to see what is yours and what is hers. And once you gain some distance, and clarity, I suspect you will feel rather differently about your experience with Alicia Berenson.”