Dr Cipriano’s Cell


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175 in stock


By Dr CJP Lee

ISBN: 978-1-84991-127-6
Published: 2010
Pages: 158
Key Themes: mental health, fiction, psychology, humour


Conservative psychiatrist Dr Cipriano works on a ward in contemporary England where Professor Hawthorn will do anything to further his own career. Paranoia is rampant on the ward. Desperately needing a break, at a health farm Dr Cipriano begins a relationship with an ex-patient’s partner. Suspicious deaths follow on the ward, and Dr Cipriano’s brother is murdered in Cyprus, but then appears in England. Dr Cipriano ends up sectioned on the ward and takes part in Hawthorn’s specially devised televised group therapy. Dr Cipriano’s Cell confronts the binary approaches to pathology concerning the sane and insane, exploding the obsession with power and control which often dominates psychiatric discourse and practice. A Gothic comedy, with powerful psychological insight, Dr Cipriano’s Cell plunges the depths and corridors of the psychiatric system in true Kafkaesque style.

About the Author

Born in Middlesex in 1969, just prior to man apparently landing on the moon, Dr CJP Lee studied psychotherapy and abnormal psychology in London, and worked in mental health in London and Liverpool, and in a refugee camp in Eastern Europe, gaining extensive knowledge of psychiatric environments and disorders. While absolute fiction Dr Cipriano’s Cell is based on solid facts and truths.

Book Extract

‘They’re in there, studying me, recording everything I do, like going to the loo. Then they’re broadcasting it to the whole world,’ cried Patricia Reynolds, the ward’s longest resident.
Dr Cipriano had another patient who believed a television was inside his head, and it had taken on talismanic powers. He also saw the show inside his van, in his lounge, and at his dad’s house. This was irrational, but it did have a precedent – tribesmen believe cameras can steal their soul.
‘What if you change your knickers?’ queried Dr Cipriano.
‘Don’t you think I’ve tried that!’
‘Then go commando,’ suggested a Senior House Officer, who looked younger than Patricia’s primary school milk monitor.
‘That’s it, just throw the knickers away, and you will be free of the delusion.’
Drawing the curtains around the bed, like a performance at the Moulin Rouge, Patricia slipped off her knickers, checking them for electronic bugs or cameras, stamped on them, then started waving them like the national flag.
‘Look, see, there’s nothing there,’ she screamed.
‘Four hundred milligrams of Diazepam,’ ordered Dr Cipriano, the registrar, and currently the boss.

Grandiloquent piano swooshes and strings floated over from the television lounge, while the staff bashed away at keyboards. While the rest of them religiously carried out this practice, for Dr Cipriano it was an excessive waste of time that should be spent understanding conditions. But his perfectly formed letters were unlike the usual doctor’s scrawl. Ever since he was a boy he’d wanted to be a psychiatrist. George the V was not the most prestigious institution, but if he kept his head down, and stuck close to the well-known consultant, Professor Hawthorn, he would steadily make his way up the ladder. Pushing five ten, a brown motorbike helmet for hair, his most striking features were his brooding squashed puppy eyes that never cried. As a teenager the closest he came to delinquency was putting Smarties’ tubes onto the legs of cats to make them walk like robots.
A nurse, thrusting a phone in his face, caused him to splurge his well-manicured manuscript, and, he distinctively heard the sound of a golf ball being sliced.
‘I’m at the world conference on depression in Zurich this week, and next, so you’ll have to be in charge again. Anything of interest come up?’
‘One patient, Patricia Reynolds, she thought she had cameras in her knickers.’
‘And did she? I mean you can never be sure these days with CCTV everywhere, and we can all make sartorial mistakes.’
‘We just got her to take her underwear off.’
‘Do you think that’s wise? A lot of the men are sex mad, being cooped up like that all day you’d be desperate for it.’
‘It seemed like the best solution, and medication frequently reduces the libido.’

‘Certainly Cipriano, but the best short-term solutions are often not the best in the long term, believe me doctor. Anyhow, got to go.’
As he left the ward, Dr Cipriano was held back by Gavin, a new in-patient.
‘You’ve got to let me out of here, it’s driving me insane,’ he growled at Dr Cipriano, who smiled sweetly back at the man that had told him his best friend had been killed by a toilet seat falling from a space station, and that he had powers to bring the dead back to life.
‘You’re here because your family want you here. They’ve put you on a section. If you want to get out you need to talk to a solicitor,’ Dr Cipriano answered blankly, feeling helpful.

Gavin replied with a smile, so broad and so slow, it was impossible to tell whether he was in fact terribly sweet, or just terribly simple.
‘We’re all special and different, I suppose,’ muttered the patient.
Dr Cipriano didn’t want to turn into a colleague of his who was a consultant in North London, on his mobile 24/7, checking his shares, inviting estate agents round to his house every week to see if his precious asset had risen. In a better world the man would have been aborted at birth, but with his Tony Blair ears trophy head, he had succeeded at an obscenely young age, gaining a coveted consultancy before Dr Cipriano.

Gavin’s face was that of someone who felt like putting a bullet through the eyes of every panda on the planet that wouldn’t screw to save its species. He glanced up Fingerwood’s insanely long corridor, and spotted Paul shuffling out of his room, a man who never uttered a word, except when asking for a light. Perhaps the man was an expert in dactylology, the use of the hands and fingers to communicate. And it was here, in this life-destroying place, that Gavin must make his home for the next twenty-eight days.
At home, sitting in front of his computer, fingering his mid- nineteenth century phrenological ceramic head, Dr Cipriano tried to make sense of all the cases of psychosis he had been handling. A linking theme was cameras, and, while not all the patients had been believers, this was linked to a fear in an omniscient camera-style God, who knows every hair on your head. God was supposed to make you feel secure, safe and loved. But, what if God made you feel paranoid, or delusional, and trapped you in the depths of anxiety and fear, then what?

Most of Dr Cipriano’s patients had lost their way, because they had lost their purpose, and meaning had gone out of their lives. If they could only see that that there was a future, where they could contribute, but it wasn’t really his job to get involved in all that. His job was, in the main, to prescribe medicine and to oversee its results, which was inevitably a tricky business, for it could never be an exact science.
After watching a gay comedian chatting to American celebrities who failed to understand his every word, Dr Cipriano fell asleep on the sofa, with the all-seeing eye murmuring away in the corner like a Mayan god.
‘What, please, who is this?’ gasped Dr Cipriano.
‘Never mind that,’ uttered an excited Professor Hawthorn, ‘the woman with the camera in her knickers, I’m sure I have heard of a case like that before. I think it’s also linked to tokophobia, fear of childbirth.’
‘You’re not thinking of the famous case of the woman who thought she had a camera inside her?’


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