Internal file of Dr. Susan Peterson. Do not copy.
Patient: Mason Stone
Occupation: NYPD, SWAT team leader.
Profile: Gulf War veteran, divorced, PTSD, depression, prone to extreme violence. Therapy ordered by NYPD due to recurring incidents of police brutality.
Medications: Patient has been prescribed Klonopin, but is not taking it.
Payment: Employer Insurance
The following initial analysis is week four of ongoing sessions.
Mason Stone is a study in extremes. The boundaries of his emotional states span a much wider spectrum than any clients I’ve studied before. On one end he is gentle and loving as a child, eager to please and almost desperate to earn someone’s love and approval, yet expose him to specific triggers and he can possess an explosive hatred and rage unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a patient before. With most people, anger is tied to specific events or actions they feel they’ve been victimized by. With Mason, his rage is broad based, untethered to a specific event. His anger seems to be a culmination of many events in his life and from his views of society in which he despises his own species. He sees humans as inherently evil, pacified and restrained only by laws, not by innate possession of ethics and morals. In our first session he quoted from an author he is fond of, “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind.” He then asked me, “Why else do we need cops?”
There is an amazingly keen awareness of his own mortality that is often at the heart of his belief system. Most people continuously look forward to future events in their life; goals, hopes and dreams. People constantly build upon their estates, buying homes, seeking wealth, expecting a future in which they will always have and enjoy those things. It’s what constantly drives people to keep moving forward into the future. For Mason, once he became aware that his life and existence were simply on a timer, all of that went away for him. “What is the point of building a future of materialistic things when all of that is simply temporary?” Living everyday feeling like everything around him is almost pointless is a major contributing factor to his depression.
This feeling is compounded by the death of his father, who died of a heart attack in front of him while Mason was, in his own words, “Just becoming an adult so my father could see the man I had become.” From Mason’s perspective, his father worked all of his life to achieve the things all people strive for, only to have it all become meaningless as he died on the floor, rendering all of it pointless. I believe this may be one of the strongest catalysts in Mason’s views that “nothing really matters.” He also tells the disturbing story of how the paramedics who responded to his father’s heart attack callously flirted with each other while pounding on the dying man’s chest, his death meaning nothing to them as they simply went about their jobs.
To counter this disenchantment with life, Mason focuses on the simple fleeting moments that create the memories we all cherish. For a person capable of extreme violence, he’s amazingly prone to ‘stopping to smell the roses’, because that fleeting moment is more precious to him than building a future if that future isn’t permanent. He talks about a fondness for snowstorms, for walks in the woods, for dates without expectations. He places far more importance on a few special moments with someone he cares about, than building any type of long term future. “What good is a massive stock portfolio when you’re about to die? But if you and I made love on this couch right now, then threw all of this away and just drove off into the unknown together, that would be something. That’s what life should be about.”
He is deeply insightful, even if his interpretation of his environment is alarmingly different than how the typical person would view the world. While others walk among and interact with other people without concern, Mason sees the worst in people first, approaching each new encounter with distrust and caution rather than open acceptance. In his mind everyone has an ulterior motive, no one is to be trusted, and everyone will take advantage of another the second the opportunity arises. In short, he has little ability to accept and trust people, no matter how long he’s known them.
His psychological weakness, his Achilles’ heel, is a woman’s love. It seems clear that throughout his younger developmental stages he experienced several instances of emotional loss through forced separation from females that he loved and had attachment to. Beginning with the death of his mother at eight years old, to his sisters moving out of the family home and leaving him behind, to breakups in early girlfriend relationships, he is now trapped in a paradox of desperately needing a woman in his life, yet feeling like it is simply a precursor to the pain of them leaving him. In his mind, there is absolutely no hope of any relationship with a women being permanent.
This in turn has brought about extremely jealous and controlling behavior in his relationships. It’s important to note however that while most men exhibit this behavior out of some inherent machismo posture and a sense of female inferiority and male entitlement, Mason’s actions and behavior are derived from the pure fear of loss. Mason reveres, respects and adores women. He carries an old-fashioned sense of chivalry, the sort of man who opens car doors and does the dishes; but his overwhelming fear of loss causes him to exhibit jealous behavior that ironically may end the very relationships he fears losing. In this way he can be his own worst enemy.
The further irony is that he is so intelligent and insightful into human behavior that he knows and recognizes these flaws in himself. Yet he is unable to correct them because he feels that humans by nature are not monogamous, and all relationships are doomed to run their course and fail anyway. So you have a person that is desperate for a permanent mate, yet life has taught him in no uncertain terms that it doesn’t exist. Therefore his most desperate need can never be truly filled, even when he has what he needs right in his hands. One of his comments to me is that in watching all of the relationships around him all of his life, none of them ever lasted. When asked to do so, he could not name a single couple who didn’t either have cheating in the relationship, or divorce. I found it slightly disturbing that if I was asked the same question, I would have the same answer. He believes that while humans like the notion of mating for life, in actuality it goes against natural instincts, which is why people in relationships are still attracted to people outside of the relationship.
He has difficulty maintaining friendships with other males, and this seems all predicated by his jealousies over his mate. Mason’s belief that all humans possess the same animalistic instincts that are in other animal species, and the fact that life experience has proven it, means for him, quite simply, all men would fuck his wife if given the slightest opportunity. Therefore having his mate in the presence of another male without Mason’s supervision is entirely unacceptable to him. This seems to be the greatest trigger for his jealous and controlling behavior. This is the cause for example in his failed marriage that he insisted his wife be a stay at home mom and not have a career. It wasn’t out of a desire to hold back his wife or deprive her of a full life; it was purely out of the desperate need to protect what he had from loss, to isolate her from anything that might take her away. The thought of his mate leaving the home to spend eight hours a day with other men was inconceivable to him. To compound the issue, this wasn’t necessarily how Mason wanted to be, it was what his mental condition forced him to be, and he knew it. Being aware of his own condition, and having a sense of what harm he might be doing to the woman he loved, only increased his internal pain and emotional struggle. It is a classic case of a modern day beast locking the princess away in the tower, not out of meanness, but out of love and insecurity.
He has a predisposition for desiring vengeance and retribution. He doesn’t like people to get away with things. He is a powerful grudge holder, unable to let go of even the smallest of transgressions. Likewise, he has tendency to stand up for and defend the weak. He sees himself as a protector of the wronged, a hero to the victimized, and the judge and jury to their transgressors. He is the type of person you want at your side when you’re in trouble, and the person you never want to be pissed at you. He seems to have little fear of death, and consequently anything else. His relationship with his own mortality seems to give him the philosophy that if he’s going to die eventually anyway, why not now, and why not in a blaze of glory. It makes him reckless, and dangerous to be around in even the simplest of social settings.
As a psychological specimen, I find him fascinating. He is an interesting case in which he exhibits anti-social behaviors that can be attributed to any number of serious psychological disorders, yet my professional opinion is he doesn’t have any of those. All of his actions that society deems out of order or inappropriate are simply born out of his own contempt for that same society. In some ways, blaming Mason for his actions is like blaming a wild animal for scratching you through the cage you just shoved him into. He has an innate distrust and fear that those around him will do him harm. In that way, his actions that seem aggressive are actually all defensive in nature.
He has an amazing way of explaining his belief system and the reasons for his actions, and he does it in such a way that you almost start to see things his way. Several times I’ve caught myself thinking that the things he is saying are true, and perhaps I’m the naive one who is blind to the realities of human nature. That’s hard to accept when I’m the one with the psychology degree. I’m almost worried that I’m going to find there is absolutely nothing wrong with this man, other than the ability to see and speak a reality that the rest of us try to deny exists.
There is however, the underlying issue of his frequent aggression. Mason has a tendency to suddenly turn violent, and the level of that violence is possibly the most extreme I have seen in my practice. The internal police reports I’ve been provided are frightening. In my professional opinion he is extremely dangerous under the right circumstances, unable to control himself once he becomes enraged. In the cases of police brutality, his explanation is “they deserved it”. Our legal system aside, it’s hard to debate with him that people who commit atrocities on innocents don’t deserve punishment that fits the crime. It’s hard to convince a man that he needs to abide by the legal system, when the people he is tasked to confront don’t follow those rules. When we send men to war, the best men to send are fearless, stone-cold killers. Even though we don’t publically characterize our troops that way, we know that’s the truth. When we send a man into the streets to face criminals and uphold justice, in many ways it’s the same. Mason is either entirely the wrong person to give a weapon and badge too, or exactly the right one.
Dr. Susan Peterson, MS, PhD, PysD