Sunday, February 17, 2008

There was a Doctor in the House

NYC therapist brutally murdered. Perpetrator escapes. It is presumed he was victim’s patient…a basic plot for Law and Order.

Except that it happened Tuesday night in my apartment building.

Wednesday morning I jaunted down the stairs from the 4th floor to the landing and literally ran into 2 policemen. From my vantage point, a sea of men in black coats. The lobby teemed with NYC detectives and NYPD.

My friend stepped off the elevator and shared the story. What a loss to the therapist’s family, clients, to the community. A second doctor had tried to rescue her only to be met with severe injuries. His disabled wife, whose chronic illness “gave her the appearance of a drunk”, was left uninformed as to where the ambulance would deliver her husband. Mauled but conscious, he is wheeled out the door, just beside her, and she is denied information because someone judged her to be out of control.

Yesterday the murderer was apprehended. His beliefs regarding the second doctor – that he had been his therapist and was responsible for his 21 year incarceration in a mental health facility – may be totally untrue. Indeed, the female therapist was regrettably in the way of his immediate objective: to rob and injure the male. Ultimately, he wanted to force the release of his mother from a nursing home and take her out of the country, to be with her always. He’d been charged only a few days earlier with an attack on an attendant in a thwarted attempt to “rescue” her, and had been set free while awaiting trial.

When I first stepped outside Wednesday morning, cameras rolled, a reporter raised a microphone to my face: “Describe your first reaction to hearing of the murder.” She was clearly looking for drama, sensationalism, enough to drive her viewers into fear. My response included the horror, the gross injustice, sadness, and a therapist’s treacherous challenge to balance best patient care with personal safety. I left the house thinking that as Coaches it is imperative to maintain awareness of what’s showing up for the client. That we pay attention, listen to inklings. Is she basically healthy? Does coaching serve her or might therapy provide a better option at this time? Noticing new data as it emerges.

And continually Choosing.

How do we choose the reality we so wish to ignore? The fear when it shows up, the desire to run. In order to be of value to our community, we offer what we know: there’s no moving forward until we choose the situation as it is revealed. And if there is fear, what action can we take to tolerate it? Is it possible to increase our security without sacrificing our freedom?

Upon reflection, some may choose to leave.

When my 2 children, who were raised in this building, heard of the crime, they were terrified for me. My daughter’s first utterance was, “Mom, you have to get out of New York.” Fight or flight. The law of self-preservation. What could be more natural?

Yet we see over and over again just how random life can be. There is no law of complete control in life’s design. New York is my home for now. I realize there are further precautions, small steps I may take to strike an acceptable balance between my safety and my freedom.

My choice is to stay.


Melissa Kreiling said...

I am very moved by this entry. The theme of choice emerges time and time again and I am ever reminded of the statement that we cannot control the truth, we can only control our reaction to the truth. This tragedy will shake anyone, and in the end we need to choose what is the best reaction for ourselves. Certainly not the stuff that makes for good drama, vis-a-vis the media; but it does help us to keep our lives in balance.