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Ostomy Memories of a Shrink


THE MAGAZINE “Today's Shrink” wanted to profile Dr. Armando Profligia, the famous psychiatrist, and so I flew down to Mexico City to interview him last summer. His latest book, DREAMS FROM THE DEAD, had been on the New York Times best seller list for several months.

The cab ride into the city from the airport was exciting. Not only did I enjoy the scenery but the frazzled cabbie kept cursing out the window at other drivers as he passed them, usually on the right (I'm not bilingual but it sounded like cussing to me). I had felt safer on the flight down.

We pulled up in front of a very modern and attractive four story building where I would be interviewing the good doctor in his office. There was a tile mosaic that took up one entire side of the structure, depicting what must have been some well-known Mexican hero on horseback. Since I wouldn't know Pancho Villa from Géneral Hector Torres, I just admired it, paid for the cab, and went in.

As I got off the elevator on the fourth floor, an irate dark-eyed woman came storming out of what turned out to be Dr. Profligia's office, mad as a hornet. “Este güey esta loco!” she muttered and pushed past me. [Note: I later discovered her comment roughly translates as “This f***er is crazy!”]

The receptionist ushered me into Dr. Profligia's office after only a minute or two. He is a portly man with a full black beard and he wore a navy pinstriped suit with a vest that appeared stretched to its full capacity. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, he asked me: “You have read my book?”

“Yes. Very thought-provoking,” I said.

“It is a thesis I developed many years ago,” he said in thickly accented English, fingering his beard. “You see, the dead communicate with us through our dreams. And my research with hundreds of patients proves it conclusively. It was just a matter of time before I collected my work in this area and published my findings.”

He spoke at length about his dream thesis, illustrating point after point with examples from his own practice. Several times, due to his animation and obvious enthusiasm for his subject, I had to slow him down while I took notes. As interesting as it all was, I never bought into any of it, I must say. I mean, dead people communicating with us in our dreams? Give me a break.

After almost an hour I felt that I had enough material for an article. Dr. Profligia provided me with a three page bio, copies of several articles he had authored, and an 8x10 black and white photograph of himself. We parted amicably and I promised to call should I have any last minute questions.

My flight out was the next morning and so I had one night on my own in Mexico City. I will say that I ate very well and drank a little too much. On the short stroll back to my hotel, a lovely señorita por la noche approached me, looking for companionship. Of course, I respectfully declined and kept walking. Back in my room, I was probably asleep within minutes.

To my utter astonishment, the next morning when I awoke, I remembered a dream from that night, a dream in which my best friend from college, who had died in a boating accident back in 1997, came to me as real as any dream I have ever had. His face was as clear as his voice.

“Are you nuts?” he said to me in the dream. “Why didn't you bring her up to your room?”

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