The family members present for the bleak prognosis were stunned. His mother openly wept. In some ways, being ‘locked-in’ to a vegetative state seemed worse than death itself. Another family member inquired about the nature of the new theories.
“The current belief is that a singular word, phrase, or course of thought is responsible for triggering it. Lead researchers believe that in these rare cases, the mind of the victim encounters a deadly, inescapable ‘back door’ into the subconscious. An unhealthy focus on this unknown trigger word or phrase leads them to an unsolvable mind puzzle. Once past the threshold to this dark corridor, they are locked into a completely isolated false reality. The nature of this deteriorating mental condition is usually inescapable because the patient is unaware that they are trapped in a dead-end discourse. For the rest of their lives, they are oblivious to the outside world, or external stimuli.”
“How horrible! My son is trapped inside his own overactive imagination and isn’t even aware of it. Have there been any cases of patients escaping this mental trap?”; His Mother inquired. “…and would it help our chances of him finding his way out, if we had him transferred to a more specialized facility?”; She asked.”There must be something we can do.”
“To my knowledge, there have only been a couple of cases worldwide of ‘locked-in’ patient recovery. Even they were highly controversial. The results and initial diagnosis were contested by medical skeptics. The dissenting scientists argued that the recovered patients were only in a coma; and not really ‘Locked-in’ victims.”
His captive audience nodded. Each of them weighed the pros and cons of what the doctor was telling them. It was easy to feel hopeless with Howard lost in his own psychological hell.
“I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up but both cases of ‘locked-in’ recovery shared many similarities with Howard’s recent medical history. According to the testimonials, neither of them had experienced any form of trauma; and both were obsessed with introspection. Doesn’t that sound like his prior circumstances?”
Several family members nodded in agreement. Howard was the pinnacle of odd obsessions and deep introspection.
“Everyone I have spoken to about Howard describe him as being almost ‘manic’ and whimsical. They say that he seemed to have a ‘brain fever’ of imagination which caused his chronic insomnia. Perhaps his past level of brain over-activity also made him predisposed to this condition. If we could research and delve into his personal obsessions, we might be able to figure out what trapped him within his own mind. Do any of you know what recent thoughts or ideas he was most fixated on?
“I can bring in his journal from home. He wrote in it voraciously.”; His Mother declared. “He was always spilling out his endless thoughts on those pages. Maybe there is a clue in there that can help him snap out of this! It was on the bed beside his body when we found him this way. I’ll run home and get it.”
The doctor nodded in supportive approval. He liked the idea of giving the family a little hope. It seemed to help them hold onto something positive in the face of overwhelming odds. He explained that he had to attend to his other patients but promised to check back on Howard at the end of his rounds.