The Dispenser Of Gold.
Peggy, a 35 year-old accounting executive, walked around the shopping centres close to her home each evening, and handed to a perfect stranger a gold bangle, to another a gold pendent, and yet to a third, a set of gold ear-rings. They looked at her quizzically, thanked her for her largess, and walked away. This went on for a few months, until a neighbour noticed her generosity. Soon, news of her evening’s gift-giving trips reached her family. To their consternation, Peggy had emptied her bank account, and the reason she had been asking money from her siblings, in the last few weeks, soon became clear. When Janet, her sister, confronted her, Peggy became indignant and attempted to hit her. A usually quiet and respectful person, this change in attitude shocked her family. At Henry’s insistence, since her older brother was the only one whom she would listen to, the three of them made an appointment to see me.
Peggy was silent throughout the initial part of the session, while Janet filled me in on their concerns. Peggy had earlier resigned from her job without giving any reasons. After garnering Janet and Henry’s explanations, I requested that I would like to speak with Peggy alone. Peggy said someone told her to draw out her money to buy gold and to give away to whomever she met in the evenings!
“Peggy, who talked with you about it?” I enquired.
“Just a voice,” she said.
“I see. Did that voice belong to a person you know?”
When did that voice first speak with you?”
“About three months ago.”
“Would you like to tell me what was happening about three months ago?” I probed.
“I did not sleep well for over a two weeks’ period, because I had feelings for a male colleague, but he did not seem to be interested in me. It was then that I heard the voice. It said that if I gave gold away, then my colleague would marry me.”
“And what happened after that?” I asked.
“I bought gold jewelry once or twice a week and gave them to my female colleagues and others that I met during my evening walks at the shopping malls. Then, one day, I overheard them talking to each other that I was probably not of sound mind. I spoke with the male colleague about my love for him, and he laughed at me. I felt so hurt, I resigned the next day.”
“Thank you for sharing something so personal to you. It helps me understand the strain you were under at the time. Peggy, do you still hear that voice who told you to give gold away?”
“Yes. Borrow money and give more gold away. Your colleague will change his mind,” Peggy replied confidently.
“Peggy, it has been over two months since you resigned from that company. It seems unlikely he would contact you,” I reasoned with her.
A further diagnostic interview confirmed that Peggy had a mental breakdown, triggered by a period of emotional instability that resulted from her infatuation with her male colleague. She was referred for further psychiatric consultation and was prescribed antipsychotic medication. Although she was a diligent patient in learning new skills in coping with her lower stress threshold, Peggy did not fully recover from her first psychosis episode. After nine months, her condition stabilised, and she was put on a maintenance dose. She was subsequently able to take on part-time non-stressful work.