The Samurai Bodyguard

The Samurai Bodyguard.

Able was in his mid-20s and in his final year at the university. He was an above average computer science major, but was a loner, with hardly any close friends among his own cohort. Coming from a single parent household, he financed himself through his studies by taking on a job as a security personnel at a premier nightclub four evenings a week. Able presented himself for counselling, as his self-awareness alerted him to his own unusual predicament both in thoughts and behaviour.

He was sensitive to his own pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits, invariably feeling acutely discomforted and unable to develop close relationships. The ensuing resulted in his isolating himself from others. He said that any invitations to social events from friends and classmates automatically made him very tense and a loss of confidence in himself. He confessed that he had difficulty empathising with others and found himself unable to articulate normally. He was sometimes shocked that his interpretation of events, opinions, and issues differ so widely from those of his other tutorial classmates, often singling him as the odd one out; the feedback to him was his ideas and responses were bizarre and bordered on fantasy. I found myself continually clarifying his unusual speech paradigm – it was vague, metaphorical, discursive, with idiosyncratic phrasing and construction.

Able also found himself allocating meanings and nuances to casual events, and it would not be too extreme for him to occasionally consider himself to be in possession of some magical powers or invisible ability to influence someone’s thoughts. His interest and knowledge in the paranormal was exceptional. These flights of fancy happen mostly during times when he was alone or when he was on duty at the nightclub. He said that whenever he was assigned as a bouncer to an important guest, he would habitually imagine himself to be in possession of a Samurai sword, sheathed by his side, as he went about his duties. And he would play act in his mind what he would do in protecting his client, attacking and cutting up someone who would threaten them. He was so convicted of the reality of his sword that he was able to describe it to me in colourful detail. He also demonstrated how he would wield it in sword-play. In fact, he found his job at the nightclub, which required minimal socialising, the most enjoyable and exhilarating, compared to his studies and other collegial activities.

Several times through these history-taking sessions, I would enquire about how he felt, but he would not be able to describe his affect to me, looking at me quizzically as though being able to experience feelings was a strange phenomenon. I walked Able through several psychological tests, ranging from the DSM-IV Axis II from SCID II (the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition for Personality Disorders), social anxiety, and exploring his range of affect. Able’s mother has had several bouts of depression. His younger sister was suffering from schizophrenia, and was unable to work. He was suffering from a schizotypal personality.