My name is Harry Potemkin, and I am a black market oneirologist. The field of study—oneirology—is just a tiny stub on the tree of psychiatry, which suits us just fine. Our work is too sublime and too strange for mainstream journal publication. Not to mention the outrage our psychopharmacological methods would incite.
I used to be a licensed therapist, not a full Doctor of Psychiatry, but licensed enough to have an office, a couch, and be able to tell my patients that their time was up just as they were about to reach a critical psychological breakthrough. That was part of my frustration too, by the way: the intrusion of time and society into the healing process.
I wanted to help people, and I started by helping myself. Do you know the difference between a psychonaut and an oneironaut? The psychonaut studies himself. The oneironaut . . . well, it wouldn't do to admit to you that I experiment with the dreams of others, would it? Such an admission would certainly stain my credibility.
Yes, dreams. I am able to actively participate in the dreams of my patients, and for that reason alone, I am a last resort. Those who are so traumatized that regular therapeutic methods have failed them, they come to me. The mentally broken, the fragmentary psychotics, the schizophrenics who fear discovery: their desperation pushes them to my door, pushes them to consider my methods. I invade their dreams and cut out what is hurting them. The oneironaut—the difference between -ologist and -naut is a fine one, do you see?—is a psychiatrist of the unconscious, a surgeon of the ego's shadow. My methods work when all of the accredited and accepted methods fail.
This is not idle posturing. I am very good at what I do. I tell you this so that you understand the depth of my desperation, that you accept me as a professional and not as a crackpot. I am not someone who has built a career out of conning the desperate, nor am I disguising my own mania with a veneer of respectability and whiff of daring experimentalism. I am a healer, albeit the most unorthodox one you will ever meet.
And yet, the question which you still have and which has begun to frighten me as well is this: how does the healer know he is well? How does the mental health professional know he is sane?
There is something in my dreams that is not mine. It hides from me, but I have mapped my own psychic landscape well enough to know there is a camouflaged parasite within my psyche. Counter to the prime tenets of every oneirologist's methodology, I have begun to keep a dream journal. It is dangerous to write down one's dreams, it gives them strength and a hook into reality. But I must. I must discover the source of the dis-ease that I know is within me.