Expect the expected. Bad shit happened. Dolores was forced to resign. Too many personal problems got in the way of her being able to properly perform her duties. A spanking new supervisor synchronously arrived as Dolores departed. Aside from Do, Dorothy was farther from Dolores than Kansas is from OZ. Dorothy, a Jewish American Princess (JAP) of the mental illness world, looked a lot better than she was. In her mid-thirties, she was petite, pretty, and shapely. Her personality was hard, cold, and phony. She was instantly disliked by patients and staff but had no clue how anyone felt. Most of us smiled to her face, turned away, made weird faces, or stuck a finger down our throats… a sadly laughable situation.
I felt nauseous as I wondered if Dorothy’s sucrose smile and pasty complexion resulted from too much institutional food and florescent lighting. Dorothy was spiteful, contrary, and a stickler for rules and regulations. She was angry that she hadn’t made it to the top of the trash heap yet. She had also failed after many attempts at getting pregnant. ‘Thank god’, I mused. Dorothy might actually be a mother of an anti-Christ. As I got to know her, I began seeing her as a festering canker sore from hell. She sabotaged patient progress and undermined my success at promoting class participation. I hated her.
One day after work we drove away from the employee parking lot at the same time. I followed her onto the Styx River Parkway heading south on Purgatory’s east side. High speed traffic wove perilous webs of chaos betwixt lanes. I imagined myself as Mel Gibson’s Road Warrior and tailgated Dorothy within inches. I’d surely have rear ended her had she braked, but I was confident she’d stay cool.
Glancing nervously in her rear-view mirror, Dorothy wondered what I’d do next. I’d pull up beside her, smile, and drop back on her tail again. That was the beginning of the end of my time working at the hospital and of my letting go of undying idealism and optimism. I decided I wasn’t going to let anyone get away with anything. I felt protected by the Public Service Union. It’s not easy to get rid of anyone who doesn’t want to leave. You have to make a person so miserable that they choose to leave. I returned to work the following week.
Dorothy acted as though nothing had happened. She used the rules to attempt to force me to quit. She hit me hardest in my most vulnerable spot. My desire to work with high functioning patients had been my primary goal since I’d arrived. Dorothy insisted I must devote myself to serving the whole patient population. The Cabinet knew Dorothy was an asshole. They were deaf to my argument that the obvious lack of meaningful programming for the dozen highest functioning patients needed addressing. I’d built trust with this group and made considerable progress. My other argument was that my salary was less than two percent of what those twelve patients were costing the state yearly. What a fabulous investment!
I began flooding Dorothy with memos justifying my self-created career. I copied Zandor, rehab counselor, the cabinet, and the big wigs in Central Mental Health Care in Purgatory. My public relations strategy to save myself was poorly received. Aside from the fact that no one but me was willing to take responsibility, I was kicking the cabinet below the belt by confronting them.
Dorothy countered with an attack on my schedule. She insisted I work three days instead of two. She chose days when she knew I had other teaching jobs and personal business. I tried to compromise, but could clearly see my efforts and circumstances were becoming futile.
“Perhaps you are too creative for the rehab department”, Dorothy told me. “There’s no room for your pioneering spirit”. I was soon summoned to the hospital director’s office for a private conference. She wanted to discuss my dissatisfaction with Dorothy’s supervisory actions, a pretense to warn me that I had better keep hospital business within the hospital. I clenched my teeth and fists and readied myself for battle. The head of rehab for the entire underworld had told me that our hospital was not permitted by law to operate a sheltered workshop under the plan the cabinet had previously encouraged and approved. They’d scammed everyone to enhance next year’s budget.
For several months, Dorothy continued to be abusive and oblivious to my needs and the needs and concerns of staff and patients. She pulled rank on everyone as often as she could. Not only did we feel unappreciated, we were degraded and looked down upon. Every member of the rehab staff was eventually forced to resign. Though I was there the least, I held out the longest. Dorothy had been mandated to clean house. The hidden agenda was obvious. I wrote the following letter of resignation.
It saddens me to be writing this, but I’ve been given no choice. Dorothy was mandated to clean house and fulfill your hidden agenda. This may sound paranoid, but Dorothy has forced every dedicated staff member to leave. Everyone was aware of Dorothy’s physical handicaps and personal problems. We tried to empathize and made allowances for negative attitudes, but that’s no excuse for her complete lack of caring and support. Dorothy has been oblivious to the needs and concerns of her staff and the needs and concerns of patients.
It’s ironic to say that your staff felt underappreciated. They felt degraded and harassed as Dorothy relentlessly made counterproductive and unreasonable demands. She attempted to delegate her responsibilities to Zandor, who received a counseling memo when he objected to doing out of title work. Billy (the other half of my position) received a counseling memo for his generosity in rewarding the dedicated and hardworking maintenance staff a ‘THANK YOU! ‘ Plaque that he paid for himself. They graciously helped us set up the woodworking shop.
Enclosed is a copy of my latest correspondence with Dorothy. Her response was that I’m “too creative” for a rehab department that has “no room for my pioneering spirit”. She insisted I must change my schedule to a Monday or Friday, knowing these days conflict with my other work. She threatened to assign me tasks which clearly don’t use my obvious abilities to their advantage. I’m still waiting for a work evaluation that was due weeks ago.
I’m no longer concerned with the future of my career. I’m concerned about the future of the patients. They’ve been deprived of caring and capable staff members including Dolores, Bruce, Barbara, Billy, Maya, Carolyn, and Zandor. I plan to expose your cruel injustice and confirm your complicity in Dorothy’s horrible behavior and bad management practices.
I sent copies to Dorothy, the cabinet, and other department managers around the hospital. Cabinet members were hostile as they interrogated me behind closed doors. They were on the offensive and squirming in their seats as they attempted to put me on the defensive. They all agreed I was projecting my unresolved conflicts with my mother onto Dorothy. They suggested I seek psychiatric help for my problem. I said I was planning to write a (this) book about my experience and approach the media. They told me they’d find a way to ruin me.
I found my “I don’t get mad, I get even” button and pinned it next to my “Since I gave up hope, I feel much better” button on the lapel of my jacket. I couldn’t believe I’d let down the patients who I’d so eagerly promised to help and champion. Gene’s prophecy had come true. I’d disappear and never see anyone again. I had strengthened everyone’s fear and distrust of everyone’s everything all the time.
There were only two patients in the art room. One was warily tucked in a corner, the other was a pretty twenty something African-American woman quietly cutting colored paper with a child’s scissors. I gently mused out loud. “You look healthy and normal. Why are you here?”
“My psychiatrist tells me it’s because I feel no remorse for what I did.”
“What did you do?”
“I killed my roommate”. I chopped her up in the bathtub and flushed as much of her as I could down the toilet. The rest of her I put in black plastic garbage bags that I tossed in a dumpster.”
“Did you think you would get away with that?”
“I didn’t think at all. I got the idea from TV.”
“And you don’t feel badly about what you did?”
“The girl is dead. There’s nothing I can do about that!” “I guess I’m sorry for her family”.
Mary grew up in a verbally abusive emotionally constipated family with no privacy. When Mary left home, she applied for a single room at college and was forced to have a roommate. Enduring a year, Mary reapplied, and lost the room to her roommate. Completely losing control of her mind and heart while stuck in a state of rage, Mary eliminated her problem.
Many strange stories unfolded over the next several months in the art room. Every day promised new adventure. I was glad I’d survived the bog of bureaucratic bullshit. I was yearning to examine everyone’s hands, but decided to wait. I anticipated astonishing tales of intrigue and amazing artworks. Many patients had artistic talent. There were two professional artists in the group. I supported everyone’s creativity and acquired special materials and supplies above and beyond my call of duty.
The first patient I bonded with was a refined and cultivated woman in her mid to late fifties. Bizarre circumstances led to Betsy’s hapless and senseless captivity. She lived on Treasure Island, a wealthy seaside community. Betsy managed an art gallery and was gossip columnist for a local newspaper. She loved to garden and was a member of a local gardening club.
A lawyer of considerable power purchased the land adjoining Betsy’s and neglected it. Weeds and branches drooped and draped sloppily onto Betsy’s property. Her neighbor‘s obvious dislike of landscaping and disdain for his neighbors annoyed the hell out of Betsy. One very vexing afternoon, she verbally threatened to chop off everything extending onto her domain. Grabbing her ax, she angrily severed every limb over her property line. While quietly recuperating on her porch, Betsy became alarmed and frightened when police in plain clothes marched aggressively through the gate of her yard.
Betsy grabbed her ax, attempting to chase them away. The next thing she knew, Betsy was sedated in a psychiatric hospital for further evaluation. Her neighbor had pulled strings and managed to have her temporarily committed. Then her serious problems began. Because Betsy was so agitated, Thorazine was prescribed, mandated, and administered. Betsy had a bad reaction to Thorazine. She was rushed to a local hospital. Her spleen had to be removed.
Betsy was no criminal. Nor was she crazy. She had great character references. Her son, a successful architect, pleaded fervently for her release, but no one appeared able to help her. A series of unfortunate events had led to her getting caught up in ‘The System’. Betsy’s attitude remained positive and optimistic while her mental and physical health deteriorated. She lost three productive years of her life. The lawyer tried to acquire Betsy’s property while she was locked up, but her son successfully blocked him.
Everyone admired Betsy. I was self-appointed president of her fan club. She could draw, paint, sculpt, and write better than anyone. She won several patient art awards. She was a positive role model. As editor and illustrator for the patient newspaper, The Scene. Betsy also created signage for hospital activities and events. I got special permissions for her creative seamstress work and purchased (my $) supplies like needles, threads, and unique fabrics.
Betsy designed stuffed insects. She called them ‘love bugs’. Sewing and sowing the seeds of success in my mind, Betsy inspired me to imagine a patient run cottage industry within the confines of hospital life that would serve other sheltered workshops in social and medical worlds. We could be a source for products, design, and marketing.
I got braver each day as I investigated patients’ lives. I couldn’t divulge my appetite for wanting to know more, but I did look as closely as I could at their records, hands, and gestures. I printed crude hands using newsprint paper with poster paint. I assumed madness would be revealed in aberrations of hand morphology and topography. There were many unusual hands. I saw a lot of frustration, anger, and fear, along with an uncanny clarity or lack of clarity in thinking. Many souls saw only one solution to their problem, never considering the consequences. Invoking hindsight enables most folk to harness our strengths, mindsets, attitudes, and actions, and embrace whatever challenges we encounter on the path to becoming healthier and happier.
Repressed rage, confused minds, and constipated emotions rule mental illness. I’d never have predicted from the hands that I read, that most of these people would be committed to mental institutions. Many patients lacked peripheral lines. They were less neurotic than the wounded healers with highly developed superegos and many more peripheral lines who were paid to care for them.
I only saw one club (murderer’s) thumb in the patient population. I expected to see many more Mr. Hydes, motivated by passion, lacking impulse control, and having a propensity for violence. I didn’t. Other hands were soft and supple. Sometimes their bones felt detached. There was zero energy, enthusiasm, or desire to think clearly or do anything meaningful. I observed one psychotic person’s skin as appearing splotchy purplish red. I imagined the color combo was repressed rage. Many hands were stiff in the joints, preventing the lost souls trapped in limbo between their inside and outside from escaping. I examined schizophrenic hands with two sets of head or heart lines in dominant hands that were ambiguous, ambivalent, suffering, struggling, and striving to know themselves and others.
Betsy and I loved the symbolism of the Tarot. We consulted the cards many times with many questions. We rarely heard what we wanted to hear, but always heard what we already knew. I collected birth names, dates, times, and places from patients, but didn’t explain why.
Most artwork and poetry in The Scene came from the art room. The patient newspaper was a venue for creative expression for patients and staff. It offered hospital news and provided space for patients to express their concerns and share their creativity. It was an important venue because it provided an outlet for frustration, anger, and depression. Everyone spent too much time complaining and blaming their problems on ‘The System’ and each other.
I decided to become a spiritual ambassador and good sense maker. The real enemies were our bad habits, bureaucracy, and time. We were a team whether we chose ‘to be or not to be’.
One notorious patient infected my psyche with doubt. He was a young black man in his early thirties. Fred had been mentally, emotionally, and physically malnourished via many abusive foster parents. A gentle kindness lie beneath the surface of Fred’s deeply scarred face. Fred was violent, but it wasn’t knife fights and gang warfare that got him locked up. It was Fred’s unrequited love. Fred was obsessed with a teenage girl. Allegedly, she was ‘taken away from him’ by an `abusive maniac’. Fred created realistic ‘WANTED DEAD or ALIVE’ posters of his maniac. He posted them all over town, offering a phony ten thousand dollar reward for him. Fred had no clue he was creating evidence that would lead him directly to the loony bin.
Fred’s large feminine hands, rectangular palms, long slender knotty fingers, and conical fingertips embody the quintessential ‘feeling’ type: great for empathy, appreciating art, research, organizing, paying attention to detail, and mostly for caring. Fred’s long head line sloped into the heel of his hand, revealing a vivid imagination and rich fantasy life. Fred could copy anything perfectly. He could have been a master forger, but that particular crime would never have occurred to him. I cheered Fred’s abilities and encouraged him to draw from real life. I also convinced his treatment team and security on his ward to let him have pencils and paper and allow him to draw under supervision.
Fred had a private sketch book. He produced forty or fifty sketches and drawings in the first month and showed no one. I asked to see them. Reluctantly, he showed them to me. I was blown away. The political parody above was his first. That’s Ronald Reagan and its meaning is self-explanatory. What stunned me most were caricatures of staff sexually abusing patients. Patients were pleasuring staff in the sickest possible ways. Were security, therapists, and patients actually having bizarre sex acts using objects of pleasure and pain or was Fred’s vision an artistic fabrication of his unique psyche?
How could Fred have witnessed what he was portraying? He had a graphic imagination. Maybe his friends were telling him their stories and he was interpreting them. Fred let me photocopy a few drawings. I wondered about the veracity of Fred’s artwork and shared it with Dolores. She showed it to the cabinet. Betraying Fred’s trust was my greatest blunder and regret. Fred fought fiercely as his drawings and supplies were confiscated. It wrenched my heart to watch him being reduced to a drug induced stupor, artistic genius, never to create (during my tenure) again. I was responsible and couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Mary 2 was a highly functioning, extremely troubled patient. Mary believed she was Satan’s child, a bad seed. Mary was three when she first unsuccessfully attempted to poison her little sister. Then she failed to drown her in the bathtub. She tied her to a tree in a lightning storm, hoping she’d be electrocuted. Finally, Mary’s dysfunctional fundamentalist Catholic parents enrolled her in a devout Catholic school. They hoped that would save her. Mary predictably became more twisted. At sixteen, Mary set a nun on fire and carved her charring body to a bloody pulp with a broken glass bottle. She told everyone, “The Devil made me do it”.
Mary produced dark artwork. I coveted and appropriated her drawings every chance I got. While under suicide watch in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital, Mary etched `666′ in the skin of her arms and legs with whatever sharp objects she could find. She also scratched ‘666’ on furniture.
I don’t frequently see hands that frighten me. Mary’s hands were scary. The creepy hand above with very stiff fingers that curl inwardly belong to Susan Atkins’ (Charles Manson’s protege’). They’re similar to Mary’s. Mary’s skin was hard, dry, coarse, and reddish. She chewed on her nails relentlessly, leaving her nail beds red, raw, and sore. Mary transformed self-critical into self-hatred. I wished I could help her let go of irrational terror. Mary’s soul was hard-boiled from the hellish reality of growing up with hypocritical parents, along with fundamentalist codes, irrational doctrines, punitive rules, and restrictive regulations.
Mary had a huge crush on me. She was the first to arrive at the art room and last to leave. I felt nauseous when I was alone with her. I was repulsed, but always smiled and acted nice. Mary generously offered to give me a quickie blow-job under my desk. I remembered Fred’s drawings and how easy it would be to become one of his vignettes. I thought about all of the Ministers and Priests, religious shepherds, who physically and spiritually rape the innocent lambs they are entrusted to protect. Does terror, shame, guilt, and disgrace trigger erotic fantasy? Is fear of being caught a turn on? Can the Devil sow the seeds of evil in a psyche?
Mary was hovering over me and monopolizing my attention. I was abrupt and impatient with her. Dark rings appeared around her darkening eyes. Mary felt rejected. Satan was hard at work, preparing her for evil acts that night on her ward. It was a full moon. Stealing the ‘six’ and ‘nine’ balls from the pool table, Mary loaded them in a black wool sock, then beat a new patient to death while she slept. The poor woman was there for shoplifting, a few days of observation, and psychiatric evaluation. Mary said she didn’t like the way the woman looked at her. She’d certainly think twice before shoplifting again had she survived. I felt guilty and responsible. I should have said something. Staff should have been more vigilant. Mental institutions aren’t called lunatic asylums for nothing.
It’s not what you do, but what you get away with that matters. Gene was undeniably the most incredible artist in the hospital. He’d been a successful commercial artist and advertising executive. Scuttlebutt was that he created the TV ads that everyone loves to remember.
Gene was unique. A celebrity on his ward, he had the only private room, outfitted with his own furniture, library, audio tape collection, state of art stereo system, Bose headphones, and grizzly bear rug.
No one messed with Gene. Dark satanic auras shrouded Gene. Angry facial expressions and aggressive body language told a tale of uncontrollable rage from a horrible childhood. Gene was hostile. Everything about him screamed, “Stay away from me!” In a jealous fury and fit of rage, Gene slit his girlfriend’s throat from ear to ear. She survived, didn’t press charges, and forgave him. Gene couldn’t forgive himself. He told me had to stay because he’d do it again.
Gene could have been free had he wanted to be and behaved accordingly. I tried to make good sense to Gene and convince him to become an active member of the real world again. Gene wanted to stay. With little interest in worldly freedom, he was free to love his literature, music, art, and still be king of the roost. I actually felt a little jealous of his inner freedom.
Gene was charismatic in a dark and dangerous way. He was the patient Dolores caught in the art supply closet with Janice. That untimely final exit for Janice turned out to be wonderful therapy for Gene. We frequently had philosophical discussions and co-created artworks that I still cherish. This life size pastel Gene drew of me in the art-room subtly captures a very private part of me.
Benny was Gene’s buddy. Benny was uncooperative. A strong fit black man in his early thirties, Benny’s phobia of homosexuality impelled the former transit policeman to assault a bar full of gay men one night with a semi-automatic weapon. While freebasing crack, Benny brutally slaughtered eight gay men.
Benny came up bi-yearly for forensic review. He believed he’d be set free one day, but was always rejected. One psychologist told me that a ‘secret agenda’ was to never ever let him go or know. It was in everyone’s best interest to humor Benny. Otherwise, he’d lose hope, become violent, and need to be permanently medicated.
There was never a dull day in the art room. One handsome young patient, recently admitted, had cut his mother’s heart out, artfully prepared, and hungrily ate it with her favorite knife and fork on her favorite plate while drinking her favorite wine and reclining in her favorite chair.
Another man was found combing his mother’s hair on her mantel, weeks after he had cut her head off. The entire hospital was full of lunatics and addicts who committed violent acts under the influences of bad circumstances, rage, or drugs. Schizophrenics, sociopaths, psychotics, and pathological liars flourished and blossomed. One sociopath from England had a Rolls Royce delivered to the hospital entrance based on conversations he had with a dealer from a pay phone in the hall of his ward. If only I could put everyone’s amazing talents to good use…
Jesus Jefferson was the angriest patient in the hospital. Rejected countless times by forensic committees, Jesus had nothing left to lose. Everyone steered clear of him. Jesus had thrown his girlfriend, her 3 year old child, and dog from a 17th story window. They died instantly as they hit the ground. Jesus had zero remorse and never spoke of the incident. He clearly needed to be locked up, but what of his other innate talents and abilities. I envisioned Jesus as a capable production manager in a patient run manufacturing business. I shared my idea with two staff psychologists and they agreed with me. Unfortunately, Jesus was too unpredictable and angry to be given any real opportunity to take real responsibility.
Names have meaning. Many people who end up in loony bins are named after biblical figures. Jesus, Mary, Faith, Angel, Grace, and Hope haunt wards at mental institutions everywhere. Whatever their parents had hoped, wanted, or expected… something else weird and perverted happened. My parody below represents my interpretation of present-day archetypal names.
After six to eight working days, I’d met most of the patients. There were five men’s wards and one women’s ward. The wards traveled around the hospital escorted by SHTA’s. One, two, or three wards at a time would meet in the rehab department for recreational/religious services. Many patients found religion while incarcerated. Evangelists, fundamentalists, and self-styled ministers attended every service, along with agnostics, atheists, and heretics. I counted four Jewish patients in the mix. Jewish services were most ludicrous of all. Patients of every shape, size, color, and religious denomination wore yarmulkes (skullcaps) and pretended to chant pigeon Hebrew. For attending religious services, patients received extra rewards such as cigarettes, tea bags, and candy. They also hoped to earn a few brownie points with God and the Forensic Committee when they came up for evaluation.
The next several months were both enlightening and frustrating. It was obvious I needed more clinical training specific to a forensic population. I reached from the Rehab department to make allies on the treatment teams and in the cabinet. Unfortunately, protocol and position are guidelines in public service. If you go directly to someone outside of your department on your own initiative, it can be misconstrued as a breach of faith or as a failure on the part of your supervisor to control her staff. Employees generate truckloads of surplus paperwork and ask permission for everything in writing. Dolores was reprimanded. I felt dejected.
My initial impression of patients was that they were generally dull and apathetic, motivated by bribery or extortion. Cigarettes (nicotine), candy (sugar), tea bags (caffeine), and little packets of Sanka rewarded good behaviors. I believed they were ultimately harmful and destructive. Extortion was punishment for bad behaviors. Having no rewards, no activities, temporary isolation, or mandatory drug treatments is really `Pavlov 101′ in practice.
There were two types of patients. Nearly all had committed acts of violence. Some were there for psychiatric evaluation. Others were assigned for long term care by the court system because they were unfit to stand trial or too mentally and emotionally disturbed to be in a normal prison setting. There were several mass murderers and serial killers. You’d never know it as they appeared meek, apathetic, and ordinary. As they grew to trust me, they revealed hopes, dreams, fears, and tales of intrigue and horror.
I was steadily earning the trust and respect of the rehab staff. I’d read Dolores’s hands. Within a month, I was asked by other staff members to share my insights and observations about them. The rehab staff was caring and well meaning. I observed unhealthy doses of neurosis combined with fear, paranoia, and overdeveloped senses of responsibility, obligation, and guilt. Public service feels thankless and hopeless to many of the staff. I tried to be constructive, helpful, and leave everyone feeling hopeful.
I suggested to Dolores that she practice saying “NO”. I advised Zandor not to react negatively to criticism, even if it’s personal. I nagged Billy (Skinny) to lighten up and see reality as it is and not how he wants it to be. I encouraged Luscious Lips to let go of his guilt, cultivate good habits (like controlling his indulgences), and begin to schedule activities to look forward to in his life. I applauded Barbara’s ability to maintain clear boundaries and thanked her for her honesty with herself and everyone else. I cheered Maya’s energy and enthusiasm. I let her know I supported whatever she wanted for herself. I wanted Janice to clearly see and express herself creatively.
My reputation as a hand analyst spread quickly. Soon, I was in the hospital director’s office reading her hands. Dr. Helga presented a caring and friendly demeanor, but after examining her hands for a couple of minutes, I was positive it was an act. She had the stiffest hands and fingers I’d ever felt, inwardly curving pinkie fingers, and a clear simian line in her dominant hand. Knotty fingers and long index fingers were well suited for a detail-oriented directorship. Helga’s father had been a German SS or gestapo who ran a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. There was no place for emotion in Helga’s formative years. She was calculating, ambitious, and couldn’t tolerate disobedience. She ordered me to never discuss what I saw with anyone and told me in no uncertain terms to stay away from patient hands. I gained insight into the cabinet by reading several members directly and by carefully listening and observing body language at meetings and in casual exchanges without permission.
It took six months to learn the ropes while generating and accumulating huge masses of paperwork and proposals. I was ready to present my syllabus for prevocational classes to the cabinet when the hand of fate unexpectedly intervened. A quirky thing happened. Dolores accidentally caught Janice, the art therapist, in the art supply closet with her skirt up around her ears. She was dispensing her own personal form of emotional and physical therapy to one of the male patients. Janice was fired instantly.
Janice had self-destructed. I’d lucked out. There was no art therapist. I was the only staff member qualified to fill in until another was hired. I knew about art. I didn’t know the first thing about art therapy or forensic psychology. That didn’t seem to faze anybody. I was thrilled to put everything aside to be the new substitute art therapist. I’d finally get to meet patients. Nearly all the patients frequented the art room. It was a chance to play with art materials and express themselves creatively. They could sculpt with clay, draw and paint, make collages, write poetry, and play music. I’d examine their hands, astrology, and experiment with tarot on them. This was an important lesson in human nature and my nature that I’ll never forget.
The art room was small and private (14’X 14′). I was happy about that because in addition to having the potential for intimacy, I was required to inventory every pencil, crayon, scissor, and even staple. These were all considered potentially dangerous weapons. Everything in Rehab was either bolted down or fastened together with special screws and nuts that required special tools to unfasten. Every precaution was taken to protect us from patients and patients from each other and themselves.
One very crazy patient who seriously creeped me out was James. After James’s mother would visit him, staff would find him mutilating his genitals with a paperclip, staple, or whatever he could find that caused damage. James eventually died of AIDS after repeatedly letting other male patients have their way with him sexually. I stayed away from James’s hands, but I do remember ugly brown tobacco stains between the tips of his index and middle fingers from letting cigarettes burn to ash without taking a puff.
I was cautious around patients. I tried to be helpful. I spoke little except when spoken to. I’d sometimes sketch patients. They saw me drawing and sculpting and began asking for artistic advice. I happily provided tips and tricks. It took over six months to locate a new art therapist. During this time, I’d meet a dozen patients who would influence my destiny.
Stay tuned to meet the patients…
Author’s note: If you’ve read the first episode of ‘How I lost my Sanity’, you know my writing is a combo of fact and fiction. Using the same voice as my non-fiction writing may create some confusion. I break rules of grammar and syntax. A generous helping of political and social incorrectness sheds darkness on my protagonist. Made up names and characters from movies parody and give faces to characters in my story. If you have any thoughts, ideas, feelings, suggestions, advice, or whatever about my writing and story, feel free to comment.
“The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding.” Hermes
This is a tale of how I tempted fate and lost my sanity. You may think you know your dark side, or you may know someone who has been devoured by theirs, but until you’ve been seduced into madness, breached your sacred boundaries, and tasted the forbidden fruit; you won’t experience the boundless breadths and desperate depths of darkness in your psyche along with the stark realization that you can’t turn back.
Black and white are metaphors for oppositions that fuel our awareness and allegories that guide us between our whitest whites and blackest blacks. Love and hate are extremes of the same basic substance. Like and dislike are varying degrees of gray between black and white. If insanity is black and sanity is white, where does happiness end and misery begin? When does pleasure stop and pain begin?
As a life-long student of craziness, I coveted the opportunity to serve criminally insane people. I might never get another chance. Back in college, I studied Industrial Design. I minored in bizarre psycho-ideologies and isms. As an active member of a twice weekly study group at a Gestalt psychology institute for two years, I whetted my appetite for more knowledge and understanding of human behavior. I finally had a real chance to explore authentic craziness incarnate.
Criminal minds fascinated me. I learned from my study of astrology that each of twelve sun signs has its own unique criminal style. Take this with a grain of salt, but here are a few gross generalizations. Gemini / Mercury rules con artists and pickpockets. Taurus / Venus commits sex crimes and breaches of trust from petty theft to grand larceny. Aries / Mars loves warfare and commit crimes of passion. Sagittarius / Jupiter wears white collars. Capricorn / Saturn rules master criminals. Aquarius / Uranus rules arsonists, terrorists, and unexpected bad shit happening. Pisces / Neptune rules drug dealers and users. Scorpio / Pluto rules seduction, rape, murder, and betrayal. Pluto lustily awaits you at your final destination.
Our outer planetary pictures provide a karmic backdrop for past and future generations of actors and actresses striving to learn their roles. Life is a play of plays. Unconscious creates drama. Subconscious directs plot. Consciousness is stage manager. Sun enlightens. Moon reflects. Mercury connects. Venus senses. Mars energizes. Jupiter expands. Saturn limits. Uranus disrupts, Neptune dissolves, and Pluto destroys. ‘God’ is Master Playwright.
Before proceeding with my vocational classes, I need to regress and provide background material for my year of preparation preceding my choice to teach classes. It may take a couple of posts, but I promise you’ll be glad I did.
I entered the hospital from my first day through guarded locked doors, metal detectors, a bag inspection station, faded institutional beige paint, and buzzing fluorescent lights like parasites that sucked my vital essences. Hospital staff appeared to be the dregs of humanity’s helpers. Most had physical handicaps like limping, scarring, splotching, or gazing in hopeless desperation with myopic eyes. I hoped it wasn’t contagious. I had easy access to patient records and treatment plans. I could attend treatment team meetings with psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. It felt too good to be true and it was.
Forensic hospital life is about rules, regulations, and self-defense. There are many more don’ts than do’s. Employees are sworn to secrecy, fingerprinted, and instilled with awkward feelings of mistrust. Orientation had been designed to help new staff members understand the organizational goals, policies, and procedures affecting job safety, security, performance, and delivery of care. We filled out a lot of questionnaires, surveys, and evaluations. We were briefed on the nature, structure, and policies of the facility. We learned about patient rights and privileges, rights and privileges of staff, and hospital policy.
The largest portion of hospital staff were security called SHTA’s. They accompanied patients to every activity. I attended life safety training with them: CPR, First-Aid, and Management of Violent Patient Behavior (MVPB). A violent person could `go off’ and all we could do was to defend ourselves. We weren’t permitted to be aggressive. We were taught Judo style moves by serious martial artists and laughed heartily as we fell, flipped each other on gym mats, and got to know each other. We were encouraged to nickname one another to help us connect. Based on obvious personal peculiarities our nicknames stuck. There was `Skinny’, `Luscious Lips’, `Gigolo’, and `Tortoise’. I was `Smiley’. Forever after, we addressed each other by our nicknames.
Fighting with patients was a scary idea. Despite my comprehensive training in self-defense, I envisioned myself grabbing the nearest chair and clobbering a violent patient over the head in a crisis. I’d be instantly fired and then indicted on criminal charges. Fortunately for everyone, most of the furniture was anchored to the floor or walls with specially designed hardware to prevent that kind of violence.
When I wasn’t watching over my shoulder for violent patients, I was cautioned to be on the lookout for ‘bacterial pathogens’ which cause disease. A lot of patients have hygiene problems and are unhealthy. Samplings are taken regularly from surfaces around the hospital in order to monitor disease. There were patients with AIDS. In 1986, that was scary! What if a patient with AIDS bit a staff member? We were briefed extensively on care and prevention. This job began to seem more than a little risky.
When I first met the patients, they appeared to be the most motley crew nature had ever assembled. They looked like R. Crumb characters. Many had deranged eyes. They were so whacky that I felt like laughing. Some had been given massive doses of thorazine. I couldn’t wait to find out who had done what. I’d heard there were a few notorious celebrities in the mix.
I was given a photo I.D. (I had to wear it at all times) and keys for areas I had access to within the hospital. Keys were given upon entering the hospital and deposited before leaving. Patients observed me with random glimpses, furtive glances, and glaring gazes. They saw me as one more ‘keeper of the keys’ who was attempting to figure them out, discipline, rehabilitate, or fix them. One thing for sure, I wasn’t one of them (yet).
I was directed to sit in on patient activities, assist rehab staff, and familiarize myself with patients. The first few days were uneventful. Important goals were getting the patients to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and to try not to be generally disgusting. Another important goal was to get them to stay awake and participate in activities such as art, music, education classes, and exercise. There were no interesting conversations yet.
The rehab staff consisted of nine members. As Director of Rehab, Dolores was beaten down by too many years in state service. Her sad name complemented her careworn face. A telltale twitch made me wonder whether she was smiling or frowning. Her unhealthy-looking teeth were yellowed from too many cigarettes and too much coffee. A deep raspy voice coughed her words. I was concerned she was ineffective. I was right. Dolores was caring but couldn’t say ‘no’ to anyone. She promised me full health benefits and then let me serve my half-time position by working two ten-hour days while the hospital’s needs would have been better served if my time were spread over three days.
Respiratory, pulmonary, and circulatory health problems could be seen in her bulbous whitish nails. Her square palms and short square fingers revealed a practical nature, while her dry, reddish, dishpan skin had weathered many storms that seemed to endlessly arrive from every direction. Despite our differences, Dolores and I liked each other.
My `other half’ was a furniture maker and restorer named Billy (Skinny). Billy was tall, thin, and bony. He looked like a scruffy middle-aged Abraham Lincoln. Billy was one of the hardest working, enthusiastic, and idealistic persons I’d ever met. Like me, he’d never had ‘a job’. An eccentric renegade from societal rules and regulations, Billy maintained a furniture restoration and refinishing business on the side. Like me, Billy had a hidden agenda. His was unselfish and equally unrealistic. He believed that he could actually rehabilitate lunatics and transform them into functioning members of society.
Billy’s ‘feeling hands’ had rectangular palms and long fingers. A hardness and stiffness ruled his fingers, and knotty joints enhanced his compulsive need to control his physical and mental life. His especially long middle fingers bent towards the top of his ring fingers. Billy had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, obligation, and guilt. An oversensitive perfectionist, Billy spent endless hours thinking about the best thing to do next.
Billy and I tried to set mutual goals, but my hidden agenda clashed with his righteous cause. Billy wanted to turn patients into furniture restorers. I wanted to help, but I wanted private time with them. Billy committed to creating a sheltered wood working shop. I chose to offer design classes to higher functioning patients. I’d also help Billy set up a workshop that would serve the entire patient population.
The Rehab staff was a smorgasbord of affirmative action. Zandor was Estonian. He was a rehabilitation counselor and second in command. Zandor should have had Dolores’s job, but upper management didn’t want a person they couldn’t control in that position. Zandor’s ‘thinking hands’ correspond to his strong handshake, firm elastic skin, long straight fingers, square fingertips, and open and frank nails. Zandor had also been abused by too many years in state service, but it didn’t break him. He had grievances pending against the Public Employees Union for obvious discrimination against him. Despite unfavorable circumstances, Zandor always presented himself with pride, integrity, and dignity. We became comrades.
Bruce (Luscious Lips) arrived at the same time as Billy and me. His meaty practical hands had square palms and short square fingers that were soft and supple with dominant plump third phalanges. His head and lifelines were tied together at their beginnings. He was a Taurus and a huge procrastinator. Bruce was in charge of recreation. He’d served state social service agencies throughout his entire work experience. Sweet and mild mannered, his desire to make a real difference had dulled from too many years of compliance to authority, rules, and regulations. Bruce had gone as high as he could in institutional politics. He was caring and attentive with the patients but seemed depressed and resigned to mediocrity the rest of the time. The only times Bruce revealed real passion and genuine enthusiasm was when we talked about gourmet food or going fishing together.
Barbara was the schoolteacher on our team. Her goal was to help as many patients as possible reach high school equivalency. She was a large boned middle aged Afro-American woman and a very kind person. I don’t remember her hands except for her large broad nails and the sparse clear lines engraved in her palms. Barbara had spent many years in state service. She was one of a very few state employees who managed to maintain a sense of humor and a life outside of her work. She complained the least of any full-time staff member and always kept her cool. Once during English class, one of the male patients pulled out his huge erect penis and started jerking off. Barbara walked over, looked him straight in his eyes and without raising her voice calmly said, “please excuse yourself and go to the bathroom”. He did. I wished I could have read her report about the incident.
Bob was the librarian. He reminded me of a Spam and Velveeta Cheese on Wonder Bread sandwich. Bob was a real life Walter Mitty. He was helpful when asked, but most of the time, gazed into the distance under thick lens wire rimmed glasses. As I think of him, I can still feel his cool damp mashed potato hand shake that confirmed a total lack of will power, energy, and enthusiasm.
Andrew was art therapist when I arrived. His tenure was short. The only thing I recall about him is that he sent his estranged daughter a gross of condoms for her sixteenth birthday. He quipped in his southern drawl, “If she’s going to do it, might as well be safe.” The new art therapist was Janice. She was an unsuccessfully aging frustrated starving artist in need of a steady income. There was a frequent staff turnover for art therapists.
Maya was recreational therapist. She was young, very private, and a very athletic Afro-American woman. Maya managed sports activities and the patient newspaper, the Scene. All of the staff liked Maya. Patients loved her. Her powerful ‘intuitive hands‘ were well suited for sports like football, soccer, and wrestling. Everyone thought Maya was gay, but that was nobody’s business.
I was a card-carrying member of a band of misfits in search of a fit. On the whole, I liked the rehab staff and felt like I was becoming part of a team. I looked forward to our working together and began to imagine that we might actually make a real difference…
I spent two years working part time, two days a week designing vocational rehabilitation programs at a forensic psychiatric hospital. I wanted to get to know that population. A year had passed when I got my first big break to finally delve into the clients. Rehab was responsible for holiday activities and Halloween was about to happen. “Wouldn’t it be fun if you were our fortune teller this year?” Dolores (my boss) inquired. I named myself “M”, ‘palmist’, dressed in satin robes with sun, moon, pentacles (five-pointed star), and a hand-crafted silver hand hung round my neck.
Caricature by Chris Wynter
Within moments of examining each a patient’s hands, I pinpointed their behavioral issues, current obstacles, and major life challenges. Most reacted, “Hey, you’re for real!” or “You really know me!”. I carefully tailored my words to their ability to understand. Most competent readers know that it’s not what you see, but what you say and how you say it that matters. Inadvertently, Dolores had set me up as a confidant. You never know what you’ll hear or what you’ll say when a person you’re talking to believes you already know their secrets and future. Word of my abilities spread quickly. I soon gained many new recruits who became regulars.
Mohamed was ‘a lifer’. He’d been given enough Thorazine to sedate a small army. As a giant sized middle-aged black man, he looked like a dark blend of Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley. As one of the most popular patients in the hospital, Mohamed had been a Hell’s Angel, cocaine addict, and cold-blooded murderer. He found `religion’ during solitary confinement. I began receiving Plain Truth magazine shortly after I met him. He had placed me on their mailing list. I learned about contraband from Mohamed. Patients with money got marijuana, alcohol, extra cigarettes, Sanka, and a myriad of other illegal stuff smuggled through security.
One not to notice occurrence was the way large quantities of office and recreational supplies would arrive and vanish quickly. I began hoarding yellow pads, pens, and pencils, hiding them in my desk before they disappeared. Staff were getting away with whatever they could. Even office machines vanished. When I asked a friend in a nearby hospital what was happening, she replied that it was “par for the course”.
Many people who work for government agencies have a chronic poverty consciousness that makes them feel inferior, underappreciated, and entitled to get away with whatever they can. Most workers in helping professions give too much and don’t ask enough for themselves.
Nothing was as it appeared. One security staff member who habitually acted friendly with patients, said to me in confidence, “I’d shoot every one of them in the head at night while they slept if I could get away with it”. I pretended he was joking but was really shocked and awed. Watching patients pretending to be what and how they believed staff wanted them to be was a spectator sport. When backs were turned, patients would give staff their middle finger or spontaneously contort their faces. Staff often behaved similarly to patients and each other.
Sometimes it was `Show Time’. An organization whose job it was to inspect state hospital social service programs was called `XYZ’. The ‘powers that be’ at the top of the mental health food chain got plenty of notice from XYZ. Inspectors showed up to lots of hustle, bustle, and productivity. We ran smoothly, like ‘Timex’ when observers were around. Everyone was active and cooperative, and everything was orderly and `spic and span’. In truth, we were scuzzy, and programming ran unpredictably… you know, the kinds of things inspectors need to see.
The state allots monies for capital improvements and program development each year. Unspent monies are removed from the following year’s budget. A $100,000.00 surplus needed to be spent quickly. A scam that affected me was the creation of a woodworking and refinishing shop. The cabinet approved purchasing expensive woodworking equipment for the Rehab Dept. They failed to inform us that the patients would ‘never’ be permitted to use the tools as they were ‘much too dangerous’.
I questioned Billy (other half of my position) about who was going to operate the equipment. He told me that he and I would initially do the machining, but eventually certain patients would be trusted. I disagreed. None of our conjecture mattered, because when the fiscal year was over, the cabinet scrapped the shop. Now they could ask for more money next year. You’ll appreciate this picture of me and Billy at the annual Xmas party. Even Santa was a lunatic!
I figured if everyone else was getting away with things, so could I. `Gigolo’ worked maximum security at the secure entrance. When no one was around, he’d wave me past the bag check and metal detector. Even the director of the hospital was scanned and checked daily. I took advantage of his trust by waiting outside the hospital entrance until no one was in the foyer. I became ‘Smiley’, who always entered the security area with a big smile on my face. Gigolo would wave me through. In my briefcase was a camera, tape recorder, and extra tapes. I began recording patient songs and stories. I could and so I did.
Virginia was abandoned by her mother at birth. Fished out of a garbage can, Virginia grew up in orphanages. She had a grade school education and never developed work skills. Virginia ventured out into the world on her own. She became pregnant as an adolescent and a magnet for one co-dependent abusive spouse after the other. Virginia prayed her children weren’t forsaken by God, but they were. They were homeless and starving. She loved them too much to watch them starve to death. So, she killed them. What else could she do?
Virginia’s haunting voice expresses the agony of her soul. I saw her as a cross between Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I found her tunes and lyrics profoundly poetic and deeply disturbing. She asked me to share one of my choosing.
“CRIES OF PAIN, CRIES OF JOY
SCREAMS OF TORMENT WITHIN
SILENTLY WHISPERING INNER FEAR
A WALL OF PRETENSE TO HIDE
BITTER REALITY WITH NO REMORSE
CHANGING MOODS, ALWAYS DENY
TRUTH IN A WORLD OF UNENDING STRIFE
REACHING OUT THE LAYER OF LIFE
DREAMING OF THE EVERYDAY CHARADE
MOVING FACES IN A MASQUERADE
REVEALING THE UNRELENTING SOUL
OF A TIRED AND LONELY BEING
HIDDEN QUALITIES SOARING BENEATH
THE EXTERNAL EXISTENCE ABOVE
COULD THE ENERGY EXIST TO FIGHT
THE SHADOWY SILHOUETTE OF I?”
“Have you ever seen a hand that frightened you?”
I often hear that question. It was a sweltering day. A chill entered my soul as I touched Manuel’s hot sweaty palms. His huge reddish balls of thumb were full (like they’d been stuffed with extra-large eggs) and smooth with no lines. The image on the left is simulated. The ball of thumb on the right is mine. Many significant relationship lines lie within my lifeline. I love lots of people. Manuel had no lines. Manuel had a mega-dose of desire, lust, and passion; nourished by fear, anger, and hatred. Unfortunately, Manuel had zero ability to have intimacy with other human beings. He allegedly kidnapped eight little boys, took them to rooftops, raped, murdered, cut their penises off, and carved crosses in the bases of their skulls.
Manuel pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to a maximum-security forensic hospital for the criminally insane. When I met Manuel, he had been dying of kidney disease. He’d been on dialysis machines for five years. His kidneys were shot. There would be no donor for a child serial killer. Manuel’s time was running out. He wanted to tell his story and asked me to record it. Before accepting Manuel’s word, I examined his hospital records and psychiatric treatment plans. Dozens of articles about the murders were recorded on microfilm in the news section of the public library.
Although the evidence was circumstantial, Manuel fit the profile. The media had generated a public frenzy. Hundreds of detectives and policemen were on the case. The first suspect had to be disguised as a policeman in order to not be lynched by the public.” It took over two hundred police, some wearing riot gear, to prevent over 1000 angry people from storming the xxx police station in the mistaken belief that a suspect in the mutilation murders of four young boys was inside the building.”
Manuel’s ball of thumb is the star of his story. Manuel came to the USA from Puerto Rico at age thirteen with his father and brother. He had great aspirations, but says he got hooked on drugs (marijuana) and headed downhill after that. Manuel said to me, “Drug addiction was in my genes. From the first time I tasted drugs, I never stopped”. A huge round ball of thumb symbolizes sensuality, compulsion, and indulgence. A paradox is that a large ball of thumb can also symbolize a huge appreciation of nature, children, art, music, and all things beautiful, along with abundant generosity and warmth. Manuel’s low set thumb and very stiff fingers and life and head line closely tied together at their start symbolizes that Manuel’s patterns and habits were deeply embedded.
Many thieves and pick pockets have inwardly curving pinkies. Hooked on heroine, Manuel resorted to stealing drugs to support his habit. He hung out with prostitutes and criminals. Meanwhile, his mother died of brain cancer, his sister died of cirrhosis of the liver, his half-brother died of a drug overdose, and his other brother was locked up for murdering their crazy father. Manuel’s tale would make an extremely dark TV sitcom.
Manuel dealt heroine to support his habit. When he turned sixteen, he was arrested for drug dealing. In “Purgatory’s tombs”, Manuel began banging his head against the wall. He was sent to a minimum-security outpatient mental hospital to detox and six months later he believed his habit was broken. Manuel discovered he had talents in arts and cooking. He tried living with a woman at seventeen, but he couldn’t stay out of trouble. While in and out of prisons and mental hospitals, Manuel managed to get his common-law wife pregnant three times; two daughters and a son. One daughter had to be on dialysis for failed kidneys.
Manuel spent five years in a state penitentiary while his family survived on welfare. The prison system tried to rehabilitate Manuel by teaching him several different trades. He had the best of intentions but was unable stay out of trouble. Next, he found religion and went to live in a church. Becoming fundamentalist and fanatical, Manuel began preaching from the bible to his family, friends, and strangers on the street. He claimed he tried to stay away from drugs, but even a drag from a cigarette or sip of beer would rekindle his addiction.
A combination of drugs and religion led to grandiosity. “I was greater than God. I really believed I was Jesus Christ”. Manuel took medication for his hallucinations. On drugs, he could temporarily cope. If he forgot, he’d become mentally and physically ill. Manuel began taking speed and cocaine again. His delusions and hallucinations became more grandiose. One forensic psychiatrist described Manuel as a “walking time bomb”, a violent psychopath destined for evil and a forensic lifestyle.
Several authorized and unauthorized exits from QRS, a low security mental hospital, coincided with the mutilation deaths of young boys. Manuel was seen preaching on the streets near the scene of one crime. He was connected to other murder locations because of relatives who lived nearby. Manuel denied killing the boys. A court appointed defense attorney talked him into copping a plea of insanity. Manuel claimed he didn’t know anything about the legal system and just followed his lawyer’s advice.
“I was sold down the river. Everyone needed a murderer, and I was him”. Manuel was declared criminally insane. There were no more mutilations of children after he was put away. I secretly believed Manuel committed those crimes. I also felt compassion for him. He was born on the short end of a very hard thorny stick in both the nature and nurture departments.
I was repulsed by him, but I also realized that Manuel might have been a very different person had he had real love and nourishment in his childhood. Manuel could have had a healthier and happier life with the right nurture.
I read almost every hand in the hospital, but never shared anyone’s secrets with anyone else. Rehab staff considered me harmless. They were more neurotic than the patients. Many had overdeveloped superegos. Most of them did what they knew they could get away with. Most patients had huge ids with no superego. They did what they thought they had to do, never contemplating the consequences of what they did. They saw only one solution to a problem. Patients generally had fewer peripheral lines in their palms than staff who were more confused.
I published an appeal to patients interested in participating in something creative and fun.
I was `M’, the fortune teller at our Halloween celebration. Mark is my name. I came here as a vocational instructor. Many of you know me as part-time art therapist. I’m actually an industrial designer. I design products for manufacturing companies and teach design at local colleges. I sometimes offer workshops to help creative people and inventors manifest their creations.
One year ago (this week), I began working here. I hoped I could motivate many of you to nourish your natural talents and abilities. I planned to offer guidance and support on projects of your creation. I assumed you’d be inspired by an opportunity to work on your own projects. Over the past year, I‘ve heard many reasons why you can’t or don’t want to be involved.
You’ve become so used to circumstances being hard that you can’t imagine anything else. Disappointment is too painful. You’re afraid to be enthusiastic. You’re afraid to trust anyone. Your self-esteem is too low. You’re not worthy or capable, but I assure you, you are.
I’m appealing to anyone who feels inspired or curious about their potentials and is willing to make a commitment to a weekly schedule to work under my direction. You must be accepted to participate in my class. A brief interview with Mr. Cartozian, the Rehab Counselor, will be required. His approval, along with the support of your treatment team will determine your eligibility. If you want my help, you’ve got it.
I promise to dedicate myself to helping class members make their projects a reality. Any project you choose is fine as long as it’s possible. Twelve students will participate in classes. There will be two work / study groups with six students each. Each will meet twice per week; one session on Tuesday and one session on Wednesday.
Here’s my vision: We’re motivated about our projects and willing to do whatever it takes to make them happen. We’re sharing in healthy constructive ways and learning a lot from everyone’s projects. We’re learning to draw and make things in our workshop. Many projects are happening; works of art, music, writing, and producing practical items like furniture, magazine racks, floral planters, and boxes of all shapes and sizes. If you can envision yourself in my class, please speak with me directly in the Rehab Department on a Tuesday or a Wednesday over the next several weeks.
I began preparing for my vocational classes. Some of my favorite patients were ready to sign up. Others I’d tried to interest remained apathetic. I published an appeal for my ‘vocational classes’ in the ‘Scene’, the patient newspaper. The response was better than I expected. It’s what happened as a result of my choices and actions that drove me out of my mind.
You don’t need a Gemini sun, moon, ascendant, planets, or house placements to be Gemini. Thinking Types have square palms and long fingers. No matter what your astrology says, pure Geminis have square palms, widely spread long fingers, flexible joints, supple thumbs, and dominant first phalanges on slightly knotty first phalanges with rounded tips. Gemini (mutable) is mentally and socially adaptable. Aquarius (fixed) is unique, eccentric, and innovative. Libra (cardinal) is strategic, balanced, and fair. Of course, there are dark sides…
When major lines in thinking hands split at their ends, that person is able to see many possibilities and outcomes. They often think or feel they have too many choices and decisions to make in order to get whatever done or go wherever they’re going. Mutable types are the most indecisive of the three modalities, especially air and water.
Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are water signs. Feelings must be balanced with Thinking. Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini are the opposing forces. Ambivalent feelings are incarnate in chains and islands on heart lines. Branches of feelings appear to be magnetically drawn to thinking. Parents who aren’t physically or emotionally present and / or don’t talk about their feelings are teaching their children to analyze, compartmentalize, and rationalize feelings. Rationalizing is safer than verbalizing feelings. A physically or emotionally absent parent as role model in the formative years is a recipe for struggling to learn to value ones’ thinking, feelings, and being. A short index finger often goes with a head ruled heart. Split lines are split for many reasons. Most people have challenging journeys.
Astrology reveals potentials. It’s impossible to accurately foretell a future. It’s hard to predict what we’ll do with potentials in our natal horoscope. Symbols may or may not reflect what you choose to integrate into your character and behavior.
Hands are topographical maps of character in past, present, and future. It’s easy to see the person’s corresponding strengths and weaknesses. While exercising our free will, changing our thinking, modifying our behavior, and re-scripting our story, we can observe the results, clearly etched and reflected in the morphology and topography of our hands over time.
Healthy Geminis have long straight pinkie fingers. They’re master bullshit detectors, acutely aware of their own bullshit, like knowingly being tactful and diplomatic when they’re much better off being frank and direct. Critical thinking, careful decision making, and crystal clear communication make good sense out of nonsense. What you see is what you get!
Dominant Gemini has square palms and long fingers, firm pink elastic skin with loop fingerprints. Long ring fingers with whorl prints add attractiveness, talent, salesmanship, risk taking, and luck. Knowing when to stop is the challenge. Gambling is a bad habit and horrible addiction. Dominant middle fingers, square tips, and developed first knots add technical, scientific, and pragmatic attributes. Powerful index fingers increase leadership potentials, speaking abilities, career potentials, partnerships, friendships, and goals.
Geminis make great lawyers, bankers, doctors, orators, writers, engineers, teachers, salesmen, accountants, and shopkeepers. Dominant pinkie types play small musical instruments that require physical and mental dexterity. Music makes great sense since hearing is Gemini’s physical sense. I’ve worked at special events with top magicians with dominant pinkies. They astound their audiences while deceiving their eyes and minds.
Cultivated Geminis are consummate communicators, social magnets, intuitive geniuses, and great judges of character. Most social of all signs, Gemini is often accused of being an impractical dreamer because he loves ideas so much. He can detach himself from mundane reality, still remaining objective about everyone and everything. He overvalues intellect and undervalues emotion. He feels threatened when his ideas and opinions are ignored without good reason. He can accept your viewpoint, even though he disagrees with you. He’s easily distracted and doesn’t want responsibility for making decisions that have consequences. Longing to be free and unrestricted, he actually needs most to stay focused, disciplined, and structured. Earning rewards requires doing whatever needs to be done with courage, strength, wisdom, and grace.
Hermes (Mercury) was the shortest god. The pinkie is the shortest finger. If the tip is longer than the crease between the first and second phalanx of the ring finger, it’s long. If shorter, it’s short. Dominant pinkie folk are often short in stature like Ed Harris (Sag) with slender body and face. Pure types are animated, with dark hair and penetrating eyes with crow’s feet in the corners. Gemini is the most youthful of all types, eternally childlike, they love children. Men often sport thin beards like Johnny Depp (Gemini). Michael Jackson (Virgo, ruled by Mercury) was a real life Peter Pan. He actually lived in ‘Neverland’. Brooke, Liza, and Liz were Michael’s Wendy’s.
Gemini is androgynous. In Greek myth, Hermes & Aphrodite (siblings) had an incestuous relationship that spawned Hermaphrodite. Dominance of Hermes in one’s psyche (known or unknown) creates bi-sexual tendencies. David Bowie was Capricorn with dominant Hermes. Mick Jagger is Hermes with strong Leo. Cate Blanchett is Hermes with a powerful Taurus sun. She played Bob Dylan, who is Gemini. Boy George is Gemini. Grace Jones, Taurus, has Mercury conjunct Uranus in Gemini. That’s a lot of uniqueness and eccentricity.
Our pinkie finger reveals our ability to communicate. It indicates truthfulness. Early family dynamic can be observed in how the pinkie is set and held. Very short or low set pinkies reveal lack of trust as a major issue. Many women with low set pinkies have told me they have trouble having orgasms. Their real challenge is in trusting someone enough to have real intimacy. Lengths and proportions of pinkie fingers symbolizes technical, language, sexual, financial, and family potentials.
Gemini rules hands and governs our nervous and respiratory systems. Health issues revolve around nervous and bronchial systems. Geminis have potential problems with headaches, thyroid glands, memory loss, and speech impediments. I’m Gemini. I’ve coped with Tinnitus (ringing in my head) for many years. It’s the worm in my apple.
Gold and diamond rings are normally found on the ring (marriage) finger. You’ll see rings on pinkie fingers of acquisitive people. Pinkie rings can symbolize sublimation of sexual energies to accomplish something that requires a lot of libido. I once examined a group of fifty young people born into powerful families in the 80’s. Considering the prosperity of the period, it seemed a paradox that every person I read had short phalanges on the bottom segment of their little fingers. Money will never be the motivation for their career choices. In the final analysis, their families, personal matters, and values will drive these individuals.
Would you buy a used car from this Gemini? Gemini’s liabilities are deceitfulness, trickiness, fickleness, nervousness, restlessness, and shallowness. People preaching on soapboxes, pickpockets, and most con artists have powerful pinkies (inwardly curving). Donald’s curve inward, confirmed in his natal astrology by a close Mercury Neptune square. It’s not what you do, but what you get away with that matters. Our trickster is not hiding his dark side. The streets are littered with conned contractors, jilted beauty queens, and fired apprentices. The Emperor grabs our pussies as he tortures our mother. If you believe mom (GAIA) is happy about her body, respiratory, circulatory systems, and spirit, we’re all in serious trouble!
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Many wonderful people have curved pinkies. They learned the hard way as little children to ‘act nice’. Their job was to avoid confrontation and keep the peace. Learning to say ‘NO’ is a lifelong challenge for them (especially with a large ball of thumb). It’s hard to straighten a curved pinkie, but it can be done. The person must stop trying to please and be whatever everyone else wants and needs them to be. If you’re pretending whatever is OK and it isn’t, check your pinkies.
You don’t need a Libra sun, moon, planets, aspects, or houses to be Libra. Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are ‘thinking’ types with square palms and long fingers. Dominant Libra has low set thumbs, widely spread fingers, round and square fingertips, and loop fingerprints. Many Libras have judiciously engraved long unobstructed headlines that fork at the end. Thinking and Intuitive types dominate political, publishing, public speaking, public relations, education, legal, marketing, sales, and entertainment fields.
Note: I’m basing my generalizations on over 40 years of reading hands of every age, race, religion, education, career, politics, and long term clients. My observations are subject to other possible interpretations, which may all be right or wrong by degree.
It’s not easy for Libras to make up their minds. They see every side of an idea or situation and it’s hard to limit options. Dominant pinkie fingered folk with large broad nails communicate clearly and frankly. Strong index fingers embody ambitious managers, powerful directors, and courageous leaders. Dominant bottom and middle finger phalanges work best in banking, real estate, and restaurants. Dominant first phalanges make the best public speakers, lawyers, directors, journalists, educators, and religious leaders. Libra can be idealistic, romantic, aesthetic, refined, manipulative, controlling, selfish, and unethical.
Widely spaced head and life lines embody spontaneity, love of freedom, need for action and personal space, and not caring what others think. Like a Samurai swordsman, Libra wields logic, tact, and diplomacy. They compartmentalize, analyze, and rationalize feelings until they achieve their desired goals. Changing a Libra’s mind is like playing mental monopoly. Be direct. Make good sense. Don’t get emotional. You’ll regret it otherwise.
Libra handshakes are firm and sincere. Pink elastic skin and long graceful heart lines flow from the pinkie to index finger, combining grace and romance. Firm elastic hands add energy and practicality to balance a sentimental nature. Branches from the heart line that touch the head line reveal one or both parents withheld emotions early in life. The child learns to rationalize, analyze, and compartmentalize difficult feelings that they are unable to verbalize. Stiff thumbs with a firm percussion under a pinkie reveal strong will, dogged determination, and unrelenting persistence. Gently curving lines following along inside life lines are lucky because they have real intimate family ties and true friends. Lines parallel within the lifeline are blessed with quality time and intimacy!
Athena, Greek archetype of Wisdom and Justice, is one of a trifecta with Aquarius and Gemini. Athena holds the ‘Scales of justice’ in one hand and a sword of thinking in the other. She balances ethics with action. Aries wins battles, while Athena rules the strategic thinking required to win wars. Odysseus (Libra), Achilles (Aries), and Theseus (Gemini) were heroes who worshiped Athena. Sometimes pictured as a handsome Goddess dressed in battle armor, Athena sports a shield of Intuition with an owl of Wisdom on her shoulder. Athena’s sword is applied with icy detachment as she cuts to the quick as she discards emotions in favor of clarity of thought.
Libra is the Autumn Equinox, 7th sign of the zodiac, and 7th house of marriage. October offers an opportunity for real partnership, sharing, and giving without expectation. Libra strives for balance, idolizes harmony, hates discord, despises confrontation, but faces conflict honestly when it’s unavoidable. Decisive when it matters, Libra is notoriously indecisive when it doesn’t matter. Questions like what and where to eat and what to wear are challenging. Libra can be aggressive and passive at the same time. Being frank and direct doesn’t understand acting and pretending. ‘Nice’ is easy. ‘Safe’ is unsatisfying. Honesty is the best policy…
Everyone has Libra in their symbolism and psyche. Twelve different characters rule our character. As ruler of our 7th and 2nd houses, Venus knows our truths, values, boundaries, and the difference between right and wrong. Two popular Libra aphorisms are “Locks keep honest people honest” and “Contracts are as good as those who make them”.
“Even an attorney of moderate talent can postpone doomsday year after year, for the system of appeals that pervades American jurisprudence amounts to a legalistic wheel of fortune, a game of chance, somewhat fixed in favor of the criminal, that the participants play interminably.” Truman Capote…
A wealthy lawyer friend reminds me that rich people are innocent until proven guilty while poor folk are guilty until proven innocent. Wealth encourages players to shirk social responsibility, justify awful personal and social behaviors and actions, and manipulate the law. Poor folk are cursed to an eternity of scraping for pennies at the bottom of the barrel while HAVES have privilege and a birthright of those who can afford to have. Why must we lose what we value to value what we had?
Libra knows something could change an outcome, and fails to mention it. Philip Morris knew cigarette smoke was toxic. Monsanto knows ‘Roundup’ causes cancer. Bayer knows they’re murdering bees and butterflies. Politicians in Flint, Michigan, knew they were poisoning people who were depending on them for protection. GE was aware it was polluting the Hudson River. Giant companies choose profit over the health of our people and planet. Trump knows the potential of the Corona Virus, of Climate Change, and of promoting hatred. Partisan politicians rule public health. Donald deceives and exploits us by preaching poisonous political propaganda, empowering spiritually bankrupt religious fanatics, encouraging morally and ethically bankrupt business behavior, and enraging hordes of clueless gun lovers. Greta is an Athena/Artemis.
Learning to judge hands is the most challenging aspect of palmistry. Long and firm may appear short and soft, based on context and by degree. Rigorous practice and learning to ask the right questions is key to understanding and interpreting human character as reflected in the morphology and topography of our hands. Few of us are pure types. Many of us behave contrary to our sun signs. No matter what hands say about a person, it’s not what you see, but what you say and how you say it that matters.
My brother Gary is a Pisces, a mutable feeling type. Gary may be Neptunian on the inside, but his hands reveal he’s ruled by Libra. His behavior is rooted in cardinal thinking. Supported by practical firm thumbs, healthy, smooth textured, elastic skin, and pink coloring, Gary’s analytical and logical thinking merge gracefully with his compassionate feelings and intuition. His commitment to working with frustrating clients and stressful situations reveals a natural empathy many Libras lack. They analyze, rationalize, and compartmentalize feelings rather than trust them. Gary is a loving husband and father, devoted son, generous brother, compassionate friend, and healthy human being. Gary is also an adventurous geriatric psychiatrist, practical philosopher, and prankster. I used to tease Gary that I was going to go completely crazy with age. I conjured and shared scary fantasies of how he’d be stuck with me. Lucky for both of us, as a Gemini, I decided not to get old.
Andrea, Gary’s middle daughter and my niece, is a Libra with Libra hands. Independent. likable, and easy to be with, Andrea is a giver. I read Andrea’s hands when she was young, but old enough to understand me. I mentioned how she likes getting her way and usually does. She giggled as if I had discovered her secret. Matching Sun Signs and hands can be good or bad, depending on what a person does with them. There’s no substitute for noble intent, clear choice, critical thinking, and right use of free will.
Cousin Richie, Libra extraordinaire, philosopher, sculptor, and inventor, is father of Tangle, the infinite sculpture (series of interactive interlocking elbows). Our mothers were sisters. We share the ancestral “happiness” and “seeker” genes, and we have similar existential queries. I once suggested to Richie, “If you put the same religious fervor into saving the world as you put into plastic elbows, we’d be saved”. “I am saving the world”, he replied, “one Tangle at a time.” He meant it.
My cousin has sold tens of millions of Tangles worldwide. A mutual friend from NYC visited a monastery in Tibet and saw a poster of the Dalai Lama playing with with a chrome Tangle. “Nothing surprises me”, I told him. When I visited Richie at the annual gift show at the Javits Center in NYC. He was selling Tangles to a conservative buyer from Wal-Mart. I leaned closer and heard him say, “Let me show you the only product in this show worth more than money”. He meant it.
Blending astrology and hands is how I view character. Few of us are pure types. Most are mutts. Richie’s fingers may seem short for a thinking type. He’s got dominant air and fixity, and very strong Aquarian energy. Richie loves new ideas and enjoys sharing his opinions with incorrigible tenacity. I might see Richie’s hands differently if I didn’t know him. Libra opposes Aries as Autumn opposes Spring. A Libra and Aries opposition is a quest for higher awareness and a journey from light to darkness and back. Odysseus fanned the flames of Jason’s inspiration on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Richie quests to untangle truth, maintain inspiration, channel passion, and harness desire. Healthy intent, right thinking, careful actions, and a handful of good luck wins the fleece.
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King (Virgo ~ 9/21/47)
You don’t need a Virgo Sun, Moon, planets, aspects, or planetary placements to be Virgo. Practical types (Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo) have square palms and short fingers. Virgo is a mutable modality and the most adaptable of all three types. Virgo often has strong middle and pinkie fingers, dominant middle phalanges, and square fingertips. Virgo hands are much more flexible than Taurus hands. Their skin is more pink and elastic than Capricorn with whitish flat palms and developed first knots on lean stiff closely held fingers, embodying a frugal and pragmatic character.
Virgos are frequently accused of being critical. They can be, but they can also be their own worst critics. Their methodical approach and need for natural order is embodied in their square palms and fingertips. Large second knots and short fingernails add order, preciseness, utility, and purpose. Middle fingers that lean or crook toward ring fingers strive for perfection and need personal space. Fire rising or watery moon have less knotty and crooked fingers. Intuition and feeling adds passion, inspiration, and empathy to practicality. Chewed nails are self-critical and critical of others. Nails bitten to the quick embody a contrary person who chooses another side of an argument, just to make a point, even if they agree with you. Grilled lines beneath middle fingers confirm frustration and lack of satisfaction.
Famous for cleaning up everyone else’s messes, Virgo obsesses on details. Contrary to popular belief, Virgo doesn’t like details. They’re thorough and meticulous, but need to see the whole picture. Virgo is happiest and most desirable where reliable, modest, orderly, and discriminating service is required.
Short fingered folk (Practical & Intuitive) generally dislike details. Details are a nuisance. Others can do them better, but who can do them better than Virgo? Virgo selflessly rationalizes and wills herself to do what must be done. She knows her value, but asks too much of or too little for herself. Others must value and appreciate her. Virgo works hard to be useful. Never take a Virgo for granted. Virgo is symbolic of the harvest time.
Virgos who have worked hard and have been rewarded for their efforts are Agatha Christie, Leonard Cohen, Alan Dershowitz, Marcia Clark, J.P. Morgan, Warren Buffet, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren, Paul Walker, Keanu Reeves, Cameron Diaz, Michael Jackson, Beyonce’, Margaret Trudeau, Lyndon Johnson, George Wallace, Yasser Arafat, and John McCain (Taurus hands). John’s short index finger, conical tip, prominent knots between phalanges, and a thick 3rd phalanx made him a bundle of contradictions. His slightly crooked pinky with intuitive tip says ‘what you see is not what you get’. Few knew John’s secret truths.
“The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding” Hermes
Mercury, (Hermes) winged messenger, holds a caduceus (medicine). Virgo rules healthcare. Virgo is earthy, practical, and represents the technical aspects of thinking. Feminine in gender, Virgo is empathetic, logical, healthy, and helpful. Gemini is masculine, intellectual, and clever. Gemini rules communications, thinking, and wit. Imagination and thinking must be balanced through practical action. This Gemini needs Virgo friends, city, and country homes to maintain his sanity and create the balance and harmony needed now and always to overcome darkness.
You can see everything in hands! This is true and not true. A hand is a small space for a large life. A seasoned palmist can see many things, but it’s not what you see, but what you say and how you say it that matters. When you’re focusing on something specific, combinations of qualities and markings will confirm your search. I began practicing palmistry in my early thirties. A young man showed up one day asking “When am I going to die?” He was a Virgo, healthy, well proportioned, energetic, smart, and multi-talented. He appeared in perfect health. His well-balanced square palms were pink and firm with short straight fingers. Pink elastic skin, resilient palms, flexible wrists, and mildly flexible finger joints revealed a healthy balance between purpose, determination, and adaptability. Basic lines were clear and deeply engraved. What a lucky man, I thought, but fate had chosen a different future for him with AIDS as his life focus.
AIDS was a death sentence at the time. I hadn’t a clue how to see the dis-ease. Nothing stood out. I lacked the experience to counsel him. “I’m sorry, only god can answer your question”, I awkwardly replied. “You’re a naturally healthy person. If anyone can beat this, you can.” I lauded his positive qualities, but he didn’t want to hear that. We chatted, like friends, about what he planned to do. He wanted to be proactive. I helped him plan a future of healthy food, exercise, sleep, honesty, meaningful relationships, and quality time management.
My curiosity and desire to make a difference inspired me to volunteer at Bailey House, an AIDS housing organization. I showed up 2X weekly for 2 years to examine hands, share astrology, and interpret tarot cards for clients and staff. Metaphysics was my lens for viewing their issues and challenges. My job was to help them choose what’s next. In the final analysis, I entertained, listened, and cared for whoever was there at the time.
I printed hands in the AIDS community monthly to monitor the progress and regress of the disease. Lack of adequate funding, limited time, and not enough statistical data made it impossible for me to be thorough or scientific. I did notice changes in skin ridge patterns on the percussion of the hand. Ridges got smoother and began to disappear as a person got sicker. People with AIDS suppress their potentials because they obsess on the harsh realities of their impending mortality. I supported their talents and strengths and inspired some to continue making positive choices and taking meaningful actions.
Anyone can learn to examine and reflect on their hands and the hands of others. Hands are mirrors that empower us be true to ourselves and each other. Once you’re good at interpreting hands, you can be your own best friend and bullshit detector. Hands are morphological and topographical maps of character. Hands reveal our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. In the days before computerized medical diagnosis, doctors combined knowledge, experience, and intuition to diagnose illness as they tasted a patient’s urine, looked into their eyes, examined their tongue, skin, and especially scrutinized their hands.
Fingernails are windows to a person’s health. Anemia, thyroid disease, malnutrition, carpal tunnel syndrome, psoriasis, eczema, liver disease, heart, lungs, colon, chronic respiratory disease, lymph system problems, diabetes, Raynaud’s disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, Hodgkin’s disease, and sickle-cell anemia can be seen in nails.
Few palmists actually diagnose illness. Most of us observe symptoms. When I see a potential health problem, I let the person know I’m not a medical palmist and suggest they see a specialist. Dozens of stress related illnesses and several types of cancer can be seen in the ‘dermatoglyphics’ (skin ridge patterns) of hands. Conditions of lines can indicate conditions of heart, brain, kidneys, liver, and stomach in males and females.
Health challenges are natural predispositions to specific character types. Know the type and understand the corresponding potential health challenge. The following list of health issues are gross generalizations that correspond to a person’s dominant astrological sign and hand features. You can click on links to learn more about how a finger is dominant, what that means, and about other features and qualities embodied in hands.
Dominant index finger ~ Sagittarius ~ blood disorders, liver trouble, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, problems with hips, thighs, throat, and temptations to overindulge in rich foods and drinks.
Dominant middle finger ~ Capricorn ~ skin problems, teeth with age, knees, ligaments, secretion of bile, skeletal wear, tear, and misalignment, left ear deafness, paralysis, rheumatism, gout, hardening of the arteries, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
Dominant heel of hand ~ Cancer ~ bodily fluids, stomach, tumors, female disorders, epilepsy, mucous membranes, gout, rheumatism, kidney, bladder, and mental illness.
Dominant thumb and percussion of hand ~ Aries ~ inflammations, acute fevers, blood diseases, infections, muscular disorders, hemorrhage, infectious and contagious diseases, throat and chest trouble, and high blood pressure.
Peripheral lines on heel of hand ~ Scorpio ~ reproductive system, ruptures, hemorrhoids, ulcers, venereal diseases, and problems with prostate or urethra.
Nails and qualities of lines ~ Aquarius ~ ankle weakness, anemia, cramps, heart weaknesses, nervous diseases, varicose veins, and sensitive skin.
Pointed finger tips / yellow skin / islands on health line ~ Pisces ~ problems with feet, toes, bunions, gout, colds, mucous discharges, tumors, addictions, and liver trouble.
You don’t need a Leo sun, moon, ascendant, planets, aspects, or houses to be Leo. Leo’s character and behavior can be readily seen in the morphology and topography of their paws. All three Intuitive(fire) types have long rectangular palms and short fingers. Leo’s hand shape is identical to Sagittarius and Aries. Fire (intuitive) and air (thinking) are masculine in gender. Earth (practical) and water (feeling) are feminine. Practical types have square palms and short fingers. Thinking and feeling types are long fingered. Thinking types have square palms. Feeling types have long palms.
Leo is a fixed modality. He hates change. Leo’s hands are less flexible than Sagittarius and Aries. His skin is less elastic than Aries (cardinal). Sagittarius (mutable) hands are softer and less stiff than Leo’s hands. Leo loves his pleasures and being center of attention. Sagittarius can be a self indulgent pleasure-seeking optimist. Their secret fear is that the pessimists are right! Aries acts without thinking and has to learn the hard way to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions. Clear line formations reveal clarity, resolution, choice, and commitment.
As a highly spirited enthusiastic individual, Leo hates details, needs to see the whole picture, and feel free to express himself naturally. Leo’s great ideas need to be supported by inspiration, passion, commitment, teamwork, and an occasional kick in his procrastinating butt by someone who cares about him. Leo is masculine. As an independent objective thinker, Leo must learn to set realistic goals and channel his pride and passion through the lenses of honesty, integrity, dignity, nobility, and virtue.
Leo’s eager fans await his contagious humor and compelling stories. Creative, enthusiastic, dramatic, generous, and fiercely loyal, when Leo chooses ‘you’, he lavishes you with ‘praise’, then expects you to love, admire, and worship him forever.
Closely braided beginnings of head and life lines reveal folk who care too much what others think, even though they act opposite. The longer the chain, the stronger the need to be appreciated. Once Leo’s on the defensive, it’s impossible to reason with him. He often takes what you say personally, even if it wasn’t personal. Leo needs to feel liked and appreciated. Encourage, support, and give Leo permission to be himself. Don’t allow him to let himself be taken for granted. He’ll be much happier and so will you.
Leo’s physical sense is sight. The spiritual equivalent is enlightenment. Leo must learn not to be judgmental of others, to keep his expectations real, and to choose courage, dignity, love, and truth over false pride and future losses. Leo’s most common health problems are poor eyesight, damaged heart, and poor circulation. Leo must focus his light inward to heal himself. Many multi-talented Leos spread themselves too thin. Later in life, they look back at having become a jack of all trades, master of none.
Our character, values, thinking, feelings, will power, work and health issues, relationship potentials, creativity, philosophy, purpose, career possibilities, hopes, dreams, fears, and spirituality are waiting to be seen at the ends of our arms. A seasoned palmist can readily interpret a person’s character from their hands. Despite the accuracy of the science of hand reading, human nature cannot be defined through details. The ‘art’ of palmistry is in connecting with another being through touch, sight, dialogue, intuition, and then interpreting combinations of details. Our hands reveal our physical, mental, and emotional choices and actions, and provide context for our behavior. Palmistry is a metaphysical method of observing and interpreting human nature through knowing hands.
Cultivated Leos have strong ring fingers. Rounded and square shaped tips are common. You’ll find spatulate tips on innovators and problem solvers. Balanced finger proportions with dominant second and third phalanges are common and embody a love of family, home, food, and natural style. Short straight fingers, developed second knots, and broad nails tell us “what you see is what you get”. OCD at times, everything must have their designated places. Qualities of lines such as breaks, islands, and chains show what challenges and obstacles a person has had, is having, and may have on his path to knowing his purpose. Consistency and flexibility of hands and elasticity of skin reveal three modalities. Whorl fingerprints (concentric circles and spirals) add originality, spontaneity, eccentricity, and unconventionality. Loops embody adaptability. Arches tend to be more practical and conventional with respect to the meaning of the particular finger.
Look to ring fingers for insights into artistic and aesthetic abilities, dramatic talent, versatility, salesmanship, satisfaction, recognition, and reputation. No matter what your archetype, long straight ring fingers add mental and/or emotional adaptability, creativity, and expressiveness. Cultivated Leos love beautiful things and savor their sense of taste and style. Most long ring fingered Leos are likable and they know it. Leo’s greatest weaknesses are bossiness, showiness, hubris, and gambling.
The ring finger is judged for length against the middle finger. If the tip is shorter than the middle of the first phalanx of the middle finger, it’s short. When longer, it’s long. Many actors, artists, architects, designers, craftsmen, photographers, curators, businessmen, teachers, salesmen, politicians, and diplomats have long strong ring fingers. The luckiest gamblers have very long ring fingers. Their challenge is knowing when to stop.
No matter your archetype, people with square tips and stiff knotty joints are more practical, methodical, and cautious than those without. Crooked middle fingers embody perfectionism, self-criticism, and crankiness caused by a need for personal space and not having enough of it. A widely spread pinkie is another indication of a need for personal space. Crooked pinkie fingers embody avoidance of conflict and a compulsive need to make the peace. On the dark side, it can symbolize manipulating bullies, liars, and grifters like Donald Trump and his clan.
Defective Genes Hard at Work
Healthy Leos like to shine like the sun. Their strength and courage are heroic! Leo is naturally charming, talented, and versatile. They’re natural designers with an ability to balance objectivity with creativity. Liabilities are self-consciousness, insecurity, vanity, clinging to obsolete circumstances, perpetuating unhealthy behavioral patterns, cultivating confusing situations, and nursing fruitless relationships. Leo needs an inspiring quest or risk mundanity and mediocrity. He must cultivate clear vision and enduring patience. Naturally restless, impatient, and impulsive, it’s best you stay out of his way to If you can’t help him. Don’t ever take him for granted unless you want to make him angry or scarce.
Leos are at their finest when they’re responsible, honest, patient, and natural in their behavior and relationships. Frequently accused of ‘being opinionated’, Leo’s point of view is very important. Clear and effective communication is a key to Leo’s success. Leo’s greatest obstacles and challenges are setting clear boundaries, knowing his limitations, overcoming inertia, and letting go when the handwriting is on the wall.
Our four most recent Presidents are dominated by Leo
Bill Clinton is a multi-talented charismatic Leo. Bill’s rectangular palms and short fingers reveal Leo (intuitive) hands. Head and life lines are closely tied at their beginnings. Bill cares more than you know about what others think of him. Philandering is a common challenge of having power. Bill’s hubris undermined the power he worked so hard to acquire. I’ll bet he and Hillary had a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” partnership. Bill wasn’t supposed to do anything stupid or get caught! Rest assured that Hillary (Scorpio Sun/Capricorn hands) gave Bill a spanking they’ll never forget!
Unearned power is a curse. People born rich or beautiful take it for granted. Many believe they actually deserve what they have. George W. Bush desperately wanted to be a ‘good old boy’ like his dad. Unfortunately, George clung to his frat boy mindset, well into his Presidency. George is a Cancer with Leo rising and Leo hands. Ego and false pride controlled George and ruled us. You can bet that George is ashamed of his poor choices and bad behavior as President. A broken mirror, Donald Trump has taught George Bush humility. He’s happy not to be the worst President.
Barack Obama is a Leo with Aries hands and Aquarius thinking. A warrior of ideas and ideals, Barack embodies many of the best qualities of Leo. He’s proud, respectful, and very loyal to family and friends who have earned his trust. Barack’s greatest challenge as President was trying to be bi-racial and bi-partisan in a partisan world. Barack should have grabbed power when Democrats ruled congress. Repuglican’t opposition has been truthless, ruthless, relentless, remorseless, and shameless.
Would you buy a used car from this man?
Donald Trump is Gemini with Leo rising. His small stiff Leo hands, braided head and life lines, and crooked pinkies reveal Donald also cares more than you know about what you think of him. While flaunting the worst qualities of Gemini and Leo, his flippant attitude toward others, ignorance of our planet, and constantly intimidating behavior is wrecking havoc on a human race against bad shit happening. How many polished brass towers, glitzy gambling casinos, graven images, beauty queens, shark tanks, celebrity idols, screwed contractors, scared people, and have-nots scraping for pennies at the bottom of the barrel does it take to screw in a light bulb? Donald’s minions have mistaken ‘no love’ for ‘tough love’. Too many horrible role models are being reincarnated every day into darkness, despair, and fear that support Donald’s emptiness!
Pestilential presidential practices and partisan political paradigms poison public psyche. Pious philosophies and prejudicial policies pollute our collective psyche. We analyze, rationalize, and compartmentalize Trump’s insane beliefs, illogical ideologies, and illicit actions, while we sacrifice our dignity, integrity, nobility, and virtue on the altar of nonsense.
The Presidency is not a job. It’s is a calling! The Presidency is a mission for a spiritual person with a balanced mind, heart, healthy attitudes, a strong need to give, and a desire to make a real difference. Donald Trump blew his golden opportunity to be truly loved by choosing to rule with fear, anger, hatred, and greed. How much tyranny, intimidation, and avarice must we endure before we lose our humanity, health, family, friends, and planet?
Donald’s failure to help humanity is a symptom of his desire to hurt humanity. His story is an allegory that teaches us not to take what we value or have failed to value for granted. In November, Donald’s humiliation, shame, and fall from grace will bring great relief and satisfaction to masses of people! Shouts of hope and joy will echo round the globe. The Trump brand will become worthless and symbolize evil in the 21st Century.
Author’s Note: The following observations, insights, and generalizations are derived from over forty years of examining over seventy-five thousand sets of hands.
You don’t need a Cancer sun, moon, planets, or planetary house placements to be Cancer. Feeling types have long narrow palms and long fingers, often held closely together. Healthy hands have a firm consistency with pink elastic skin. Finger joints are pliable, less stiff than Scorpio, and less supple than Pisces. Cancer head and life lines often separate at their beginnings. That symbolizes cardinal energy and independence. If the head and life lines are closely connected at their beginnings, that person has (mother issues) fears like losing control, hates being criticized, and needs approval. Cancers should never ever be taken for granted.
Cancer is sensitive. More peripheral lines add more sensitivity. Be careful what you say because they’ll remember the ‘bad’ things, even if you haven’t said any. Long gently sloping head lines blend with full pink heels of hands and embody a healthy balance between intuition, creativity, and practicality. Heart lines that gracefully curve toward the index finger personify a romantic, idealistic, and sometimes unrealistic vision of other people. I’ve observed lots of round and conical fingertips with long broad nails, loop fingerprints, and romantic heart lines. They’re intuitive communicators, sensing what’s really happening. They prefer to be frank and offer sincere handshakes.
Cancers are intuitive, empathetic, complex, and overly aware of the needs of others. They’re hard to understand because they hide their innermost selves beneath a facade of nurturing actions. Pry into their private lives and they’ll retreat into their shells. They’re cautious and vulnerable, need to be direct, although they often have to be tactful and diplomatic. The only option that makes good sense is to choose satisfying over safe. They shouldn’t avoid emotional confrontation and need to cultivate intimacy wherever and whenever they can. Feelings may swing from loving and devoted to secretive, reclusive, obsessive, and fearful of the future. When Cancers are feeling insecure, controlled, or confined, they can become dark and moody. They need to feel protected and secure before they can fully trust. Once trust is earned, loyalties run deep. You’ll see intimacy in many lines running parallel to the lifeline within the ball of thumb. Healthy family connections and close friendships nourish these folk. The more structure, organization and detail in their lives, the more stable and secure they feel.
Healthy Cancers are loving, compassionate, and devoted beings. They’re most compatible with other feeling types. They feel safest with responsible, reliable, and dependable practical types. Challenged by thinking and intuitive types, they’re nervous that they’ll be left holding the psychic garbage (and they often are) and forced to deal with the consequences when idealism, optimism, enthusiasm, and logic wane (and they do). Cancers are acutely consciousness of everyone’s emotional needs. When insecure, they can become internally secretive and over-ambitious in the outer world. Cancers work hard when income matches output. Motivated by family, good food, emotional security, and fertile soil, their instinct and mission is to nourish, protect, exercise their creative imagination, and make sure there’s plenty of good food around.
“You’ve got to play to lose”
The old guy above is the young guy with me in this picture captured forty-six years ago in a photo booth at Kennywood Amusement Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. Lloyd Wilson (Cancer), my best friend, and I met working part time at a wood, metal, and plastics model making machine workshop where we fabricated preschool children’s learning devices for the University of Pittsburgh. We met because we were making toys for ourselves on our own time. I was destined to become an industrial designer. Lloyd was a painter and sculptor. We were a couple of Peter Pans on a journey to Neverland.
Lloyd didn’t get much nurturing as a child. He developed a quick wit and sense of humor while avoiding extreme physical abuse. When his mother was happy, Lloyd was safe. When she was unhappy, she’d incite Lloyd’s rage filled father to brutally beat him. Lloyd’s mother ended up killing herself, his father was committed to a mental institution, and his favorite sister, (we met while on vacation in Florida) with two beautiful young children, a devoted husband, and seeming idyllic life, suddenly and unexpectedly blew her head off with a shotgun. It’s a paradox to have so much to give and lose.
Lloyd’s slender rectangular palms and long fingers embody his Cancer Sun, Venus, and North Node. They conjunct my Mercury in Cancer. His Gemini ascendant is exactly conjunct my vertex, which is the midpoint of my eighth house Gemini stellium. Lloyd’s head and life lines are tightly intertwined at their beginnings. That reveals his desire to feel needed and appreciated. As a sensitive child, Lloyd desperately needed love and support, but didn’t get any.
Lloyd tried hard to fix his broken parents. They were too sick to see him. Instead, they judged, criticized, and abused him. Lloyd survived without their love and approval. He thrives on appreciation. He’ll give his friends the shirt off his back, but they had better never take him for granted. Lloyd literally gave me the shirt off his back in my moment of need. I was on my way to an important meeting and got a nasty stain on my shirt. Lloyd insisted I take off my shirt and trade with him.
Cancers are collectors. Some stockpile food in case of shortage or emergency. Lloyd collects art books, literature (most well-read person I know), religious art, art supplies, tools, and clothing. When wealthy people die, their families donate clothing to Goodwill and Salvation Army. Lloyd has a keen eye for the finest designer clothing. He’s always first to pick through merchandise. As a master bargain hunter, I call Lloyd my personal dresser. We wear the same sizes. Lloyd chooses coats, suits, and jackets for me He’s gifted me with suits worth thousands of dollars that he only paid ten or fifteen dollars for. Many had never been worn.
Lloyd said to me, “People who tell the truth don’t need good memories”. I replied, “We may be bastards, but at least we’re honest”. Over fifty years of friendship continue to see many challenging lessons in humility for us. We delayed balancing our outer and inner worlds by choosing to learn the hard way. We learned that there are no shortcuts and to let go of the need to be greater than we were.
Lloyd’s extremely flexible thumbs symbolize his ability to adapt to the most horrible of circumstances. They also embody his generosity of heart and spirit. It’s very hard for Lloyd to say “NO”. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it to him, but the gold ring on the bottom middle finger of Lloyd’s unconscious hand symbolizes his need to have clear boundaries, be frugal, and to learn to say no.
Loving his anonymity, Lloyd’s artwork is created by a magical spirit who is him. Lloyd exemplifies Cancer’s most outstanding inner and outer qualities. He’s supportive, sympathetic, receptive, reflective, intuitive, imaginative, and extremely devoted to friends, family, and humanity. Lloyd Wilson is Pittsburgh’s best kept secret.