“Dr. Wylie, come here. I want to tell you something.”
It was the man with the mass of self-inflicted scars whom I had engaged in the infirmary some weeks earlier. I stepped over to his cell and reflexively tilted my head to listen to what he had to tell me. Suddenly I felt a blow to my face. We locked eyes. His expression, which was to haunt me for the better part of two years, was viciously contorted. He hit me again, not too hard. Nothing serious, I thought, and walked away.
Weirdly, I suddenly felt in control of that corridor, giving hard stares right back as I walked. I opened the great door at the end of the hall and, noting a sensation of increasing warmth, I looked down: the entire front of my suit was soaked in blood.
The initial strike with a razor blade had cut clear through my cheek, causing it to gape open. The second swipe had sliced my neck, barely missing the great vessels, which, if severed, would have caused me to bleed out in minutes and expire.
The attack was to have the effect of permanently welding me to my mission of exploring the nature and meaning of the human mind: it had penetrated me and remained lodged inside me. As a refuge from relentless anxiety from flashbacks, I consumed Charles Darwin’s books with growing excitement. Late one night, I placed this quotation in my wallet where it remains today:
In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species