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When Robin Norris seeks professional help from psychoanalyst Dr. Jordan Geller, he finds under hypnosis that she quickly assumes the identity of Beverly Casper, a teenager who disappeared some thirty years ago, and he struggles to reconcile the facts presented to him with his rationalist ideals.
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JOSEPH TELUSHKIN is the author of a trilogy featuring the rabbinic sleuth, Daniel Winter, which was the basis for episodes of the Emmy-Award winning television program, The Practice. Telushkin is also the author of Jewish Literacy. He resides in New York City.
ALLEN ESTRIN works in both television and film writing. He is a senior lecturer in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, and the producer of The Dennis Prager Show.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"Remember, you are totally safe in this room," Jordan said, anxious to calm her, and himself as well. "All that’s going on is that you’re describing things that happened a long time ago, but they’re not happening any more. You are totally safe, no matter how frightening some of these things might seem when you remember them. Do you understand what I’m saying?"
"Okay, let’s go on. When did you meet him, this guy who calls himself John?"
She took a long breath. "My car broke down on Topanga Canyon."
"What time was it?"
"10:20, maybe later, it might have been 10:30. I kept hoping a police car would pass. But nothing did."
"No police car, you mean?"
"Almost no cars. They just drove right by."
Jordan made a quick calculation, if she was driving a car, her father must already have been long dead. "Did you call your mom?"
Again, Robin seemed on the verge of breaking down. A passing fire engine siren was competing with her now shaky voice. Jordan placed his ear just inches from Robin’s mouth. "I was afraid to get out of the car. I didn’t see any phones around. Also, I knew my mom and dad would kill me." My mom and dad: Jordan wondered at the words. "I shouldn’t have even been there. I told them I wouldn’t drive on Topanga Canyon at night."
Jordan struggled to process the information. Robin was in her mid-twenties. When had this happened? Maybe when she was very young, four or five, and she had suppressed the memory. No, that would be ridiculous. She was driving a car by herself. That means she had to be at least sixteen or seventeen. Even if she was too young to drive—but no, that couldn’t be it; her parents seem to have given her permission. And why the references to her father; had her mother remarried? Did she call her stepfather "dad"?
"How old are you?" he asked.
"Seventeen. My birthday was last month."
All right, at least we cleared up that mystery.
"Okay, let’s go on. You’re in the car, it’s broken down, it’s late at night, and no cars are coming by. What happened next?"
"A car pulled up near me. An older guy got out."
"Much older than me. Maybe twenty-five, I guess. I don’t know why, he looked familiar."
Robin shook her head mutely.
"Okay. What happened next?"
"He parked his car. Then he got out and asked me if I needed help. I said yes, and he told me to release the hood. He lifted it up and looked at the engine. He told me that something with my ignition was totally out of whack. Only he didn’t say it like that. He used technical language, like he was a mechanic or something. He seemed very nice, so I got out, and we pushed the car off to the side. He told me he’d drive me to a phone if I wanted to call my parents. It felt scary there alone on the road, so I went with him."
"You’re with him in the car now." Jordan said. "Tell me what’s going on."
"At first, everything was okay. We talked a little; he asked me what school I went to. Then, he turned on the radio."
"A music station?" Jordan asked. If she remembered one or two of the songs being played, it would be easier to narrow down an approximate date.
"I don’t know. It was a news report."
Jordan nodded. "Do you remember anything that was said?"
"It was the stuff they had been talking about the whole day. How that Manson guy raised a newspaper in court with the big headline about the President saying he was guilty."
"Manson?" Jordan asked.
"Yeah, Charles Manson. The guy who sent that gang to murder Sharon Tate."
Jordan sat quietly, trying to absorb this last comment. How did Charles Manson get in here?
"You’re seventeen, right?"
Jordan calculated, then tried to phrase the next words in as non-challenging a manner as possible. "But the Manson murders happened more than thirty years ago?"
"What are you talking about?" Her voice took on a petulant tone. "It happened two years—"
"Robin, tell me what year it is."
She said nothing.
"Why aren’t you answering?"
"You were speaking to somebody else."
"Robin, I’m speaking to you. There’s no one else here."
"Who’s Robin?" she asked.
Jordan felt a cool sweat on the back of his neck. He held up a hand in front of his face and blew softly against his palm.
"I’m speaking to you, Robin Norris. Do your friends call you by some other name, a nickname?"
"I don’t know any Robin Norris," she said, her voice peeved.
"What is your name?"
Jordan knew from his own experience—he had done it just last night with Robin—how easy it was to make a deep trance subject forget her own name. But he had never read or heard of a hypnotic subject spontaneously forgetting her own name and assuming a new identity.
"Do you know what today’s date is?"
"And the year?"
"And what is the date of your birth?"
"July 11, 1953."
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