— Posted in words

New Poem by Phil Wormuth and Michael W. Dean


Interview Transcript: Case Study No. 3151115


Good day. My name is Dr. Franz. I’m a board-certified psychiatrist.

I’ve been providing top class, front-line mental health treatment

here in the forensic setting to patients since the late 1950s.

I have been asked to conduct a general psychiatric evaluation with you.

Due warning: this process may exceed several hours…

Are you alright with that?



So tell me, Mr. Wilson… may I call you Hugh?

Very good.

I’m about to ask you a series of questions

designed to determine if urgent action is needed

to address your current symptoms and disposition.

May we proceed?



Many of the questions I’m about to ask

can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Others require elaboration.

Is that acceptable to you?



What is your favorite color and why?

Are you inept or just incapable?

Is it car-a-mel or caramel?

Do you scratch yourself often? Draw blood?

What’s your position on cheese?


Have you ever danced at a party

with a loaded pistol in your pants?

How do you plan to pay for your stay here?

How would you rate your level of treatment –

great, stellar, or the end?


It’s a beautiful day, what do you plan to do with it?

Describe the ideal vacation…

How long have you suffered from paranoia, diarrhea?

Ever fished without a pole or bait?

Who is the current president?

What does he/she/it stand for (if anything?)

If you found a stamped, addressed envelope on the ground, in which pocket would you put it, and why?


What famous comedian am I channeling…

“a cha, cha, cha, cha?”

It says here that you prefer tonic over seltzer water; really?

You’re Horshack Test results indicate that you have

pent-up aggression and angst – explain… now!


Apparently, at one point, you shrunk yourself down to the size

of a pea and hid yourself in the bottom of a plastic container

in a friend’s refrigerator for weeks…

Please tell me, how did you get along

with the other leftovers?

Have you ever set fire to more than one acre?

Are you at-risk to default on a home or car loan?

(If so, do you own any weapons capable of firing more than one round per minute?)


Have you ever traveled to France?

Why/why not?

Do people with two first names bother you?

(i.e.: Billy Bob, Dean Michaels, etc…)

Me Tarzan, you Jane –

any reactions?


This concludes our interview.

Thank you all for your time.



After having conducted several of these evaluative psychiatric interviews in an official capacity in a variety of settings (including county jails, emergency rooms, parking lots, and private residences), I have come to the conclusion that human behavior is as complex as it is unpredictable – paradoxical at best. Many of the questions posed in the poem bear resemblance to those found in the actual crisis assessment; more do not (for effect.) Clearly, the system is flawed and does us all a grave disservice.

1 thought on “New Poem by Phil Wormuth and Michael W. Dean”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Tragi-comic. I’d enjoy seeing you both perform this. I did find a typo in your notes that I may steal: poem bear. Gives me all sorts of images, mostly Native American. But yes, the poem reminds me of my suicide counselor’s questions: random and emanating from some spot not associated with caring. – Carolyn

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