Dr. Edwin Feliciano, a self-proclaimed “psychiatrist” at UCSB, today appears to be attempting a séance in the pages of the Nexus, and reports to us a story told by the dead. Let us refer to the ghostly narrator as “Edwin”:
I am dead.
In the words of one commenter, “Cool story, bro.”
But how did Edwin die?
“What’s one pill, man?” said my friend. “People take six of those a day for pain.” I looked at it. It was white, oval-shaped and promised a good time. Two hours later I was in bed, unable to breathe. My friends thought I was just passed out—something that happens a lot at college parties. Hell, I had seen it so many times too! Why would something go wrong then?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Edwin isn’t the brightest bulb, but it’s rather alarming that Dr Feliciano doesn’t pause in his spirit-channeling to point out that there are rather a lot of reasons why something would go wrong when a person passes out at a party. I can only assume that the good doctor knows something we don’t (and I guess that’s to be expected, given that he’s the one who can commune with the dead).
When the doctors discussed my “case” after I died, one doc said, “This is outrageous. Too many kids die from this. How stupid can a person be?” I was angry, but I hung around and listened to their “expert analysis.”
“Expert” is rightly enclosed in quotation marks, because these doctors probably don’t even believe in ghosts. But more interesting are the quotes around “case”. What is Dead Edwin trying to tell us? Was there no real case? Let us proceed with caution, dear reader.
The dead man’s story continues with some bizarrely pedagogic ruminations on his so-called case, and the claim that “what I learned may help you stay alive.” That’s a rather strange thing to tell a doctor, but Edwin Feliciano apparently doesn’t realize that a passed-out person might be in trouble, so I suppose he could use the advice.
As we reach the conclusion, though, a careful reader gets the impression that this is not the monologue of a normal (if deceased) 19-year-old:
The rest of the explanation got too technical for me. By then, I didn’t care to understand the “physiological” causes of my death. It boiled down to this: there is a difference between what you feel psychologically—relaxed, buzzed, happy—and what your body is experiencing internally. While it may be easy to gauge your mood, alcohol and drugs are accumulating in your system at a rate faster than your body can metabolize them. The fact is that the effects are delayed, so when you have one more shot, or an Adderall, or a Norco, you’re creating a unique, often deadly cocktail in your body. That’s what happened to me. I got the message too late, which is, very simply, that mixing drugs will kill you, period.
I should have stayed home watching the Sixers play the Knicks and having a few beers with my friends. I didn’t, as you now know, but you have a choice.
This sounds less like the lament of a soul who is mourning the loss of its body than a school psychiatrist who is insulting the intelligence of his patients by making obviously false claims that lead students to dismiss his advice—and therefore be more likely to make risky decisions—instead of explaining accurately how common drugs interact and urging young people to educate themselves about the effects of what they put in their bodies.
So maybe ghosts don’t exist after all. They’re just another thing Dr Feliciano made up to scare us.