It is fundamental to the method by which we are able to exert our control that we maintain a heightened state of anxiety, in you. When we keep you on edge you are unable to function properly. You are not in a position to challenge what we do, either in your own mind or by confronting us. We want you on tenterhooks and feeling uncertain. One method by which I would achieve this would be the use of sudden noises. I would choose a moment when the other person is sat quietly, perhaps reading a book or watching television. The house is quiet and I can see that you are relaxed. I will exit the room and perhaps go upstairs where I will slam a couple of doors or stamp on the floor and then return to where you are.
“What was that bang?” you ask as I enter the room again.
“A bang?” I answer with a quizzical look on my face.
“Yes, there was a loud bang from upstairs, did you not hear it?”
I shake my head and watch as you frown.
“I am sure I heard it, like something hitting the floor.”
I shake my head again.
“No, I was just in the kitchen but I did not hear anything.”
I sit down and watch as you get up to explore and try and find out what the source of the noise was. You will not find any evidence that will help you in your quest because I stamped on the floor above the living room three times. There is nothing broken or damaged which would give you some clue as to what has happened. You return to your seat puzzled at this noise and resume the task you were engaged in. Throughout the day I intermittently make sudden noises, loud and designed to make you jump. I slam some doors, bang on the floor when upstairs and let the sash windows bang shut. Each time I deny hearing the noise as you pad about the house trying to find out what the source of the sudden noise was. I can see that it is getting to you. You are wandering around, peering about the house in an earnest fashion as if expecting some intruder to be stood there banging two pieces of wood together. You keep asking me if I have heard anything. On each occasion I deny it. I never let you catch me generating the noise and each time I am trying hard not to laugh as you keep asking me whether I have heard the noise. You question whether it is the neighbours but I point out that they are away for the weekend. I continue with this campaign through the night, slipping from the bed and making something topple over so you wake up with a start. Sometimes I wake up and shout out loud and then pretend to be asleep as you grip me, frightened by the sudden noise. Every time I feign ignorance and then begin to demonstrate irritation towards you because you keep waking me up and disturbing my sleep. By the following day you look terrible. You have barely slept, left on the edge by these intermittent noises which take on even greater sharpness and effect in the dead of night. I continue to cause these sudden bangs and crashes and always deny hearing them. I point out that you must be hearing things and the fact you look exhausted shows you must be having some kind of psychotic episode. You keep on asking me how I have not heard anything but every time I shake my head and deny hearing these noises. I pretend to show that I care by holding you and suggesting that it might be something outside or it was only the wind as it blew past the house, slamming a window shut or knocking over the outside bin. This causes you to go to the window and stare at the bin which has not moved. You do not accept these natural explanations so I begin to suggest that it is down to you being tired and perhaps you should take some time off work but you will not agree.
“Perhaps we have a ghost?” I suggest and watch the colour drain from your face at this suggestion. I then shift to making a noise in front of you.
“That was you,” you declare as you jump in your seat.
“I know it was, I was just checking that your hearing was working okay. It obviously is.”
“But I keep hearing noises and you don’t?” you protest with a look of bewilderment.
“I know, you keep saying, perhaps you should see the doctor?”
You feel ragged and drained so you agree. I accompany you, discharging the obligation of caring partner as I sit and listen to you explaining what has been happening to the doctor. I confirm you are hearing things and the doctor wonders if you are suffering from depression and suggests monitoring the situation. You ask for something to help you sleep and I concur with the suggestion. It is all getting noted down in your records and is providing evidence that I can refer other people to in order to build this picture that there is something seriously wrong with you, that you are prone to imagining things which is all helpful in creating the picture that you are losing your mind. I continue with the behaviour, creating slams, bangs and crashes throughout the day and night until you return to the doctors begging for more medication with my supportive self, nodding away next to you. Little by little your sanity is becoming eroded by this campaign of torment and you lean on me all the while, thankful for my support and oblivious to the fact that I am the source of your anxiety. I try to soothe you, offering explanations that come from a natural source as I continue to give you a look that you are stark, staring mad.
“It is only the wind,” I tell you yet again but you look out of the window and see the branches are not moving as you sink into a chair holding your head in your hands.