Alistair McGregor, an expatriate Scottish man living in America, was recently diagnosed as clinically depressed, tanked up on anti-depressants and scheduled for controversial Shock Therapy when doctors realized he wasn't depressed at all... only Scottish.
Mr. McGregor, a Scottish man whose characteristic pessimism and gloomy perspective were interpreted as serious clinical depression, was led on a nightmare journey through the American psychiatric system.
Doctors described McGregor as suffering from Pervasive Negative Anticipation - a belief that everything will turn out for the worst, whether it's trains arriving late, Scotland's chances at winning any international sports event or even his own prospects to get ahead in life and achieve his dreams.
"The satisfaction Mr. McGregor seemed to get from his pessimism seemed particularly pathological," reported the doctors.
"They put me on everything - Lithium, Prozac, St John's Wort, Ginseng", said Mr. McGregor. "They even told me to sit in front of a big light for an hour a day or I'd become suicidal. I kept telling them this was all pointless and they said it was exactly that sort of attitude which got me here in the first place."
Running out of ideas, his doctors finally resorted to a course of "weapons grade MDMA", the only noticeable effect of which was six hours of speedy repetitions of the phrases "mustn't grumble" and "not too bad, really."
Mr. McGregor had six months of therapy but seemed to mainly want to talk about the weather - how miserable and cold it was in winter and later how difficult and wet it was in summer. The doctors felt he wasn't responding to therapy at all and so recommended drastic action - namely ECT or shock treatment.
"I was all strapped down on the table and they were about to put the rubber bit in my mouth when the psychiatric nurse picked up on my accent," said Mr. McGregor. "I remember her saying 'Oh my God, I think we're making a terrible mistake'." Nurse Alice Sheen was a big fan of Scottish comedy giving her an understanding of the Scottish psyche. "Classic comedy characters like Chick Murray, Will Fife and The Crankies, all hopeless cases with no chance of ever doing well or escaping their circumstances," she explained to the baffled US medics. "In Scotland, being depressed to the point of suicidal is considered the norm and is not seen as pathological at all." Identifying Mr. McGregor as Scottish changed his diagnosis from 'clinical depression' to 'rather quaint and charming' and he was immediately discharged from hospital, with a selection of brightly colored leaflets and an "I love New York" T-shirt.
[Thanks to Alec MacRae]
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