The Breaking Point
On Wednesday morning David was in an office in the city. He sat forward on the
edge of his chair, and from time to time he took out his handkerchief and wiped
his face or polished his glasses, quite unconscious of either action. He was in his
best suit, with the tie Lucy had given him for Christmas.
Across from him, barricaded behind a great mahogany desk, sat a small man
with keen eyes and a neat brown beard. On the desk were a spotless blotter, an
inkstand of silver and a pen. Nothing else. The terrible order of the place had at
first rather oppressed David.
The small man was answering a question.
"Rather on the contrary, I should say. The stronger the character the greater the
David pondered this.
"I've read all you've written on the subject," he said finally. "Especially since the
The psycho-analyst put his finger tips together, judicially. "Yes. The war bore me
out," he observed with a certain complacence. It added a great deal to our
literature, too, although some of the positions are not well taken. Van Alston, for
instance - "
"You have said, I think, that every man has a breaking point."
"Absolutely. All of us. We can go just so far. Where the mind is strong and very
sound we can go further than when it is not. Some men, for instance, lead lives
that would break you or me. Was there - was there such a history in this case?"
"Yes." Doctor David's voice was reluctant.
"The mind is a strange thing," went on the little man, musingly. "It has its censors,
that go off duty during sleep. Our sternest and often unconscious repressions
pass them then, and emerge in the form of dreams. But of course you know all
that. Dream symbolism. Does the person in this case dream? That would be
interesting, perhaps important."
"I don't know," David said unhappily.
"The walling off, you say, followed a shock?"
"Shock and serious illness."