Disclaimer: Oh, fine. I admit it. Jonathan Crane belongs to me. He's being kept in a small, dark cage at my house on a diet of lollipops until I fatten him up and EAT HIM.
The Art of Manipulation
It is poetic, comparing control to puppets on strings. A little jerk here, a little nudge there. Humans become marionettes with limp and broken bodies mindlessly following hands accustomed to leading. It isn't terribly hard, in stories, to snap a girl up in deceptions or twist some poor sap to submission. It never is.
Jonathan Crane knows better. Frequently, people are strong. People struggle and fight and draw upon hidden reserves. His findings are recorded in a spiral notebook—green, because that was first in line on the shelf when he'd bought it. His handwriting is legible but not very neat. A scrawl bound between lines, threatening to explode messily when he grows excited but generally obedient.
Fear is like that. His patients are like that. Organized, predictable, and cooperative in standard environments. Why shouldn't they be? But add a dose of pathos, an element of adrenaline, something threatening, something abnormal and they panic. Or start to, at any rate. Nervousness is quiet. Terror is loud. Interestingly, dread is quiet too. Bell patterns emerge, with a central peak in reaction and reclusion on either end. Repeat too often and subjects wear out. Repeat just enough, and they enter a state of vulnerability. Volatility. Susceptibility.
And there is where puppets lose credibility. In his favorite experiments, Jonathan selects only those who he considers equal. The clever, the stubborn, the resilient. The brave. Individuals who have faced hardship already and overcome. They offer room for neither delicacy nor ham-fisted violence. He must become as Machiavelli describes—feared and loved all at once. A lover, a tormentor, a father, an executioner. Tip the balance too far and obedience ceases to be unquestioning. Adoration fades. Hate overwhelms horror or dissolves into apathy.
He breaks himself over and over again through them, but still hasn't obtained that dominance perfected in Arlen, Georgia. A town brutally sophisticated in its methods. Does he need cooperation from the masses? Young children to traumatize? No, no…because as truth stands there is only one Jonathan Crane. And his trial is already over.