Disclaimer: I don't own Artemis Fowl either
Today Artemis had settled on kleptomania. He had considered trying for something a little more inventive, but this was a new physiatrist and he wanted room to escalate. That generally made things more entertaining and facilitated the hapless doctors' breakdown. Ideally he wouldn't be seeing anyone at all, but after his treatment of St. Bartleby's counsellors, the school had given his mother the ultimatum of professional help or expulsion. The only reason that Artemis had capitulated was that he had decided that the only way he was going to be free of these 'professionals' was to break a succession of them, until either they refused to treat him or his mother gave up out of compassion.
When he entered the psychiatrist's room he gravitated towards the bookshelf. Aside from the psychological texts, there was a healthy collection indicative of somewhat eclectic tastes. While it was likely there for show, there were a couple of obscure titles that Artemis couldn't help but approve of. The psychiatrist himself was reading over some notes.
Artemis took a seat and uttered a long-suffering sigh. The other was probably going to keep reading his notes as a way to gain the upper hand and try and demonstrate that Artemis was beneath him in some way. It was childish and highly ineffective. He was almost relieved that the man looked up as soon as Artemis sat. He picked up a clipboard with a crisp sheet of paper fastened to it. Then he sat back and watched Artemis, clearly waiting for him to initiate. It was almost refreshing. Then again, it might have been a more subtle game.
"I assume that you know how infantile staring contests are?" Artemis finally began.
The psychiatrist made a brief note on his clipboard and then looked up again. Artemis' expression was completely neutral. Then the psychiatrist offered his own long-suffering sigh that was a passable imitation of Artemis'.
The psychiatrist spoke. "You might as well help yourself to a book, as it is your time that we're wasting."
"You don't consider this a waste of your time?" Artemis enquired.
"Oh no," the psychiatrist replied offhand. "I'm getting paid."
Artemis thought for a moment before allowing his face to crumple into a look of abject sorrow. He had found that most psychiatrists had established themselves out of a desire to help others and that this expression went straight to their hindbrains.
"I just feel so alone, sometimes the burden of intellect separates…" Artemis trailed off when the doctor made another brief note on his clipboard and then went back to looking at him. His expression was bored and he was clearly unconvinced.
Artemis sighed again. A part of him knew it was logical to simply take up the offer of the bookshelf and occupy himself. But he had this irrational desire to compete. There was something about the individual before him that he found highly irritating. Then again, that was probably his intent.
"May I enquire after your notes?" Artemis began.
"Of course, I am merely noting your defence mechanisms for my own amusement. I have two so far and I'm expecting another one shortly."
Artemis smirked. "Oh of course, let us all worship at the glorious might of the psychiatrist that can recognise defence mechanisms. That skill couldn't possibly be replicated by a high school psychology student."
The psychiatrist made another brief note and held up three fingers. Artemis just managed to keep the scowl off his face. He was being mocked.
The psychiatrist looked up again. "Look, you're obviously very smart, would you like to sit here for the hour and tell me just how smart you are?"
Artemis did in fact scowl this time.
"May I ask you a question?" The psychiatrist enquired.
"Please do," Artemis replied, keeping his voice level.
"Are you aware of the theory that children under the age of four are psychopaths?"
"It makes intuitive sense, but I was unaware that it was something as credible as a 'theory'," Artemis scoffed.
The psychiatrist waved away the comment. "The experiment was that children under the age of four were shown a box with something in it. They were asked if they knew what was in the box. Obviously the answer was no. Another child in the room was pointed out and again the children were asked if that other child in the corner knew what was in the box, the answer was no, once again."
Artemis nodded. He could see where this was going.
"The initial child was shown a figurine in the box, the child in the corner was not."
Artemis interrupted. "And then when asked if they knew what was in the box the answer was yes. However the significant result was that when asked if the child in the corner knew what was in the box they said yes, despite the fact that there was no way for that child to know it. Therefore they could not separate the perceptions of others from their own. In short, people were not seen as autonomous individuals. That is a key symptom of psychopathy." Artemis paused. "You wouldn't be the first to diagnose me as a psychopath, but you are the first persons to attribute it to my age and underdevelopment."
"Do you really think that that is the point I am trying to make?" The psychiatrist asked.
Artemis sighed. "Probably not."
"I was actually going to ask you a question about psychopathy. I was merely setting up a background."
"Then you really should have said that you were going to ask me two questions earlier." Artemis smiled, but motioned for him to continue.
"Very well. You explain empathy to a psychopath, who responds with a simple question, why would anyone want to feel empathy? Assuming that your goal is to convince him or her that empathy is a good thing, what would you say?"
Artemis blinked. He was used to roundabout questions that were mostly clumsy attempts to pry into his childhood or attempts uncover his underlying personality traits. This question was genuinely interesting and not all that easy to answer.
"How about you go and think about it and give me your answer next time you're here," the doctor suggested.
Artemis started. "It hasn't been an hour," he explained without looking at his watch. There were no other visible clocks in the room.
"Well, either way I get paid for the hour. Besides, I would think that you'd be glad to get away."
Artemis scrutinised the psychiatrist as he rose. The psychiatrist also rose to escort him to the door. At the door, Artemis couldn't help but needle the doctor one more time.
"So, you've read my file then," he asserted as he stepped over the threshold.
"No. Reading lists of other people's mistakes makes me depressed," the psychiatrist replied in a deadpan voice. Artemis turned and raised an eyebrow, but the good doctor simply closed the door.
Round one to the psychiatrist then.