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The concept of shyness, said Dr. Flaminio S. — a psychiatrist known worldwide for his extraordinary psychoanalytic studies on the erotic films of Ornella Muti — and the definition of it, have varied over the years. There are extroverts and introverts. The issue is in the range of transitory variations from one state to another.

It is common to observe in the environment individuals who seem to be extroverts — but are really introverts, and struggling with it. The truth is, at present, it is not possible to say for sure what it means to be shy and what its clinical characteristics are. Every ‘shy’ is unique.

This paragraph was read by Alejandra when she got out of the bathroom, while she was waiting for dinner. She extracted it from a magazine called We Are All Crazy. Alejandra was obsessed with madness. She felt that from one moment to the next, due to strange influences, and above all because of her shyness, she could push the limits of sanity. This feeling had been accentuated for some time now. It was because she met Clemente.

When she encountered him somewhere, her hands would start to sweat, her feet, her stockings would slide on their own, her skin would turn pale, her lips would become dry, her heart would stop for a few seconds — and then it would begin to beat at the rhythm of a gallop. Her legs trembled, she felt things spinning, her pupils dilated, her ears turned purple, her skin prickled and she became mentally confused — sometimes losing consciousness, This led to an eye examination, during which they found a portrait of a man who, after intense inquiries, turned out to be Clemente.

Fortunately, Alejandra knew how to get away from this ‘danger zone.’ She had to see Clemente. Cleverly, Alejandra decided to treat her disorder with a psychiatrist. This expert in matters of the heart and other love pathologies emphasised that she should, indeed, look for this man and talk to him — in order to overcome her problem. Unfortunately the psychiatrist did not instruct her on what issues she could discuss with him — nor what her attitude should be.

One day, Alejandra met Clemente in a shopping centre and, without much ado, she invited him to have coffee. On that occasion — and on other occasions — Alejandra spoke to him about various topics such as the heart problems of an Ecuadorian indigenous tribe in the 16th century; of the history of the hairstyle through the centuries; of the influence of heavy rock on crimes of passion; of the collective suicides that occurred in times of war; of the healing properties of lemon and onion; of the concessions of the butler of Julio Iglesias; of anti-drug campaigns; of the formation of clouds; of the astrological predictions for the following year. (Of course, Alejandra had to nourish herself intellectually at night in order to develop such speeches.)

One day, Clemente touched on the subject of love. Alejandra told him the opinions of José Ortega y Gasset, of Mirá y López — also of Schopenhauer. She told him that she preferred the appreciations of Mirá and López. She spoke of the demon ‘Jealousy’ and commented on the selfishness that it reflected. She referred to the novel Carmen by Mérimée. As she spoke, Clemente approached her provocatively…

At a certain point, Alejandra declared: If you provoke me to fight, I am ready to fight. Clemente invited her to a river and Alejandra responded with a song by Simón Díaz: Mercedes is bathing on the banks of a river / My eyes are looking at it, but it’s from a friend of mine / I don’t want to look at her, but it’s not my fault. / It looks like an emerald with flowers of chupa chupa / That I warn my friend, it is very difficult for me…

Clemente, desperately asked her for a kiss and Alejandra began to sing: Aha, aha, aha, ahaaa / you won’t be able to get me out of your mind when you go to kiss…

Clemente, jaded, got up and left. Alejandra remained, singing:

My love,
Quiet, I’m not going to bother you
My destiny was marked
And I know there is a torrent running through your mind

Now you see, life is this way
You’re leaving, and I stay here
It will rain, I wont be yours
I’ll be the cat in the rain
And I’ll meow for you

My love,
Quiet, I’m not going to bother you
If you see a tear falling, I’m sorry
I know that you never wanted to make a cat cry.

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com