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©2006 website by Gone West

Postcards From The Ledge

Has psychologist turned comic book writer Kevin Sielky gone mad?

©2006 GirlsandCorpses.com. All rights reserved. Reprinted only with written permission of Girls and Corpses

What do we really know about insane asylums and psych wards except for Hannibal "the cannibal" Lector's cell? What does it mean to be crazy? Were we crazy to do this interview? We recently laid on the sofa next to shrink Kevin and got our heads examined.

issue #9

G&C: Tell us, Kevin, about your unique comic book: Psych Ward Chronicles.

KS: Each issue of the comic explores on bizarre yet true psychiatric cases with a horror spin.

G&C: It's a great original idea and I understand that this comic book came from your background as a psychologist working with delusional and psychotic patients. How long did you work as psychologist?

KS: I've worked as a research psychologist, crisis counselor, hospice counselor, and clinical psychotherapist for a total of about eight years combined.

G&C: What kind of training did you have? What is your specialty?

KS: I have a B.S. in Honors Psychology, a Master's Degree in clinical psychotherapy, and about four years of post graduate education and research in clinical psychology. Additionally, my research projects have been published in numerous international neuropsychology and social psychology journals and I have given lectures on my work at conferences in Europe, Canada, and the U.S.

My specialty is in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with severe psychiatric disorders and I have a successful background in treating people with schizophrenia.

G&C: Are you still practicing?

KS: Yes, I'm currently on staff at the eighth psychiatric hospital I have worked at. This is the career I'm passionate about and wanted since 11th grade.

G&C: How are you able to tell these stories and retain confidentiality?

KS: All of my entertainment related psychiatry/psychology projects are inspired by true stories and people. I often use public domain information and when needed, I change details of a story to make it different enough so the person cannot be identified while still maintaining the spirit of the story. Sometimes, particularly in my drama writing, the character traits are combinations of more than one person.

Lastly, I do not write about patients who I have treated for my entertainment projects.

G&C: Does the Paris necrophiliac story involving one of your patients?

KS: No, this is not a patient who I personally treated.

G&C: Have you heard of other instances of necrophilia?

KS: There are numerous stories of people suffering from this condition from past to present times.

G&C: What do you think leads people towards lust for the dead?

KS: Usually with any "philia" or fetish, a significant event occurred earlier in a person's life relating to the philia content itself which psychologically imprints or arouses the person and this cognitive event stays with the person.

In this particular condition, it is common that the person had some sort of access to dead people when they were younger and somehow an arousal state occurred in them. The key to this sort of condition is not that they prefer dead people as an alternative partner once in a while, but that it becomes the only way they can become aroused in a sexual way. If they have healthy, loving relationships with living people and interact with the dead as sort of a hobby only, it does not meet the criteria of the condition.

G&C: What are some of the stranger stories you recalled hearing from your patients?

KS: I had a patient who thought I was the movie character Louis (vampire played by Brad Pitt in the movie "Interview with the Vampire") and he thought a colleague who had red hair was the Kirstin Dunst character in the same movie.

G&C: Did any of the stories you heard disturb you?

KS: I have treated thousands of severe psychiatric patients and only a couple come to mind that got me out of my usual straightforward clinical mindset. One was a pedophile who I observed identifying a younger looking adult patient as a potential victim. Previously, he said some very disturbing things in my initial interview with him. He specifically informed me that he needed to find a child to molest, in detail, with no comprehension that what he does and wants to do is wrong or illegal.

Another was a person who was the victim of rape from his/her father who was a member of the clergy. This patient became severely psychotic as an adult.

G&C: Ever need to alert the police?

KS: Yes, we are mandated to call the police when there is information about involving our patient and elder abuse, child abuse, or if the patient reports they want to cause bodily harm to someone and that intended victim does not know of the potential threat. Also if the person has possession of a gun somewhere the police are sometimes notified if we cannot track down the gun.

G&C: What do you consider crazy? Aren't we all just a little bit nuts?

KS: We in the profession do not use the term crazy or nuts. What we look for psychologically is how the behavior in question disrupts the person's daily functioning. We all have odd traits, pet peeves, superstitions, etc. which make us unique individuals and this is a good thing.

However, if for example I think the number 13 is unlucky and every time I see it somewhere I panic, scream, and run home immediately and lock myself in the bathroom. AS a result of this continuous behavior, I subsequently lose my job and my wife eventually divorces me because of this...this rises to the level of a psychiatric condition.

So, no, I do not think we are all a little bits nuts by this definition, only as I mentioned, we are unique, peculiar, and different enough to make us all interesting.

G&C: Aren't most psychologists a little "disturbed."

KS: We actually had to address this topic in graduate school.

There are three main reasons (and many smaller ones) why people pick this profession. Many people had a family member who was diagnosed and want to learn how to help them.

Some have issues themselves (maybe not severe enough to meet criteria for psychiatric diagnosis) and want to learn how to get better. The third category is sort of a miscellaneous one.

My reason is that I enjoy exploring the human mind. Some people climb mountains, some dive the vast oceans. I enjoy exploring the secret depths of the human mind.

G&C: Couldn't anyone become crazy being locked up in an institution with insane patients? Couldn't you? Once you know the causal factors and how psychiatric illness forms, you realize that being in a psychiatric facility cannot cause mental illness.

KS: As a clinician, I'm detached enough in a professional way such that I do not get affected by what goes on in any significant way. Occasionally I get annoyed more than anything else but that has little to do with a patient with mental illness. Usually it's because of someone who have a drug addiction as a primary diagnosis and maybe should not be at our hospital. They are very manipulative patients and I do not tolerate this behavior.

G&C: What is considered "normal" and "abnormal"?

KS: In our field, we do not use these terms, except maybe when talking to non-clinicians. We do not compare people to each other, it serves no purpose clinically. What we do is assess the patient's current behavior and see how it is different from their baseline (when they are at their most stable).

G&C: When will your comic books Psych Ward Chronicles be released?

KS: Psych Ward Chronicles initially was created as a showcase for a television proposal of a television series of the same name which I created. The proposal was a top-ten finalist in the 7th People's Pilot television contest. Currently, I'm trying to get the TV project picked up for production. During this time, the comic is shown to producers and executives in television only. It has spawned another project as well that I can discuss in the near future.

G&C: Who are your artists?

KS: I do all the script writing and art direction, but the wonderful artwork is done by James Hooks. He answered an ad I placed on a website and coincidentally, we are from the same hometown of Detroit. He graduated from a top art school that is across the street from where I did my undergrad and I knew I would hire him at that moment. Anyone from that school is usually hugely talented and James is no exception...he's awesome! When I discuss ideas with him and he draws them, it is like he can see inside my head. I love his work.

The comic and television version is what I call "a psychiatric horror version of Tales From The Crypt."

G&C: Do you have a website? Can we buy Psych Ward Chronicles there?

KS: Sample pages of the first issue of the comic book, future covers, biographies, a video trailer, and the hosts of the project itself can be viewed at: www.psychwardchronicles.com

Turn up your sound and explore the rooms with your cursor to find hidden things in the various rooms. Set in a haunted psychiatric hospital, each room is filled with surprises!

Additionally, I produced a DVD trailer with the help of Tom Madigan, editor, and the artwork of James Hooks.

G&C: What do you think of Girls and Corpses Magazine?

KS: As I enjoy exploring the depths of the human mind, Girls and Corpses catches my attention for sure! It's a very exciting site! Oh, and as a single guy myself, I "sort of," well, ok, I really noticed the sexy females as well!

G&C: Are we disturbed?

KS: I like to call us interesting people!

G&C: Thanks Kevin for a tour of your Psych Ward. See you there!

For more info: www.psychwardchronicles.com