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Greater Minds

Posted on Sun Aug 12th, 2018 @ 4:44pm by Lieutenant Benjamin Ingram Dr & Ensign T'Niam

Mission: Preflight
Location: Counsellor's Office
Timeline: MD 35, 1600 Hours

This was a waste of time.

Ingram could see the reasoning behind spot checking the engine room, the torpedo room, even the shuttle bay and deflector control. It all made sense because those systems were what made the ship function. Without them the Palatine was turned into a rather oddly proportioned Starbase.

But an inspection of the Counselling department...was there likely to be such a thing as a psychiatric emergency? 'Quick! We have a Code Purple, a Petty Officer in the Mess has a case of the Mondays!' Maybe the crash carts here came with warm blankets and ice cream? In which case the inspection would be much more enjoyable, if still somewhat tedious.

He opened the door, stepped into the counselling offices, and cleared his throat.

T'Niam slowly paced the length of the counselling office area, typing a report. She had commenced her baseline assessments as soon as she boarded the ship, and after each and every one she made her notes immediately. Despite the formidable Vulcan memory, she preferred to ensure the data was appropriately recorded without delay, allowing her to concentrate completely on her next interview.

Crewman Whitelaw had been very co-operative, but also exhibited signs of anxiety during their conversation. The man had returned to his duties with palpable relief, leaving T'Niam to consider if his reaction was the result of concern at being interviewed at all, the fact that he was speaking with a Vulcan, or the result of a natural state of anticipation regarding their launch. There had been insufficient time to delve deeper given the parameters of their meeting. The hushed hiss of the door opening was enough to notify T'Niam that she was no longer alone and she turned as he cleared his throat. The Vulcan woman blinked sedately at Lieutenant Ingram. Lieutenant, not Doctor, as this was not an informal occasion. "Lieutenant Ingram," she greeted him calmly. "I believe it is traditional to welcome a guest to an area they have not previously visited."

"Quite true. I've never had the need to call on the services of the Counselling Offices of any of my postings. But as Executive Officer, it is my duty to ensure we're meeting the correct levels of excellence. Upholding of standards and so forth," he said, looking around. "To be fair I'm not entirely sure what sort of level of standards I'm looking for here. In an Engineering room, I'd be looking at log books and safety records. Here, looking at the records would get me thrown in the brig for breach of privacy."

T'Niam accepted Lieutenant Ingram's words with no outward reaction save to blink. "Of course, sir. We are most gratified by your concern," she told the man evenly. "While it is accurate that our files are unavailable due to counselor-patient confidentialty, I am sure we can find an acceptable method by which you may measure our performance." She tilted her head at the man, face completely neutral. "Perhaps you would accompany me into my office." She gestured towards her own door. "There are several standards we are held to in the Counselling department. It would please me to acquaint you with them."

Ingram nodded and followed her into the office, looking around.

"I would be delighted if you could acquaint me with these standards. As a scientist I can appreciate this for the learning opportunity it is, a sort of interdepartmental anthropology if you will," he chuckled.

T'Niam's lips twitched at the show of humour from the First Officer. "Indeed, a department is effectively a constructed cultural system with given norms and values. As such, perhaps this visit can be classified as 'living among the natives'." She claimed her PADD from where it sat on her desk. "Starfleet acquires its standards from the Federation Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care," T'Niam explained, bringing up the requisite file and sending it to Lieutenant Ingram's with a flick of her fingers. The document was publicly available and therefore simple to share.

"Huum..." he said thoughtfully, as he looked down at his PADD as the files downloaded and opened before him. "If you have a minute or two, I'll read this. I have a speed reading index of 5, not quite the Vulcan standard of a 7 but I make do."

He hummed quietly to himself, fingers flicking on screen as he devoured the Quality in Health Care document.

"Done," he said with a tap of his fingers. "I'll be honest the medical terminology is a mystery to me, but the broad strokes are there. We'll start with the counselling rooms, and move to the clinican area. I'm sure nothing out of the ordinary will alight before us, but these checks must be carried out."

It was curious how he felt the need to compare his own mental faculties to those her people. "Of course," T'Niam answered neutrally, allowing him to finish in his own time. "Our rooms are broadly assigned to specific counsellors to make identification of the correct room easier for patients who may be experiencing stressors that impact cognitive function," she told him as she guided him towards the first one, which was directly to the right of hers. "Each is fitted with soundproofing to ensure privacy." The room itself, when the door opened, was quite far from clinical in appearance. "Environment plays an important role in our work. It is designed to make our patients feel at ease." There were comfortable-looking single chairs, an inviting couch, soothing paintings on the wall and a viewport that could be made opaque as required.

Benjamin walked around the room, inspecting the panelling as he wrappe his knuckles against it. Appearing to prove of the sound deadening qualities, he eyed the painting. He reached out and touched it, his fingers passing through the holographic projection with a nod.

"Good, a tailored environment is key I've been told," he said, eyeing the vista of the painting. "Tell me Dr T'Niam, what sort of experience have you had with serious neurological dysfunction? Dissasotive disorders, catatonia, those sort of things."

He turned and bathed her in the warmth of a smile.

"I'm curious."

"I believe you are confusing psychology with psychiatry, Lieutenant," T'Niam pointed out gently. "Dissociative disorders and catatonia are primarily managed by a psychiatrist, due to the medicinal requirements of managing the disorder. Should you wish to discuss psychiatry with Doctor Varja, I am confident he will gladly answer your queries." The Andorian psychiatrist clearly found great fulfilment in his chosen career path. "I specialise in psychotherapy. I have extensive experience with behavioural, cognitive, humanistic, existential, psychodynamic, systemic, and telepathic therapies where such are warranted." The Vulcan watched the man mildly. "My qualifications as a physician are limited solely to Vulcans."

"A pity..." Ingram said, placing the name of Dr Varja at the top of his mental to-do list. "Ingram nanoScale Systems, my family's company, has a few subsidiaries that focus on that particular spectrum of mental disorder. They run into a few roadblocks so if you could arrange a quiet meeting with myself and Dr Varja, when it is suitable for your department, I would be quite in your debt."

T'Niam mentally filed away Lieutenant Ingram's interest in psychiatry in relation to a family enterprise for later contemplation. "I am familiar with the company. I understand it to be quite successful from a profitability standpoint," she remarked. "I will apprise Doctor Varja of your desire to meet with him, and he will contact you." She regarded him curiously. "I assure you, Lieutenant, we do not keep score in the counselling department. Is this a habit in other departments?"

Benjie chuckled.

"Merely a human expression of thanks. You help me, I help you, it's human way: cooperation instead of competition. And thank you, INS isn't quite up there with Lockheed Planitia and Phobos Fuels, but they are very good at what they do. Scientific instrumentation, the odd funded expedition," he smiled warmly. "But here, well Starfleet builds their ships for exploration and scientific advancement. Someone wants to be in the place where history gets made, you have to wear the uniform correct?"

T'Niam inclined her head in thanks for the explanation. "An interesting assertion. I have observed this behaviour in the past, yet have found that in a high number of cases the 'debt' in question is not considered valid and redeemable and appears to be a case of Human manners rather than serious intent to assist at a future point in time." She found the contrast fascinating, the difference between word and action. "Is there a nuance I am unaware of that informs the recipient of the difference?"

"The nuance is in the individual you speak with. If they are solid moral character and breeding, the debt is sincere. If instead, they are of a low sort, then one might expect the assertion of future repayment to be less than honest. But an Ingram is bound by his word. Call it pride if you like," he said. "Or maybe you would prefer to see it as some sort of high primate behaviour still echoing through from our evolutionary past. Some sort of abstraction of hierarchy?"

T'Niam tilted her head a little, watching Lieutenant Ingram with visible interest. "Your explanation begs the question of how humans are ranked in terms of breeding. The characteristics that are required to ensure one is trustworthy must be genetically measurable in order for such judgements and delineations to be made accurately. This implies that truthfulness is a matter of nature, not nurture, yet you state that moral character is a factor. This seems counterintuitive. Would you agree, Lieutenant?" She fixed the man with an expectant look.

"I would agree. It is why, so often in human history, when a small group tries to raise itself above the masses, and claim superiority over others, they are cried down by similar groups from outside their class. The Nazi's for instance, or the Eugenic madness that led to World War 3. We are all capable of being trustworthy, but enforcing trust can only lead to sorrow," Ingram glanced at a wall chronometer. "Would you look at that: all these intellectually stimulating discussions have left me somewhat short on time. Unless you have something pressing to tell me, I should depart."

T'Niam regarded Lieutenant Ingram for a long moment and inclined her head in agreement. "I have no matters that require you attention, sir. I wish you a pleasant day."


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