Disclaimer: I do not own, nor did I create, any of the A-team characters (main or support) nor do I own, nor did I create, any of the episodes. That credit is due to Stephen J. Cannell and his associates. Any familiar catch phrases or settings also belong to the Cannell team.
Also for the record: Max Morgan was the name given to the character George Peppard played on the tv show Matlock. Created by Dean Hargrove. Starring Andy Griffith Originally Aired: 1986-1995. It was Peppards last tv role before his death. I did not create the name, although my character bearing that name, is in no way based on Mr. Hargrove's and Associates' character.
Spoiler Alert: References characters, locations, plot, and revelations from episode 7 season 2 "The Taxicab Wars. Also alludes to Season 2 Episodes 1-6: "Diamonds and Dust" "Recipe for Heavy Bread" "Only Church in Town" "Bad Time on the Border" and "When You Comin' Back Range Rider?" Dr. A.M Richter appears in Season 4 Episode 11 "The Doctor is Out"
All above material belongs to Stephen J Cannell and his associates.
Author's Notes: in "Taxicab Wars" Face is extremely down on Murdock's antics and creation of Captain Cab. I always found this characteristically incongruous which made me wonder what motivated Face to behave that way. This piece is my attempt to quell my own questions.
This will be a dialogue heavy chapter but I felt that's what was required for this section of the story.
Summary: Hannibal speaks with Dr. Richter about Murdock's sanity.
Always Their Captain: by LAGC
Chapter Three: Discussing the Problem
Dr. Morgan entered Dr. Richter's office once his knock had been greeted with an invitation to come in.
"Hello, Dr. Richter. I'm Dr. Morgan. I'm doing research about war trauma on our veterans and I've been told to speak with you."
"How do you do Dr. Morgan? You've been referred to me?"
"Yes Doctor. You see...off the record now...I've had it implied to me that you have quite a lot of experience in this area. And it's been indicated that you have... a particularly applicable case study... from which to draw your conclusions and inputs."
"Oh, I see. Do sit down Dr. Morgan, and let's see if I can be of any value to your research."
As Hannibal took the indicated chair, he accidentally pushed a stack of files off Richter's desk. Apologizing Hannibal picked them up and slipped Murdock's file into the pile, near the top. The psychiatrist then neatened the pile, his index finger lingering on the tab labeled Murdock.
"Well as you know war trauma as you referred to it, has gone by several descriptors over the years: shell shock, battle fatigue, combat exhaustion. Now the nomenclature is PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. Sadly many of the residents here are coping with this disorder as well as myriad companion conditions." explained Richter.
"Yes, yes quite the epidemic almost. What are your approaches to treatment?" asked Hannibal-Morgan.
"I tend toward one on one therapy sessions supported by medication as necessary. In the proper circumstances group therapy as well."
"If you had to cite 'hypothetical' symptoms from, say your key patient, what would they be?"
"Well you of course realize I can't share specific details about any one patient without his or her written consent. But in broad generalities I would say my key patient exhibits all the common flags of PTSD: nightmares, bouts of withdrawal, anxiety, states of hyperarousal."
"Have your approaches been successful with this patient?"
At this point Richter looked Hannibal-Morgan dead in the eye and smiled conspiratorially, "I'd say they've been very effective. and continue to, unless the said patient realizes the success and then exerts a lot of energy into orchestrating a remission."
"Come again, Doc?"
"This patient is, in my opinion, highly motivated to maintain his status as a resident patient. He demonstrates strides to reclaiming his mental health but does not want to live independently of this facility. So, usually around official evaluation times, he deliberately engages in abnormal behaviors to maintain his residency here. In fact, during these events, his displays of delusional behaviors are quite dramatic."
"Why would he do such a thing?"
"Well first off you need to understand this. I accept the precept that a PTSD diagnosis requires a triggering event. Now as our residents are all military vets the common assumption is that the horrors on the battlefield yielded this triggering event. That was my initial premise when I first began treating this particular patient. He'd been here for about a year prior to my arrival. He was in a deep depression with high levels of anxiety and intermittent memory lapses. His previous doctors had prescribed heavy medication as well as shock treatments."
"You seem to disagree with this approach." Hannibal interjected when Richter paused.
"My approach is much more talk therapy. Thus that is how I approached this patient. I kept pushing him to discuss his war zone experiences. I believe that discussing the traumatic events helps my patients to cope with their memories and regain control, thereby desensitizing them to the anxiety caused by their pasts. As I was saying, I took this approach with my key patient. He's extremely intelligent and intuitive. He was quite cagey during our sessions. He'd tell me just enough about his experiences to make our sessions go smoothly yet I saw no real progress. After a few months I finally noticed the key. In reviewing my notes to write up his evaluation it finally jumped out at me. My patient habitually repeated two phrases: You've got to stay with your unit, & We all go out together or not at all."
Dr. Richter paused and took a sip of his coffee, whilst once again staring openly and meaningfully at Hannibal. He then continued, "At this point I decided to personally review my patients military records. I requested them and read, no scoured, the file once I received it. That's when I discovered the key."
"And what was it?" asked Hannibal not even trying to maintain his cover character.
"My patient had been part of an elite combat team. Their pilot specifically. Toward the end of the war he was injured during an attack on base whilst they were out on a mission. His injuries kept him separated from his team just as they were arrested for robbery. They were sent to trial, convicted, and sent to military prison. My patient, being hospitalized was forcibly and permanently separated from them. He didn't even get to say good-bye"
"You feel that was important information to learn?" interjected Hannibal
"Yes. That, I believe, was the event that traumatized my patient. The forced and presumably permanent separation from his combat team."
"Have you tested your theory by discussing his Team with your patient?"
Richter leaned back into his leather desk chair and folded his hands in his lap then solemnly replied, "That is the one topic my patient will not discuss. He won't go near it."
"Very interesting. Have you tried to facilitate communication between your patient and his team? That is if you think such a thing might help him?" Hannibal cautiously asked.
"I do and I would, but alas that's not possible. His teammates promptly escaped from their military prison and have disappeared into the LA underground. I have little hope of a reunion for these men. I theorize that my patient deliberately works to remain a resident here, in the hopes that his teammates will be able to find him and come for him. So... for now, I indulge his deception."
"Many would consider your treatment plan misguided but I admire your approach." Hannibal said.
"Seeing his team mates would mean the world to my patient." Richter sounded so genuine in his concern for Murdock.
"Thank you for your time Dr. Richter. I've found it very informative." Hannibal shook Richter's hand gratefully.
"I certainly hope you have, Sir." answered Richter, with a conspiratorial smile again on his lips.
Once Hannibal shut the office door he leaned against the wall and released a deep sigh. He felt a great load lifting off at least one shoulder. But he knew he wasn't in the clear just yet.
# # ##
Reference material for Richter's and Hannibal's discussion
PTSD: National Center for PTSD on the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
You'll also note that Richter has a particular line that is a close paraphrase of the opening narration of the series. Again for disclaimer/infringement purposes. The opening narration was not created by me and belongs to Stephen J. Cannell and his Associates.