"It's a nice demonstration of the placebo effect," the psychiatrist says to the woman on his couch, scooting his chair over to the large glass door that leads to the garden. A cat stands on the other side of the door, rubbing itself against the glass. The psychiatrist touches his fingers to the glass, stroking where the cat has pressed its ginger body, and the cat purrs deeply, as if it were really being touched. "I'm allergic to cats, actually, so this is a nice arrangement for me," he adds.
The woman smiles. "It's cute," she shrugs. "But fifty dollars an hour for cat analogies? I'd rather we talked about my marriage."
"Let's talk about the imaginary friends instead. It's where I was going with the cat, you know. You're aware that they aren't real, yet interacting with these false personas gives you more satisfaction than your actual relationships. Why is that, do you think?"
"Oh, I don't want to talk about that. I only mentioned it anecdotally."
"Then why see a psychiatrist? It's symptomatic of something, you know, these delusions. Social anxiety syndrome, maybe. Mild aspergers. Let's work with this, Sheila. Tell me when it began."
"Look, I just wanted somebody to talk about my marriage with. I don't have any real friends outside of my husband."
"Well, why not just talk to your imaginary friends about it? Why come to me? You're beginning to realize yourself that you've got to connect to the world outside your own person. It's indicative of understanding that you can't fulfill your own needs for companionship. It's a positive thing, Sheila."
The woman smiles again, and stretches her arms pensively.
"Honey, the Ryersons are here," calls a voice from outside the room. "I've been raving to them about that pot roast of yours!" The woman stands up and, shutting the door of the empty room behind her, goes to join her husband.