Shower Phobia

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For Marion, it started when she was five years old. Her parents were out on the town, for some grown-up time, and her babysitter had her boyfriend over. Marion was left to her own devices watching TV in the upstairs family room. The babysitter had put on a Disney VCR tape, but left the remote with Marion. This was in the days before the V-chip which limited what kids could watch, and as fate would have it that night, she ended up watching Alfred Hitchcock's original masterpiece, Psycho.

It was originally made in black and white, and the TV broadcast was in black and white as well. But Marion remembers it in vivid color. Especially the shower scene, with all the red blood flowing down the drain. The thing that made little Marion stop on the channel to begin with, was the name of the main character in the beginning. She and the woman in the movie had the same name.

She didn't remember anything of the movie after the shower scene. The only thing she remembers is her parents finding her in an upstairs closet, whimpering under a pile of clothes. Apparently the babysitter had tried to find her earlier. Failing to find her, she called Marion's parents. Needless to say, that babysitter was never hired again. If her parent's had known how much the lifelong counseling would have cost, they might have even sued her parents.

Janet Leigh, who played Marion in the movie, after seeing it would only take showers when she absolutely had to. Even then she would check to make sure every door and window was locked and then she would leave the bathroom door open. No longer little Marion, did the same thing. She was successful after college and a concession she made when buying her first condo, was to have a bathroom with a window into the living room, and no place for a shower curtain to hang.

In growing up, she never watched another showing for the original 1960 Psycho or any of the sequels. In fact she couldn't watch any movie or TV show with Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates. A few cruel schoolmates made fun of Marion's phobia by mimicking the screeching violins and making stabbing motions with their hands. She was reduced to tears and whimpering almost immediately. None of those schoolmates ever became her friend, and with enough people visiting the principal's office the drama stopped.

As she grew older, she read about the movie as part of the therapy to overcome its effect on her. She knew the blood was actually chocolate syrup. The shower scene that replayed forever in her mind was only two minutes long in reality. The stabbing and blood seemed so predominant, but there were only three frames that showed any knife penetration at all. Even those three frames show the knife only going in about an eighth of an inch, with no blood coming out. It was more of a subliminal hint of the carnage.

Now that a man was attacking her in the bathroom. One she did not see through her carefully placed window into the living room. A man who was obviously male and not dressed up as Norman Bate's mother, all she could do is think of movie trivia. She noted the curvy knife he wielded was more like a sacrificial knife than the kitchen knife of the movie. He mind refused to believe this was really happening. It must be a cruel joke and the knife will be made of rubber. She didn't recognize the man, but he's surely an actor, and the hidden cameras will be brought out after they say she'd been Punk'd.

But the knife went in. She felt the pain and froze. She couldn't react. She couldn't protect herself. She started to whimper as the man rose the knife to strike a second time. She felt like she was falling down a tunnel and the light of the bathroom was getting farther and farther away. Her fear of the movie wasn't unreasoning. Somehow at five, she must have known how she was destined to die.


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