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Bad Medicine

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Author: Robert Sheckley
Published: 1956
Language: English
Wordcount: 5,704 / 25 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 73.7
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 12,358 6384
License: ©

The classic SF story wherein a man is mistakenly treated by a Martian psychotherapy machine. Copyright (c) 2003 by Robert Sheckley, originally published 1956.

Show Excerpt

ed iron.

"What do you want?" Lieutenant Smith asked.

The ugly man flipped back his lapel, showing a small silver badge beneath. "I'm John Rath, General Motors Security Division."

"Oh ... Sorry, sir," Lieutenant Smith said, saluting. "I didn't think you people would move in so fast."

Rath made a noncommittal noise. "Have you checked for prints, Lieutenant? The customer might have touched some other therapy machine."

"I'll get right on it, sir," Smith said. It wasn't often that one of the operatives from GM, GE, or IBM came down to take a personal hand. If a local cop showed he was really clicking, there just might be the possibility of an Industrial Transfer....

Rath turned to Follansby and Haskins, and transfixed them with a gaze as piercing and as impersonal as a radar beam. "Let's have the full story," he said, taking a notebook and pencil from a shapeless pocket.

He listened to the tale in ominous silence. Finally he closed his notebook, thrust it back into his pocket and said, "The th

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 3.8 from 4 reviews: ****
Sardo Weems

A fairly funny story about a homicidal man who recognizes he's mentally ill and purchases a therapy machine. Caswell is a good character, everyone else is a stereotypical salesman, bureaucrat, cop, or detective.

It seems to be mainly a satire on therapists. I liked the ending.

Dulaya Saennok

I agree with Leah A. Zeldes. I read the story a few months ago. Not until today, I didn't even remember I read it. The story is good but not great. You won't regret reading it, but you won't have a blast reading it either.


Robert Sheckley's stories are usually pretty amusing and this is no exception. It is considered a classic. A schizophrenic man has an irresistible compulsion to murder his best friend, Magnesson. He realizes he is disturbed, and goes in to buy a therapy machine. They are made by General Motors. (that's good for a laugh if nothing else is in this story). He exits with a floor model which the noob salesman doesn't know is designed to give only Martian aliens therapy.
He takes it home and interacts. The therapy machine doesn't understand. It thinks the problem is that he doesn't honor his Gloricae, the tree that nourished him from birth. He replies "no tree nourished me" And so on.
but therapy is completed, and.......Well, you'll just have to read what happened. 5 stars for being a 50's classic short story that has endured, and good for a yuk or two.

Leah A. Zeldes

A man turns to a psychotherapy machine for help ... but it's the wrong machine. Forgettable.



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Author of the Day

Morgan L. Busse
Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series and the award-winning steampunk series, The Soul Chronicles. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel. As our Author of the Day, Morgan tells us all about her latest book, Tainted.
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