James LePore: Project 52/2015: The Garden of Eden

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Photo: The Garden of Eden, © James LePore

Conversion Disorder

A conversion disorder causes patients to suffer from neurological symptoms, such as numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fits without a definable organic cause. It is thought that symptoms arise in response to stressful situations affecting a patient’s mental health. Formerly known as “hysteria“, the disorder has arguably been known for millennia, though it came to greatest prominence at the end of the 19th century, when the neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot, Sigmund Freud and psychologist Pierre Janet focused their studies on the subject. Before their studies, people with hysteria were often believed to be malingering. The term “conversion” has its origins in Freud’s doctrine that anxiety is “converted” into physical symptoms. Though previously thought to have vanished from the west in the 20th century, some research has suggested it is as common as ever.

“Is it?” I said to the blind man. He had handed me a card with the definition of conversion disorder written on it.

“Is that what I have?” he replied.

“No, is it as common as ever?”

“I don’t know.”

Is that what you have?”


“What happened?”

“I saw the future.”

I pondered this. “What did you see.”

“Everything gets a little worse all the time.”

“Is there an end game?”


“What is it?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Can’t or won’t?”


“Is that what made you blind?”


“Did you see the past?”


“When was it best?”

“In the Garden of Eden.”

“Was there really a Garden of Eden?”

“No, it’s a metaphor.”

“For what?”

“For when we were closest to God.”


About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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