Roger Coaches Delia on
Faking a Nervous Breakdown
(August 1977)

(Roger is making his bed when the doorbell rings. Before he has the chance to open it, Delia just walks right in.)

ROGER: Well, what an enchanting surprise, Dee. Come in.

(He closes the door.)

DELIA: Can I trust you?

ROGER: (grinning) Of course.

DELIA: No, I mean, can I really, really trust you?

ROGER: Absolutely, Delia. In fact, you're probably the only person in the world (laughing) who either can or would.

DELIA: Please don't be funny, now. I really need you. Something awful happened, something really terrible. I saw Paddy kissing Faith.

ROGER: Delia, just take it easy. Hold on, will you? I'm sure it's not what you think and it probably didn't mean much at all.

DELIA: Much, much, what is much? I saw the two of them together and it was right after we had a big fight. He said some terrible things to me. He said that I wasn't very grown up and that I wasn't doing my part. See, I try and I try but he doesn't want...he doesn't let me. And then he said he had to go over to the hospital to get some sleep, because he can't get any sleep when I'm around.

ROGER: (laughing) I can certainly understand that.

DELIA: Roger, if you're not gonna be serious, I'm gonna walk straight out that door!


DELIA: And...I don't know...I need you to be my friend. I just need some help.

ROGER: Delia, you know that I'm always your friend. Much more if you ever change your mind. (She sighs.) Alright, alright, just start over again and tell it to me slowly.

DELIA: Okay, we had a big fight, he said he needed some sleep so he was gonna go over to the hospital, so I thought I would go over there and ask him to forgive me. And I went over there and I saw him kissing Faith. I thought I was gonna die! I can't stand it, I just can't stand it!

ROGER: Dee, what kind of kiss?

DELIA: What do you mean, what kind of kiss?

ROGER: Honey, now, there are all kinds of kisses: There's the passionate kiss that excites and inflames, there's the comforting kiss, the hello kiss, the goodbye kiss, there's the tender, friendly kiss. (kisses her cheek) See, perfectly innocent.

DELIA: (shaking her head) That didn't help me at all.

ROGER: That's funny, it helped me. (laughs) I'm kidding. I'm sure they're not having an affair. I talked to Faith a while ago and I'm sure she's not after Pat.

DELIA: Maybe he's after her.

ROGER: You mean that you don't trust him?

DELIA: (shakes her head) Uh-uh, not after what I saw. I just feel like I'm losing him and I don't know what the hell to do.

ROGER: Delia, if you really feel that way, I'm sure that you can find a way to turn things around. I mean, you always have been able to.

DELIA: I might be able to. I mean, maybe it's not too late. I don't think anything else happened last night.

ROGER: How do you know?

DELIA: Well, it was very easy: I saw Faith leave his room.

ROGER: Well, then, don't you think you're making a mountain out of all this?

DELIA: No I don't. Roger, I need some help, please!

ROGER: Okay, what do you want?

DELIA: I want Paddy.

ROGER: Alright, believing as I do that self-interest makes the world go round, we have to figure out what it is that Pat wants. Maybe he wants some independence, a newfound self-sufficiency.

DELIA: (shakes her head) No, no, I don't think that's it. See, Paddy always comes back to me when I need him. See, it was the same way with Faith. I mean, he's always there when she needs him. You know, when they were going together, he broke it off with her, because he didn't really care, and then it just changed around after... (getting what she thinks is a brainstorm) ...after her nervous breakdown. (grins)

ROGER: That's not exactly the reason.

DELIA: Oh no, it is. It is. Roger, Roger, that's it! That's it! I should have a nervous breakdown.

ROGER: Wait a minute, I don't follow you.

DELIA: (grinning) Roger, I'm gonna have a nervous breakdown.

ROGER: A nervous breakdown? Isn't that a little extreme?

DELIA: Oh, no, I wouldn't have a real one. I'd have a pretend one. Could I do that, Roger? Do you think that I could do it?

ROGER: (laughs) Well, if there's anyone in the world that could, you'd be the one. But, Delia, that's very risky, and I'm not quite sure what you could gain by it.

DELIA: It's very obvious - I'd be getting Paddy back. He's gonna be so worried and so guilty he's not gonna think about Faith at all.

ROGER: Amazing!

DELIA: Roger, Roger, he ought to feel guilty. If he keeps this up I'm gonna have a real breakdown anyway! I know I shouldn't do this but I have to do it and I really need you to help me.

ROGER: Well, I must admit, the idea is intriguing. Okay, how can I help?

DELIA: Okay, well you could tell me certain things. Like if I pretend a breakdown, do you think anyone would be able to tell?

ROGER: Well, possibly not, but you'd have to be consistent in the symptoms that you displayed.

DELIA: Well, you tell me the right symptoms.

ROGER: Delia, it depends on what you mean by a nervous breakdown! After all, it's only a layman's phrase.

DELIA: Yeah, well, I'm very aware that I'm not a doctor.

ROGER: (sighs) It's a catch-all phrase that covers all sorts of mental disturbances. There's psychotic episode, acute neurotic reaction...

DELIA: Yeah, well which one's worse? I want the worst one. I really want to scare Pat.

ROGER: Well, a psychosis is the most severe, and then you have lots of varieties. I mean, there's (counts on his fingers) depressive, manic depressive, schizophrenic, and then there's subtypes: chronic, catatonic, paranoia...

DELIA: Roger, stop, I think I've heard enough. It's making my head ache. This isn't gonna do me any good! I don't know what they mean! Okay, I have to figure like what Faith had, something like that!

ROGER: Okay, Faith had an acute paranoid schizophrenic episode.

DELIA: Yeah, well, can I have one of those?

ROGER: Honey, don't you realize that you have to be careful? I mean, you could end up hospitalized.

DELIA: Yeah, but then if I were in the hospital, Paddy would have to come see me a lot.

ROGER: If that happened, then they might put you on heavy drugs, that could do you a lot of harm if you don't really need them.

DELIA: I don't have to take any drugs, I don't want to take any drugs, I almost killed myself.

ROGER: When, the last time you tried to kill yourself?

DELIA: Roger, Roger, this really isn't funny. See, all I need is a chance for Paddy to care about me again. He can finish his residency, and I can make sure that Faith doesn't steal him away from me, and then we can go away somewhere and I can make sure she doesn't get her hands on him.

ROGER: Away from your beloved Ryans?

DELIA: Well, not forever - just long enough for us to love each other and not have anyone bother us anymore.

ROGER: Delia, I'd miss you!

DELIA: (backtracking) Yeah, well, I'll be back. Look, I think we should get down to really figuring this out. Now, what did you say? Depression, I think I could do that. What does it mean, crying? I'm sure I could do that.

ROGER: Yes, crying, unhappy, pessimistic, unable to eat or sleep. In fact, you'd lose interest in everything - even sex.

DELIA: Yeah, well, what else is there? Uh, Roger, this is really ridiculous. Okay, well, tell me the symptoms.

ROGER: (laughs) The possibilities are endless, given your gifts, but, look, the best bet would be for you to study up on some case histories.

DELIA: (grins) Paddy's got medical books at home, and I'm sure they're filled with lots of psychiatric stuff, right?

ROGER: Yeah, probably...but, hey, wait a minute, I've got a whole book here on case histories.

(He gets up and pulls a book out of the bookcase. He hands it to her.)

ROGER: With my compliments.

DELIA: (taking the book) Oh, this is great! I can't wait to get started! Thank you! (going toward the door) You know, Faith doesn't stand a chance.

(She leaves, grinning and closes the door behind her.)

ROGER: (looking amused) She never did.

(In the next scene, Delia is lying in her heart-shaped bed, reading Roger's medical book and taking notes on a yellow pad. She is obviously quite pleased with herself, and grinning. She picks up the phone and calls Roger, who answers it at his desk in his apartment.)

ROGER: Dr. Coleridge.

DELIA: The smart Dr. Coleridge, helpful, loyal, charming...

ROGER: (grinning)

DELIA: It slipped my mind.

ROGER: Yeah, well, I was afraid you'd forgotten.

DELIA: Well, I couldn't forget, because you keep on reminding me. Roger, that book that you lent me is just terrific!

ROGER: Ah, you love me for my mind.

DELIA: You know, I've been studying how to have a nervous breakdown. I think this is going to be very easy!

ROGER: Delia, I always told you: "If you put your mind to it, there's nothing in the world you can't do."

DELIA: I found my personality type.

ROGER: Did you?

DELIA: See, at first, I thought I was a passive/agressive type, but I'm more on the passive side, because I tend to be dependent, and there's a lot in those people that just isn't me.

ROGER: Oh, I'm glad to hear that!

DELIA: Okay, so I am pretty sure that I am a...let's see... (pointing with her pencil, trying to pronounce it) histrionic personality - you know, excitable, attention-seeking behavior, emotional instability.

ROGER: Delia, you don't need to read me the characteristics. It's my book.

DELIA: Yeah, well, anyway, see, I'm working on a list of symptoms that I can use on my way to going crackers.

ROGER: I don't seem to remember that terminology...

DELIA: Oh, excuse me, doctor, I can use those things on my way to a nervous collapse.

ROGER: (laughs) Let me say that I am more impressed than ever with your diligence.

DELIA: (grins) That's very nice. Well, anyway, I want to read you those list of symptoms, and you can tell me if they're right.

ROGER: Listen, Delia, I will listen to them, but I am sure that they are all right. You know, I'm almost beginning to feel a little sorry for Pat Ryan.

DELIA: I start with the psychological symptoms first, right?

ROGER: Yes, well, they usually precede the others.

DELIA: That's what the book says. Anyway, I fall into a very great depression, and I make sure everyone knows that I'm depressed.

(She checks that off on her pad, as if she is reviewing her grocery list.)

ROGER: That will help.

DELIA: Then I withdraw into myself, lose interest in sex.

(She checks it off.)

ROGER: Oh, sob!

DELIA: Roger, I'm being very serious!

ROGER: (laughs) Alright, I'm sorry, go on.

DELIA: Okay, I lose interest in sex, and then I could sit staring while all people are talking around me, and when they get used to that, then I could throw a temper tantrum, throw things, uh, very demanding, and crazy requests for attention.

(She checks that item off as well.)

ROGER: (grins) That's very good, Dee.

DELIA: And then, Pat will insist I see a psychiatrist.

ROGER: Alright, now that's the tough one.

DELIA: I become quiet again when I see the psychiatrist, I talking about my problems like it's someone else - someone I don't know very well - and then, casually, I say that it would be better for everyone if I end it all. (grins)

ROGER: If you don't make any mistakes, the psychiatrist will suggest to Pat that he's very concerned about you, and will want you to start therapy immediately.

DELIA: And I agree, but I keep forgetting the appointments because, by then, my physical symptoms start.

ROGER: Such as?

DELIA: (reviewing her list, ) Such as, anesthesia of an extremity, hands preferred; headaches; sleepwalking; nightmares; fragmentary movements; dis...dis...

ROGER: Disconesia(sp?)

DELIA: Yeah. I'll never be able to learn how to say that.

ROGER: (laughs) All you have to do is learn to do it.

DELIA: Alright, when the family is in an uproar, I pull a full histrionic breakdown, right in front of everyone.

ROGER: Uh, Dee, you know, if you decide to go through with this, you're gonna have to be very careful. Your husband is a doctor, you're gonna be seeing psychiatrists, now, you won't be able to get away with winging any symptoms.

DELIA: I kind of thought that you would help me along the way.

ROGER: That's not impossible.

DELIA: (grinning) You're so good to me.

ROGER: Not as good as I'd like to be.

DELIA: (getting serious) Roger, thank you...

(She hears Pat come into the apartment.)

DELIA: Roger, I gotta go, bye-bye.

(She hangs up and quickly stashes her research under the bed. Then she hangs her head down forlornly and proceeds to scare Pat half to death, make him feel guilty, and give her his full attention.)

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