Mr. Murphy Embraces the Madness


Andrew Salmo

Middle school can be difficult: the new environment, the changing classes, the fact that you no longer go to school with girls. But what about the people who aren’t the students? What about the teachers who interact with the middle school students on a day-to-day basis?  How can an adult possibly deal with that kind of madness?  I decided to find out just what it was like—and I found the perfect candidate for the task.

At the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, Mr. Stephen Murphy was informed that he no longer resided in HS Mentor Group 205 and had instead been moved to MS Mentor Group MS 11.  I sat down to talk with him about this change and how it had affected him.  A disclaimer: what I found out was quite alarming.

First, I asked him about the differences between middle schoolers and high schoolers. He explained to me, “Middle school students are like atoms in motion – never stopping, always colliding!” Mr. Murphy had only spent a few weeks with the children by this point, but I could tell he had a lot of opinions about them.

I went on to ask him about what was happening when he was switched. That was when red flags started to go off. He got quiet and began to look weary, and blankly stared off into space while his hands began to tremble.

Mr. Murphy then explained what the precise reasons were for his switching mentor groups. “Mrs. Jessica Young, rumored to be an undercover CIA operative, approached me during Doughnut Friday in Café Moe. She promised a lifetime of doughnuts if I worked as a spy, in order to expose the illegal activities among the middle school mentors of the Meyer, O’Donnell, Gray, and Mauclerc Houses.”

This answer caught me off guard. I originally assumed it to be a joke, but Mr. Murphy wasn’t smiling. I decided to poke a little deeper and ask about the switching process. Here was his reply: “It was a seamless transition at first – I gathered plenty of evidence that the other four houses were in collusion to undermine the greatest house, the yellow house, the house of Lamourous – and keep us from winning the House Cup this year!”

That was when I learned the full extent of the trauma the middle schoolers were inflicting on Mr. Murphy.  He was clearly suffering from some form of schizophrenia. In order to cope with his unfortunate lot in life, Mr. Murphy had created a scenario in his head that justified his being in middle school as noble and necessary. He had convinced himself that he was a spy for the CIA conducting a top-secret mission at Chaminade.

The form of schizophrenia that Stephen Murphy was unknown to me at first, so I decided to continue probing in an effort to potentially help him escape his psychosis. I offered questions that he would be able to answer in accord with his perceived notion of reality but would also enable me to conclude what form of psychosis Murphy was suffering from.  I asked what exactly this had to do with him being a middle school mentor group leader. His response was surprisingly quick and helped me to reach my conclusion: “The mentors of the other four houses suspected that I might be a spy planted by Ms. Young – they immediately responded by flooding Lamourous mentor groups with dozens of hellions from Gray, Mauclerc, O’Donnell, and Meyer houses. Dean Mug’s plan seems to be unstoppable. Lamourous house must unite in the effort to win the Cup!”

At this point, I had my conclusion. Stephen Murphy was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia as a result of the trauma that being a middle school mentor group leader had placed on him.

Paranoid schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which the victim commonly experiences delusions of grandeur and beliefs them to possess skills that they, in actuality, did not. The victim can also experience various auditory hallucinations, but it was unclear if that had happened to Murphy. However, it was clear that Murphy’s condition was very serious.

He was convinced that there was some nefarious force working against him. He believed that Mr. Mug, whom he had replaced as a mentor, was led astray by dark forces: “Mr. Keith Mug was lured away by the Evil Empire, known as Gray House, to become Dean.”

At this point, I realized just how deep Mr. Murphy’s delusions went. I gathered that he was too far gone to save and politely told him I was going to leave and thanked him for the interview.

The toll middle schoolers can place on an adult are quite extreme and should be examined and treated. If you or someone you love has been in contact with a middle schooler, please seek medical help so that you and the ones you love can achieve a speedy recovery.  Don’t be like Stephen Murphy. Get help before it is too late.