March 5, 1965
In my night class for disabled adults, one stands out, partly because of his extreme disability, and partly because of his extreme motivation. His name is Charlie Gordon. He is mentally retarded. He is 37 years old. I find that so sad, and I really like him, which makes it sadder, because he is such a nice person. Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur are planning an operation, hopefully tripling the intelligence of a human permanently. They asked me to recommend one person from my night class, and I recommended Charlie. He was too “stupid” for them! Dr. Nemur did not want to use Charlie because they thought he was too far back for the experiment! That angered me greatly and I told him that Charlie had the greatest motivation I had ever seen, and that it would be a shame if they did not use him. They both said they would think about it.
They will use Charlie! I was so excited when I heard. Dr. Strauss soon saw what I was saying, and managed to convince Dr. Nemur. They told Charlie and he was even more excited than me! When I was able to speak to him, I told him, “Charlie, you’re going to have a second chance. If you volunteer for this operation you might become smart. They don’t know if it will be permanent, but there’s a chance that it will be.Don’t be scared Charlie. You’ve done so much with so little. I think you deserve the operation most of all.” I don’t know if that was what made him accept, or if he would have anyway. It probably will be one of those many things that I will never know.After I talked to him, he seemed more determined, so maybe I did make a difference. On my way out, I saw him one last time walking briskly down a different hallway. Who knows what will happen? Maybe I just changed the entire fate of the whole world.
I haven’t seen Charlie for a while since his operation. I have a feeling that he is growing frustrated and disappointed. I can see he has improved greatly, but he can’t. He hasn’t beaten Algernon yet and that is how he measures his intelligence: if he’s smart he’ll win, and if he’s dumb he’ll lose.
So he thinks of himself as dumb, like he was before the operation. That is not true! I see his spelling and vocabulary beginning to skyrocket, and his understanding of grammar is improving immensely.
Yesterday I went for a walk in the park, without my fiancé. It was so peaceful and quiet. I would hear the occasional bird chirping, and sometimes a child talking to his mother. I stayed for about an hour, listening to the sounds of nature, and then I left and went back to the lab. I don’t usually go for walks in the park; it was just something I felt like doing to get away from the doctors and the research, the smell of the lab, and constant thoughts about Charlie. It was helpful. Maybe I will do it again.
A lot has happened in the past few weeks. Charlie has been getting exponentially smarter, and today I ended the engagement with my fiancé after finding about him cheating on me! I am still literally trembling with rage and shock. How could he do this to me? We were going to get married so soon, and then this happened!
I will try not to think about it, and focus on the happy things in life. Charlie is now able to read over twice my speed, learning languages at an amazing rate, and has greatly surpassed me in use of words and writing of the English language. On top of that, his memory is superb! He was easily able to remember in detail all of Robinson Crusoe when I asked a casual question about it.
His mind may be very advanced, but it is still emotionally that of a small child. Recently, he realized that his “friends” at the factory were not really his friends. He became awfully upset, and still is not going into work at the factory. I hope he feels better. Now that I am single, I feel somewhat attracted to him…
Charlie asked me out to dinner last night. I didn’t know what to say, but I eventually said yes (how could I refuse him?). Anyway, it was a nice dinner and we both enjoyed ourselves. I told him he was coming along so fast, that he’d leave me behind soon. The interesting thing is that he doesn’t perceive himself as smart, because he knows that there are so many things he does not know. That, to me, means he is already a genius: the first step is fully comprehending what you don’t know, not what you do. I only hope he stays smart permanently.
Charlie and Algernon were presented to the WPA (World Psychological Association) today. It was a great success. Just thinking about how three months ago Charlie had an IQ of 68 and could barely speak well, let alone read and write, and now he is a complete genius brings tears to my eyes. It is such a great breakthrough!
I can’t believe it. Charlie regressed. He is now in the state he was in before the operation. I don’t want to think about it. But there is nothing else to think about. How could God do this to a person? Make them smart then take it back. That’s like giving a blind man sight, then taking it away again. It’s so cruel. Why did this have to happen? I went to his door but he turned me away. He said he did not like me anymore. Maybe the sudden deterioration has clouded his emotions. Probably. I don’t feel like keeping a diary anymore. This is my last entry. Good bye.
7 years ago