Inventing the Self

The fragility of the self….

October 16th, 2013 by Alessandro Mitrotti · No Comments

The McCarthy-Adams chapter provided a very clear analysis of the experiences of voice-hearing individuals. I thought the breakdown humanized them and rendered them ordinary people struggling with mental illness. While reading this it occurred to me that we are all voice-hearers, in as much as we all have an ongoing verbal narrative in our heads, but I suppose the difference with schizophrenics is that they feel the voices are not their own, and that ideas and/or commands are visited upon them from without against their will, and further those thoughts may be irrational or illogical….

I never felt that Heller was humanized in Lowboy , from the beginning of the story he was lost to his illness, and because his thoughts were so disordered, I found it difficult to sympathize with his character. I was however, struck by the contrast between the very familiar setting, New York City, and Heller’s very unfamiliar, subjective experience. As with Benji in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, I felt distanced from him and frustrated by the logic of his world. Still, in the context of all our readings, I think the story illustrates the fragility and vulnerability of this thing called self, and that an identity can be radically and permanently altered by mental illness

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