What's Normal? Narratives of Mental and Emotional Disorders

By Carol Donley; Sheryl Buckley | Go to book overview

From Faces in the Water

JANET FRAME


II

I WAS COLD. I tried to find a pair of long woolen ward socks to keep my feet warm in order that I should not die under the new treatment, electric shock therapy, and have my body sneaked out the back way to the mortuary. Every morning I woke in dread, waiting for the day nurse to go on her rounds and announce from the list of names in her hand whether or not I was for shock treatment, the new and fashionable means of quieting people and of making them realize that orders are to be obeyed and floors are to be polished without anyone protesting and faces are made to be fixed into smiles and weeping is a crime. Waiting in the early morning, in the black-capped frosted hours, was like waiting for the pronouncement of a death sentence.

I tried to remember the incidents of the day before. Had I wept? Had I refused to obey an order from one of the nurses? Or, becoming upset at the sight of a very ill patient, had I panicked, and tried to escape? Had a nurse threatened, "If you don't take care you'll be for treatment tomorrow?" Day after day I spent the time scanning the faces of the staff as carefully as if they were radar screens which might reveal the approach of the fate that had been prepared for me. I was cunning. "Let me mop the office," I pleaded. "Let me mop the office in the evenings, for by evening the film of germs has settled on your office furniture and report books, and if the danger is not removed you might fall prey to disease which means disquietude and fingerprints and a sewn shroud of cheap cotton."

So I mopped the office, as a precaution, and sneaked across to the sister's desk and glanced quickly at the open report book and the list of names for treatment the next morning. One time I read my name there, Istina Mavet. What had I done? I hadn't cried or spoken out of turn or refused to work the bumper with the polishing rag under it or to help set the tables for tea, or to carry out the overflowing pig-tin to the side door. There was obviously a crime which was unknown to me, which I had not included in my list because I could not track it with the swinging spotlight of my mind to the dark hinterland of

-189-

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What's Normal? Narratives of Mental and Emotional Disorders
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Literature and Medicine ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Editors'' Commentary on Narrative xiii
  • Part One - Clinical & Bioethical Perspectives 1
  • The Meaning of Normal 7
  • From Madness, Heresy, and the Rumor of Angels- The Revolt against the Mental Health System 17
  • From the Flamingo''s Smile- Reflections in Natural History 30
  • From Rewriting the Soul 39
  • From "On Being Sane in Insane Places" 54
  • From Love''s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy 61
  • Three Stories from Cases in Bioethics 68
  • Part Two - Narrative Perspectives 85
  • Section One - Children & Adolescents with Mental Disorders 93
  • Silent Snow, Secret Snow 95
  • The End of the Party 110
  • From Girl, Interrupted 117
  • From Equus 125
  • Section Two - Mental Disability (Retardation) 135
  • Two Stick Drawings 137
  • From Joe Egg 139
  • The Life You Save May Be Your Own 146
  • From of Mice and Men 156
  • Average Waves in Unprotected Waters 165
  • Lily Daw and the Three Ladies 173
  • Section Three - Women''s Experiences with Mental Disorders 183
  • Three Poems 185
  • From like Water for Chocolate 187
  • From Faces in the Water 189
  • The Yellow Wallpaper 201
  • The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window 215
  • The Avalanche 218
  • "No Name Woman," from the Woman Warrior 219
  • Three Poems 229
  • Section Four - Mens Experiences with War Trauma, Including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 233
  • "1919" from Sula 235
  • Night March 241
  • Mental Cases 249
  • From Ceremony 250
  • From Mrs. Dalloway 257
  • Section Five - Men … Mental Disorders 269
  • Panic 271
  • King of the Bingo Game 273
  • "Cash" from as I Lay Dying 281
  • Gogol''s Wife 285
  • The Tell-Taie Heart 295
  • From the Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge 299
  • Section Six - Alzheimer''s & Dementia 301
  • To You My Mother Lost in Time 303
  • From My Journey into Alzheimer''s Disease 305
  • From in a Tangled Wood- An Alzheimer''s Journey 325
  • Two Poems 340
  • A Wonderland Party 343
  • Notes on Contributors 345
  • Permissions Acknowledgments 350
  • Index 354
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