Saturday, September 15, 2007

Witty Ticky Ray and A Passage to India

The exploration of tourette's synodrome by Sachs in the chapter entitled "Witty Ticky Ray" was a facinating look at how some people use their illness as form of identity. As in "The Lost Mariner" self expression frees these disabled people from their illnesses. Without Haldol, Ray was sharp, erratic, and could fly off into wild improvisations on the jazz drums, but still couldn't lead a normal life because of his violent ticks. Ray describes being on Haldol as "...dull, makes one square and sober, and neither state is really free". The most interesting and moving part of this chapter, was Ray's decision to take himself off of Haldol during the weekends, but "dutifully" take it during the week. Ray split himself into two people and as he describes neither one is balanced, but he must do the best with this imbalance to lead a life more like normal people. Reading all these different accounts of patients definately makes me appreciate all that I have and that I am not lost in another world that is not this one. As in "A Passage to India", Bhagawhandi P., a girl of just 19, gets lost in a fantasy world, because of a malignant brain tumor. In a trance like state, as Sachs describes, Bhagawhandi P. would drift off into fantasies of India. She says just weeks before she died: "I am drying..I am going home. I am going back to where I came from- you might call it my return". This story is almost romantic in its description and extremely saddening, because of course it is truth and not fiction. It's hard to think that a girl just a year younger than myself could die so abruptly and tragically. Sach's writes in a very direct and clear manner and really makes the reader understand and empathize with his patients.

2 comments:

kford said...

I feel the same way Sophie, and I share that sense of appreciation for the "balance" of my own psyche after reading Ray's own words on the subject. He points out that people not afflicted with Tourettes (he refers to them almost clinically as "normals") are "free" and "have a natural balance", which is something that even with medication he will never be able to attain.
It struck me that to live perpetually between one or the other sensation of mental imbalance would be an incredibly difficult position. Ray's ability to recognize, articulate and attempt to cope with his imbalance is somewhat inspiring.

Matt N said...

I have to agree, even when I feel upset or "unbalanced," I'm still at a level of emotional and physical control that some aren't fortunate to ever reach.
When reading, I kept putting myself in Ray's shoes. Could I put aside my entire personality, all of the small quirks taht made me unique, to have a job, a relationship, a normal life? Would that be worth it. I wasn't sure if I could do away with an entire part of my personality, like if I had to part with my creative side. I've come to realize that even "recovery" of these diseases or "coping" are still mental illness, the person must mentally give up what they once were and embrace (or atleast accept) a new life. They have to make the mental decision to part with the illness, and in some cases that's parting with who they are: with their comforts and defense mechanisms or with their thought processes and movements. It really helped me show how linked the mental and physical were in "getting better."