While reading, I made hundreds of connections from this reading to other readings, things we discuss in class etc., but when I looked back on all of the pages I folded or highlighted, I can’t seem to recall what I wanted to write about them. My memory has really been failing me, which I suppose is a connection to our class in itself. I managed to salvage half of what I wanted to share with you all, so here goes.
I find it interesting that each sub-story relates to a syndrome the book and our class have been discussing. On page 347, Karin has this devastating revelation that zings throughout her body during the crane debate. What if everybody had Capgras’? I think the characters in the book express the fear we joked about in our last class. Orienting yourself so fully in a disease or syndrome can almost make it contagious; it appears as if everyone has it. On page 353, Powers draws a parallel to Fregoli’s syndrome. Weber’s talking to Sylvie about how Barbara reminds him of someone, and until then, he hadn’t been able to put his finger on whom. Turns out, she reminded him of himself (would a patient suffering from Fregoli’s syndrome ever have this mistaken reminder? Is that another syndrome?) This reminds me of the two books we read by Margot Livesey. She made her undiagnosed characters appear even more ill or affected than the so-called “sick” characters.
Mark suffers from the array of syndromes we read about in Chapter 5 of Hirstein’s book. He lives through a years worth of Capgras’ syndrome, only for it to get worse. It triggers Fregoli’s syndrome, and eventually Cotard’s syndrome.
There are a couple of things I don’t feel resolved about. On page 374, very briefly, only a line, Karin asks is Cappy ever touched Mark. Is this the slightest allusion to sexual abuse? What would that mean for the story, the relationship between the characters, Mark’s personality? Why was this line included? The second thing that has been bugging me is Daniel. He was the dullest character for the first 300 pages, I hated reading about him. He didn’t respond much to Karin’s tooling him around; he didn’t feel like a realistic character. But then all this crazy information drops on you like a bomb. Mark accuses Daniel of homosexuality and bestiality. And I just wonder, are these theories grounded? Is this to show the failure of Marks mind, does it have any real significance? Why would this be included in the story?
After Hirstein’s chapters, I am even more curious about this creation phase. The example is given that two people can sustain the same kind of damage and one will confabulate while the other will not. What does this mean? Is confabulation a good or bad thing? Does it show a healthy brain trying to overcome an illness or does it show an unhealthy brain? Will we find out more about a patient when they confabulate? Would a doctor rather see a patient confabulating (after suffering from such damage) or not? On page 196, it is mentioned that patients who spontaneously voice confabulations are sicker than the ones who only confabulate when questioned. I guess this would prove that the more the confabulation occurs, the worse off the patient is, but isn’t being vocal better than being non-responsive at all? I think I’m not getting something here. Hirstein seems to be repetitive so you can learn things, but doesn’t go far into the detail that he should.
On 199, it is made clear that a patient that confabulates can sometimes unconsciously tell the truth. Even though I understand his points on this matter, why can’t the patient be noted on being truthful? It’s not like the patient is consciously lying and accidentally telling the truth. It’s all unconscious!
One last thing on the last few chapters or Hirstein’s book… Did anyone else detest the structure of “if p then q” mathematics symbolism? It made everything twenty times harder to understand. I came to Sarah Lawrence for a reason, guys.