What about me was so
deranged that in less than half an hour a doctor would pack me off to the nuthouse?
inclination contrary to the strongest or prevailing feeling
It was 1967. Even in lives like his, professional lives lived out in the suburbs behind shrubbery, there was a strange
undertow, a tug from the other world—the drifting, drugged-out, no-last-name youth universe—that knocked people off balance.
having spots or patches of color
What are these kids doing? And then one of them walks into his office wearing a skirt the size of a napkin, with a
mottled chin and speaking in monosyllables.
the floating wreckage of a ship
It's a mean world out there, as Lisa would say. He can't in good conscience send her back into it, to become
flotsam on the subsocietal tide that washes up now and then in his office, depositing others like her.
Now, I would say to myself, you are feeling
alienated from people and unlike other people, therefore you are projecting your discomfort onto them. When you look at a face, you see a blob of rubber because you are worried that your face is a blob of rubber.
a tiny or scarcely detectable amount
My hunger, my thirst, my loneliness and boredom and fear were all weapons aimed at my enemy, the world. They didn't matter a
whit to the world, of course, and they tormented me, but I got a gruesome satisfaction from my sufferings.
marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict
Perverse reasoning. But back of that perversity, I knew I wasn't mad and that they wouldn't keep me there, locked up in a loony bin.
management by watching and directing a person or group
Lunatics to the left, staff to the right. The toilets and shower rooms were also to the right, as though the staff claimed
oversight of our most private acts.
rules governing socially acceptable behavior
etiquette was, If you weren't locked in, anybody could join you.
lengthen or extend in duration or space
As a group we maintained a certain level of noisiness and misery. Anyone who
sustained a higher level for more than a few hours was put in seclusion.
the quality of being removed from the presence of others
As a group we maintained a certain level of noisiness and misery. Anyone who sustained a higher level for more than a few hours was put in
a basis for comparison
There were no objective
criteria for deciding to put someone into seclusion. It was relative, like the grading curve in high school.
the accent in a metrical foot of verse
What is it about meter and
cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?
immaculately clean and unused
The grounds were large and beautifully planted. They were
pristine as well, since we were almost never allowed to walk around.
the act of arranging in ranks or levels
gradations were Byzantine. One-to-twos (one nurse, two patients) led to group (three or four patients and one nurse).
the group following and attending to some important person
So when we went to Bailey's in Waverley Square with our
retinue of nurses, the arrangement of atoms in our molecule was more complex than it appeared to the engineers' wives sipping coffee at the counter and graciously pretending not to look at us.
impressive in appearance
It was a ten- or fifteen-minute walk down the hill, past the rosebushes and
stately trees of our beautiful hospital.
marked by casual unconcern or indifference
The farther we got from our ward, the jumpier the nurses became. By the time we hit the street they were silent and closed in on us, and they had assumed the
Nonchalant Look, an expression that said, I am not a nurse escorting six lunatics to the ice cream parlor.
any closely ranked crowd of people
A new boy was dishing out cones. We approached him in a
aggressive or outright boldness
Sometimes they had the
audacity to ask where someone was.
clicking pendulum indicating the tempo of a piece of music
Click, swish, "Checks," swish, click.
It never stopped, even at night; it was our lullaby. It was our
metronome, our pulse. It was our lives measured out in doses slightly larger than those famous coffee spoons.
a prong on a fork, pitchfork, or antler
Cutting old tough beef with a plastic knife, then scooping it onto a plastic fork (the
tines wouldn't stick into the meat, so you had to use the fork like a spoon): Food tastes different eaten with plastic utensils.
mark as different
One day a second Lisa arrived. We called her by her full name, Lisa Cody, to
distinguish her from the real Lisa, who remained simply Lisa, like a queen.
threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
Cynthia was depressive; Polly and Georgina were schizophrenic; I had a character disorder. Sometimes they called it a personality disorder. When I got my diagnosis it didn't sound serious, but after a while it sounded more
ominous than other people's. I imagined my character as a plate or shirt that had been manufactured incorrectly and was therefore useless.
a raised mark on the skin
That afternoon Lisa Cody burned a tiny
welt on her wrist and spent the next twenty minutes running cold water on it.
a young woman making her formal entrance into society
"Greenwich, Connecticut!" She sneered: No sociopath could emerge from there. "Were you a
old and twisted and covered in lines
Lisa pushed her sleeve up to her elbow and shoved her arm under Lisa Cody's nose. Her arm was studded with pale brown lumps,
gnarled and authentic.
argue over petty things
quibble over ten minutes.
having superior power and influence
predominant quality of the slow form is viscosity.
Experience is thick. Perceptions are thickened and dulled. Time is slow, dripping slowly through the clogged filter of thickened perception.
slow and apathetic
The immune system is half-asleep. The organism is
torpid and brackish.
distasteful and unpleasant
The organism is torpid and
Even the reflexes are diminished, as if the lower leg couldn't be bothered to jerk itself out of its
stupor when the knee is tapped.
resistance of a liquid to flowing
Viscosity occurs on a cellular level. And so does velocity.
In contrast to
viscosity's cellular coma, velocity endows every platelet and muscle fiber with a mind of its own, a means of knowing and commenting on its own behavior.
There is too much perception, and beyond the
plethora of perceptions, a
plethora of thoughts about the perceptions and about the fact of having perceptions.
a statement that contradicts itself
There are roots to the tongue. You've seen them, and if you put your finger in your mouth you can feel them, but you can't feel them with the tongue. It's a
a certain degree of unwillingness
Viscosity and velocity are opposites, yet they can look the same. Viscosity causes the stillness of
disinclination; velocity causes the stillness of fascination.
using artistic forms and conventions to create effects
Experiences seem prerecorded,
deficient in alertness or activity
lethargic avalanche of synthetic thought can take days to fall.
derived or originating internally
Endogenous or exogenous, nature or nurture—it's the great mystery of mental illness.
derived or originating externally
exogenous, nature or nurture—it's the great mystery of mental illness.