List 4

This list covers "Stigmatography"–"Girl, Interrupted."
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definitions & notes only words
  1. revulsion
    intense aversion
    I began to feel revulsion too. Insane people: I had a good nose for them and I didn't want to have anything to do with them.
  2. au gratin
    covered with breadcrumbs or cheese and baked
    I didn't like her because she didn't understand that this was me, and I was going to be a writer, I was not going to type term bills or sell au gratin bowls or do any other stupid things.
  3. metaphysical
    without material form or substance
    But is this interpreter necessarily metaphysical and unembodied? Isn't it probably a number—an enormous number—of brain functions working in parallel?
  4. constitute
    form or compose
    If the entire network of simultaneous tiny actions that constitute a thought were identified and mapped, then "mind" might be visible.
  5. synapse
    the junction between two neurons
    "I'm your mind," it claims. "You can't parse me into dendrites and synapses."
  6. exemplary
    being or serving as an illustration of a type
    An exemplary piece of confusion:
    INTERPRETER ONE: There's a tiger in the corner.
    INTERPRETER TWO: No, that's not a tiger—that's a bureau.
    INTERPRETER ONE: It's a tiger, it's a tiger!
  7. visceral
    relating to or affecting the internal organs
    An optical illusion does contain two realities. It's not that the vase is wrong and the faces are right; both are right, and the brain moves between two existing patterns that it recognizes as different. Although you can make yourself dizzy going from vase to faces and back again, you can't undermine your sense of reality in quite such a visceral way as you can with the train.
  8. vertigo
    a reeling sensation; a feeling that you are about to fall
    Sometimes, when you've realized that your train is not really moving, you can spend another half a minute suspended between two realms of consciousness: the one that knows you aren't moving and the one that feels you are. You can flit back and forth between these perceptions and experience a sort of mental vertigo.
  9. scrutinize
    examine carefully for accuracy
    The patient must lay out the often fantastic assertions of the first interpreter and scrutinize them with the second.
  10. innate
    inborn or existing naturally
    Depression, manic-depression, schizophrenia: All that stuff they always had trouble treating they now treat chemically. Take two Lithium and don't call me in the morning because there's nothing to say; it's innate.
  11. remission
    an abatement in intensity or degree
    Schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type (borderline)—currently in remission.
  12. pervasive
    spreading or spread throughout
    An essential feature of this disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of self-image, interpersonal relationships, and mood, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.
  13. invariably
    without change, in every case
    A marked and persistent identity disturbance is almost invariably present.
  14. manifest
    reveal its presence or make an appearance
    This is often pervasive, and is manifested by uncertainty about several life issues, such as self-image, sexual orientation, long-term goals or career choice, types of friends or lovers to have, and which values to adopt.
  15. baseline
    a standard by which things are measured or compared
    Affective instability is common. This may be evidenced by marked mood shifts from baseline mood to depression, irritability, or anxiety, usually lasting a few hours or, only rarely, more than a few days.
  16. recurrent
    happening again and again
    In addition, these people often have inappropriately intense anger with frequent displays of temper or recurrent physical fights.
  17. narcissistic
    having an inflated idea of one's own importance
    Frequently this disorder is accompanied by many features of other Personality Disorders, such as Schizotypal, Histrionic, Narcissistic, and Antisocial Personality Disorders.
  18. transient
    lasting a very short time
    During periods of extreme stress, transient psychotic symptoms may occur, but they are generally of insufficient severity or duration to warrant an additional diagnosis.
  19. clinical
    relating to or based on direct observation of patients
    In Identity Disorder there is a similar clinical picture, but Borderline Personality Disorder preempts the diagnosis of Identity Disorder if the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder are met, the disturbance is sufficiently pervasive and persistent, and it is unlikely that it will be limited to a developmental stage....
  20. profound
    showing intellectual penetration or emotional depth
    It's a fairly accurate picture of me at eighteen, minus a few quirks like reckless driving and eating binges. It's accurate but it isn't profound. Of course, it doesn't aim to be profound. It's not even a case study. It's a set of guidelines, a generalization.
  21. superfluous
    more than is needed, desired, or required
    I relish that last phrase. Its awkwardness (the "to have" seems superfluous) gives it substance and heft.
  22. fickle
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    "[I]nstability of self-image, interpersonal relationships, and mood...uncertainty about...long-term goals or career choice..." Isn't this a good description of adolescence? Moody, fickle, faddish, insecure: in short, impossible.
  23. cumulative
    increasing by successive addition
    Wrist-banging—slow, steady, mindless—was a better solution. It was cumulative injury, so each bang was tolerable.
  24. abominate
    find repugnant
    Part of the point was that nobody knew about my suffering. If people knew and admired—or abominated—me, something important would be lost.
  25. irrefutable
    impossible to deny or disprove
    My situation was that I was in pain and nobody knew it; even I had trouble knowing it. So I told myself, over and over, You are in pain. It was the only way I could get through to myself ("counteract feelings of 'numbness'"). I was demonstrating, externally and irrefutably, an inward condition.
  26. confines
    a bounded scope
    Recovered. Had my personality crossed over that border, whatever and wherever it was, to resume life within the confines of the normal?
  27. preempt
    take the place of or have precedence over
    "In Identity Disorder there is a similar clinical picture, but Borderline Personality... preempts the diagnosis...if the disturbance is sufficiently pervasive and...it is unlikely that it will be limited to a developmental stage."
  28. nihilist
    someone who rejects all theories of morality
    One of my teachers told me I was a nihilist. He meant it as an insult but I took it as a compliment.
  29. pernicious
    exceedingly harmful
    As far as I could see, life demanded skills I didn't have. The result was chronic emptiness and boredom. There were more pernicious results as well: self-loathing, alternating with "inappropriately intense anger with frequent displays of temper…”
  30. pariah
    a person who is rejected from society or home
    Quite often now, people say to me, when I tell them I didn't go to college, "Oh, how marvelous!" They wouldn't have thought it was so marvelous back then. They didn't; my classmates were just the sorts of people who now tell me how marvelous I am. In 1966, I was a pariah.
  31. desolation
    sadness resulting from being forsaken or abandoned
    They were all seventeen and miserable, just like me. They didn't have time to wonder why I was a little more miserable than most. Emptiness and boredom: what an understatement. What I felt was complete desolation. Desolation, despair, and depression.
  32. angst
    an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety
    After all, angst of these dimensions is a luxury item. You need to be well fed, clothed, and housed to have time for this much self-pity.
  33. wayward
    resistant to guidance or discipline
    Pull yourself together! I told myself. Stop indulging yourself. There's nothing wrong with you. You're just wayward.
  34. annotation
    an added comment or instruction
    I have a few more annotations to my diagnosis.
  35. cathartic
    emotionally purging
    I'd think about it and make myself sad over my premature death, and then I'd feel better. The idea of suicide worked on me like a purgative or a cathartic.
  36. cachet
    an indication of approved or superior status
    I could see that Georgina had a certain cachet because of her craziness; somehow, this cachet did not apply to me.
  37. falter
    speak haltingly
    "I want—" Lisa faltered. I'd never before seen her at a loss for words.
  38. jaunty
    having a cheerful, lively, and self-confident air
    "Oh, well," she said rather jauntily.
  39. recessive
    of a gene that produces a feature if present in both parents
    My favorite part was gene-recession charts. I liked working out the sequence of blue eyes in families that had no characteristics except blue eyes and brown eyes. My family had a lot of characteristics—achievements, ambitions, talents, expectations—that all seemed to be recessive in me.
  40. fitful
    occurring in spells and often abruptly
    The girl at her music sits in another sort of light, the fitful, overcast light of life, by which we see ourselves and others only imperfectly, and seldom.
Created on March 15, 2020 (updated March 16, 2020)

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