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.
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.
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?
form or compose
If the entire network of simultaneous tiny actions that
constitute a thought were identified and mapped, then "mind" might be visible.
the junction between two neurons
"I'm your mind," it claims. "You can't parse me into dendrites and
being or serving as an illustration of a type
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!
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.
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
examine carefully for accuracy
The patient must lay out the often fantastic assertions of the first interpreter and
scrutinize them with the second.
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
an abatement in intensity or degree
Schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type (borderline)—currently in
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.
without change, in every case
A marked and persistent identity disturbance is almost
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.
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.
happening again and again
In addition, these people often have inappropriately intense anger with frequent displays of temper or
recurrent physical fights.
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.
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.
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....
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.
more than is needed, desired, or required
I relish that last phrase. Its awkwardness (the "to have" seems
superfluous) gives it substance and heft.
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.
increasing by successive addition
Wrist-banging—slow, steady, mindless—was a better solution. It was
cumulative injury, so each bang was tolerable.
Part of the point was that nobody knew about my suffering. If people knew and admired—or
abominated—me, something important would be lost.
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.
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?
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."
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.
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…”
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
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, despair, and depression.
an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety
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.
resistant to guidance or discipline
Pull yourself together! I told myself. Stop indulging yourself. There's nothing wrong with you. You're just
an added comment or instruction
I have a few more
annotations to my diagnosis.
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
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.
"I want—" Lisa
faltered. I'd never before seen her at a loss for words.
having a cheerful, lively, and self-confident air
"Oh, well," she said rather
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.
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.