Author Archives: racheltrisch

Trisch, Analysis

Wow, this book has really been an interesting and enlightening experience! Before reading this book, I do not think I had ever even thought to pick up a Manga before, nor do I even remember seeing them prominently displayed in bookstores or libraries before. So I went into this book unsure of what to expect, and was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

What I found most interesting with this book was the contrasting details not only in the way the Japanese are portrayed in the way they respond to an autistic child compared to what I have come to expect from the way American’s are portrayed, but also in the differences and similarities in overall culture.

The first thing that really jumped out at me was on the very first page. The parents in this Manga have just witnessed the birth of their child and now have a newborn baby. Because I am accustomed to seeing this portrayed as a very personal and emotional familial moment, I was shocked to see the first response the father had to the name of his child. They name their son Hikaru after the morning sunrise, and the father responds by saying, “Maybe he’ll move up the corporate ladder like the rising sun” (Tobe 1). This may have been intended to be a bit of a joke, but I was still shocked nonetheless that the idea was even in Hikaru’s father’s mind at that moment. As the first few pages of the book progressed, there were even more mentions of the father’s profession that further emphasized just how important this topic is in Japanese society.

I knew a little bit about the “workaholic” culture in Japan before reading this Manga, but I felt compelled to do a little more research on it after reading the first few pages of “With the Light”. I found an interesting article that I felt really demonstrates this key cultural difference between American and Japanese cultures. In this article entitled, “’Death by Overwork’, Workaholic Japanese forced to take vacation time”, the author discusses how many Japanese companies are now being forced to make their employees use their paid vacation time due to an increase in mental and physical health problems that have been breaking out due to being overworked. What I found interesting was one passage in the article that states, “Part of the reason for the Japanese reluctance to take that leave is the stigma attached. Many workers feel resentment from colleagues if they are absent from the workplace, as this increases the amount of labor the coworkers have to carry out” (RT News 1).

I felt that this attitude toward disdain for not working and the emphasis on the importance of “product” was demonstrated in the Manga throughout the way everything seemed to somehow relate back to a job or how a job held much more emphasis than emotional or mental needs. I also noticed that despite the fact that this Manga takes place in Japan, the “refrigerator mother” phenomenon is still present, as shown in the scene where Hikaru’s father snaps at his mother. He places all the blame on her, stating that “children grow up as they were raised”, and that his autism was caused by her own lack of discipline and allowing him to be babysat by a TV. Similar to the way I felt watching the refrigerator mother documentary, I felt very bad for Hikaru’s mother at this scene, as you know how hard she tries to be a good parent and how much she loves him. However, I felt that because Hikaru’s mother is portrayed in a sympathetic light in this situation despite the blame she gets from her husband, that it shows that perhaps the Japanese have been working on combating this stereotype as a culture, which was encouraging.

Citations:

“‘Death by overwork’: Workaholic Japanese to be forced to take vacation time .” RT News6 Feb. 2015, https://www.rt.com/news/229943-japan-work-holiday-compulsory/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.

 

Trisch, Martian Time-Slip analysis

As I read Martian Time-Slip, I was immediately struck by how different this book was in comparison to the other books we have been studying throughout this course. The science fiction aspect and the dystopian society that the plot follows made this book feel reminiscent to the many post-apocalyptic young adult novels and movies that are prevalent in pop culture today. However, there were a few aspects of this book that I felt clearly aligned with the other works we have studied.

In Martian Time Slip, we are introduced to a young boy named Manfred Steiner. Manfred is autistic, much to the disappointment of his father. His father blames his son’s condition on his wife, Manfred’s mother, stating, “When Manfred was a baby, she had never talked to him or shown him any affection. Having been trained as a chemist, she had an intellectual, matter-of-fact attitude, inappropriate in a mother. She had bathed and fed the baby as though he were a laboratory animal like a rat…so naturally he became autistic.” (Dick 37).

While this passage is describing a fictional character in a fictional community, the author is clearly describing a very real phenomenon that we have studied in this class: the refrigerator mother. As we saw in the documentary, in the 1950’s a theory coined by Leo Kanner and Bettelheim that blamed the mother as the cause of autism in children spread rampantly. They theorized that mothers who were cold and detached from their children caused emotional and bonding issues that would eventually result in autism. Through the documentary, we witnessed the damaging emotional repercussions that this false theory had upon these families. While the situation with Manfred that is described in this book is fictional, this particular attitude toward autism and its causes is not.

Another aspect of Martian Time Slip that connected to another topic was have studied in this class was the treatment of Manfred. Manfred is removed from Camp B-G and avoids his own potential death, due to the fact that his autism supposedly causes him to have super powers. This situation felt reminiscent to the events surrounding Hans Asperger discussed in our NeuroTribes book. During Holocaust, Asperger highlighted the savant abilities in his autistic patients to the Nazis in order to keep them from being sent to extermination camps. Because many people are still debating the issue of whether or not Asperger was actually a Nazi sympathizer, I did a bit more research on this topic and found an interesting article published by NPR, which states, “In order to retain his position at the university, the soft-spoken Asperger would have been required at the very least to take a loyalty oath to Hitler…Though nearly all of Asperger’s colleagues eventually joined the Nazi party, Asperger never did.” (Silberman)

The information surrounding Asperger seems to lead to the conclusion that he was a man who truly cared for the children, similar to the relationship Bohlen forms with Manfred throughout the story. This piece also connected to the mental condition Asperger himself. It is speculated that Asperger may have been somewhere on the spectrum, and was described as being “A lonely, remote child who had difficulty finding friends.” (Hans Asperger, Wikipedia) While Bohlen was not described as an autistic character, he is schizophrenic.

Sources:

Dick, Philip K. Martian Time-Slip. Mariner Books, 2012.

Silberman, Steve. “Was Dr. Asperger A Nazi? The Question Still Haunts Autism.” National Public Radio20 Jan. 2016, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/20/463603652/was-dr-asperger-a-nazi-the-question-still-haunts-autism. Accessed 6 Nov. 2016.

 

 

Trisch Analysis

Out of all of the works of literature we have studied in this class, I feel that this one is the one that I am the most interested in. I felt particularly connected to this book because of the experience that I have had with mental health facilities in my lifetime.

While I have never been admitted to a mental health facility myself, I have family members and friends who have, and I have seen first hand what occurs inside them and the effects that they can have on people due to their experiences there.

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, we are introduced to the character Miz Ratched, who is the head nurse in this particular facility. It is apparent to the readers that she is not a very warm caregiver, nor is she particularly invested in her patients. Near the beginning of chapter one, there is a scene, which I felt captured the essence of how Miz Ratched felt about her patients and the type of care they received. In this passage, she has an interaction with some of her patients which the narrator describes as, “She stops and nods at some of the patients which come to stand around and stare out of eyes all red and puffy with sleep. She nods once to each. Precise, automatic gesture” (Kesey 6).

This passage demonstrates the cold, mechanical approach that Miz Ratched took to running the facility. Rather than embrace each person as a human being and treat them as such, she treated the patients with a cold and mechanical demeanor. This was also demonstrated on page 25, where the narrator states, “The big nurse tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth, accurate, precision-made machine” (Kesey 25).

This description was actually quite similar to the experience I have had with mental health facilities. On the occasions I have gone in to visit my friends and family who were admitted to them, I was shocked at how bleak and depressing they seemed. Many of the staff seemed to be “checked out”, and focused on staying on schedule and meeting quotas at the loss of forming relationships with the patients.

An article published by the BMC health services analyzes this exact situation. In the study conducted by the BMC, patients who had spent time in a psychiatric hospital were interviewed. They were asked questions about their experiences in the hospital, if their stay had been beneficial, and their relationships with the staff in the hospital. The study found that, “Relationships with an individual which comprised effective communication, cultural sensitivity, and the absence of coercion resulted in that person being attributed with a sense of trust. This resulted in the patient experiencing the hospital as a place of safety in terms of risk from other patients and staff” (Gilburt, Rose & Slade 1).

It is apparent that an icy approach to patients with no relational bonds whatsoever is not beneficial to these patients, as demonstrated in both fiction and non-fiction. When we stop looking at these facilities as machines to be maintained, maybe we will be able to move forward into providing the best care possible in all psychiatric hospitals.

Citations:

Gilburt, H., Rose, D., & Slade, M. (2008, April 25). The importance of relationships in mental health care: A qualitative study of service users’ experiences of psychiatric hospital admission in the UK. In BMC Health Services Research. Retrieved from https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-8-92

Kesey, K. (1962). One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. N.p.: Penguin Books.

Trisch, Analysis Two

In this analysis, I wanted to further analyze the possible clues that pointed to Sherlock Holmes being an autistic character, and compare his behavior in this story to the one we had studied last week.

In A Study in Scarlet, one of the most convincing clues that I felt pointed toward Holmes being an autistic savant was shown in the scene where he meets Watson for the first time. In this scene, he is able to immediately deduce that Watson was a war doctor in Afghanistan, despite having never met Watson before in his life. He was able to do this through quick and acute observation that most of us do not possess. Because we have been studying the different traits that those with autism can demonstrate, I felt that this was probably a sign that Sherlock Holmes fell somewhere on the spectrum.

As I read The Hound of the Baskervilles, I noticed more of the traits that can be symptomatic of those with autism. Before I started reading this story, I wanted to have another source of possible autistic traits prepared so I would know what to watch for, in social situations particularly, so I found an article published on the Indiana University resource center for autism webpage that discussed social communication characteristics of those with autism. One of the traits that was listed in this article was, “Lack a repertoire or have difficulty selecting/applying appropriate social communication strategies in everyday situations and conversations.” (Vicker 1) This was a characteristic that was shown by Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

One scene that stuck out to me in particular was Holmes’ interview with Laura Lyons. In this scene, he questions Lyons’ in a way that is different from the way Watson approached her earlier in the book. As he is interviewing Lyons, he jumps right into questioning her in a manner that many would perceive as being accusatory or too blunt. Doyle makes sure that we are aware of this, as he writes, “Sherlock Holmes opened his interview with a frankness and directness which considerably amazed her.” (Doyle 237)

As I was thinking about this passage, I was reminded of the episode of “Sherlock” that we watched in class last week. The brutal honesty that arises from a lack of social filtering was also demonstrated in this portrayal of Holmes as well, as shown in the scene where he tells his assistant that she looked worse without her lipstick. It is clear to the audience that he is not saying this in a malicious manner, but simply does not see the error in his actions.

I cannot state definitively if Holmes is indeed an autistic character; none of us can, as we are not the creator of the character. However, after analyzing three different examples of Holmes and comparing the traits he expresses to those that are symptomatic of autism, I do believe that Holmes may indeed be an autistic character. I feel that this is especially interesting considering the lack of knowledge surrounding autism when Sherlock Holmes was written.

Source:

https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/Social-Communication-and-Language-Characteristics-Associated-with-High-Functioning-Verbal-Children-and-Adults-with-ASD

Trisch, Analysis One

‘”Ginger Nut,” said I, willing to enlist the smallest suffrage on my behalf, “what do you think of it?”

“I think, sir, he’s a little luny,” replied Ginger Nut with a grin.” -Melville

As I was completing the reading for this week, this particular quote stood out to me because I felt it captured not only the opinions towards neurodiversity expressed by the characters in Bartleby, but also could be used as a representation of the attitudes toward neurodiversity as a whole in this particular time period.

Bartleby was published in 1853, predating the modern era of medicine and psychology. With one of our essential questions for this class being, “How has neurodiversity been represented in works of fiction that predate modern medicine and psychology?” I felt that this piece was a perfect example that could be used to answer this question.

We are introduced to Bartleby when he applies for a position as a scrivener at the narrator’s law office. Bartleby is described as being mild-mannered and respectful, with an almost superhuman work ethic. The work as a scrivener was very monotonous and tedious, yet Bartleby never complained and could work hours without rest.

The other members of the office find his work habits a bit odd, but do not begin to really ask questions about Bartleby until he refuses to cooperate with the other members of the office. He is never rude to them, but simply refuses to do it. This continues to create conflict within the office, eventually escalating to the point where Bartleby refuses to do any work at all, yet will not leave the office. Even after the workers pack up and move to a new location, Bartelby refuses to leave and is arrested, where he eventually starves to death in prison.

I felt that the actions of the characters in this novella provide us insight into how neurodivergent individuals were viewed and treated in times that predated modern medicine. In an article on the website for the historic London Asylum, insanity, or lunacy, was defined as being, “Any behavior that was outside of the accepted social norms of middle class society. Unconventional ideas and actions or lack of contribution and productivity were reasons to be labeled mentally ill.” (London Asylum Archives) This definition shows the ignorance that surrounded mental illness due to the lack of research on mental illness at the time.

Bartleby is the mentally ill character in this piece, and the way he is treated throughout the novella reflect the attitudes of ignorance towards mental illness that were prevalent in the Victorian era. For example, when Bartleby refuses to cooperate with the other members of the office, he is met with great confusion but no real solution to the issue. The narrator confronts Bartleby, but when he simply refuses, the narrator gives up and allows Bartleby to do what he wants. The avoidance of the issue grows to the point where the narrator would rather pack up and leave his office entirely, rather than try to get to the root of Bartleby’s issues.

The ignorance of this time period is also shown when Bartleby is eventually imprisoned. After failed attempts to get Bartleby to leave the office, the public gives up and just has him put in jail, where he later starves to death. Bartelby was clearly a neurodivergent man who needed to be in a specialized mental facility, but because of the ignorance of the public he did not receive the help he needed, which resulted in his death.

I think the answer to the question, “How has neurodiversity been represented in works of fiction that predate modern medicine and psychology?” is clear in this particular piece. Bartleby reflects the ignorance of this era toward neurodivergent individuals, and the consequences of their actions when these issues were not dealt with in a proper way.

Citations:

“Class, Gender, and the Asylum.” Restoring Perspective: Life and Treatment at the London Asylum. University of Western Ontario, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.

https://www.lib.uwo.ca/archives/virtualexhibits/londonasylum/classgender.html.