«Psychological Disorder» - Great Essay Sample

«Psychological Disorder»

The world literature offers a variety of information on the psychological types of individuals. An important advantage of the fiction over the reality lies in subtlety that an author incorporates in his literary works. However, the artist depicts the aspects of certain personality types somewhat exaggeratedly. These types may differ dramatically. Thus, psychoanalysis is a research tool allowing a reader to identify whether the distinctive features of a character are the symptoms of a mental disorder. Emily Brontë in “Wuthering Heights” – her only published novel – provided one of the most vivid examples of a mentally ill person in the history of world literature. Heathcliff, the main character of the novel, suffered from monomania. As such, in 1847 – when the novel appeared – the monomania was one of the few recognized psychological disorders. Although nowadays it no longer exists as a form of mental illness in modern phraseology, Heathcliff suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

One has to consider monomania specifically – the diagnosis, quite popular among psychiatrists of the 19th century, – when analyzing the symptoms of the disease. Two centuries ago, in its content, monomania embodied distinctive features of the melancholic and lypemanic personality with excited and expansive ideas of a maniac on individual’s mind (Walsh, 2014). This state of deviation involved fixation on a certain desire which a monomaniac could not control. Lack of insight or unawareness of this illness determined preoccupations of a person suffering from monomania. A monomaniac had a limited number of ideas, rather compulsive or insane, occupying his mind. Additionally, the physical appearance of the individual diagnosed with such psychosis as a rule reflected their state of mind since emotions and ideas bothering the monomaniac are frequently the same. Such an increased focus on anger, fear, pride, love, or any other emotion manifest themselves through a certain expression on the face of the monomaniac. Clinical description of the patient’s state included dullness, confusion, hallucinations, and delusions. Thus, in “Wuthering Heights”, one can see a gloomy loner experiencing monomania of love. Heathcliff was not willing to expand his social network; he was rather an outcast who bore only one thing in his mind – the image of beautiful Catherine.

To build a complete clinical picture, one needs not only to focus on the disorder itself and its symptoms but also to consider the personality of the mentally ill individual. Furthermore, a noteworthy detail is that Freud’s psychoanalytic theory finds its traces in the situation described in “Wuthering Heights” (Weiten, 2007). By virtue of their nature, people tend to continuously provoke and resolve conflicts. Sigmund Freud believed that sex and aggressiveness were the reasons holding the far-reaching consequences. Accordingly, one can infer where the key to Heathcliff’s devotion to Catherine lies. To manage his monomania and anxiety, Heathcliff applied the defense mechanism of projection. Particularly, he projected his feelings and thoughts onto his object of admiration, thus making her feel guilty. Despite the fact that their love was mutual, the young people could not be married and live happily together owing to inevitable poverty of the couple. Nevertheless, Heathcliff placed the blame for so-called unfaithfulness on Catherine. Eventually, he achieved conspicuous material success, consciously or not demonstrating to the whole world that he was not a man to disregard but to respect. Cherishing a desire for revenge, he kept seeking ones to accuse of his misfortune for the rest of his life.

Unlike defense mechanisms and reasons for defensiveness, which are constantly arising over the course of a lifetime, personality development starts in infancy. Thus, talking about a psychological disorder, one has to take into account the nurture period of a person. As it usually happens to people suffering from any mental illnesses, the days of Heathcliff’s childhood were not bright and careless. Despite not knowing much about his infanthood, a reader is still aware that Mr. Earnshaw who was the owner of Wuthering Heights encountered the boy on his way to Liverpool, adopted him, and gave him his name. It is well-known that no good deed goes unpunished, and Heathcliff soon learned from his own experience what it meant. His foster father, the only person in the world who could take care of the boy, died shortly thereafter. From that time on, Heathcliff had to confront hostility of a new lord of the manor – Hindley Earnshaw. Subsequently, rough treatment which made the boy suppress his feelings and emotions in the childhood resulted in the psychological disorder. As any other child, Heathcliff strived for love, but he could not find it. The only person who had a liking for him was Catherine. Close affinity between them was his only joy and simultaneously his curse. He became excessively attached to her, which had a disastrous impact on mental health of the young man and consequently caused his monomania. Heathcliff grew obsessed with revenge on his offenders and with Catherine herself; though after experiencing abuse as a child, he was unable to express warm emotions.

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Obviously, Heathcliff disconnected from the society. This process is, again, linked to Freud’s psychodynamic theory and psychological perspective. The theory implies that environments in the family and close interpersonal relations are the reasons for conflicts. Moreover, the person struggles to develop defense mechanisms against anxiety (Hutchison, 2016). The core element of this theory is the emphasis it places on the role of power influencing the development of the individual’s personality throughout childhood. From this perspective, the reason for the behavior of vulnerable and oppressed Heathcliff at a mature age was the feeling of not belonging anywhere as opposed to his attachment to Catherine who made him feel needed.

Throughout their life, people display certain predominating motives. Chapter 10 of the research by W. Weiten (2007) is dedicated to the role of motivations and emotions. In this chapter, the author supposes that sharing the same biological motives, people still have different social motives which they acquire through nurturing and socialization. Thus, affiliation, autonomy, and dominance motives predetermined actions of Heathcliff. These three components correspondingly reflected a need of the man for social bonds, including the cordial liking of Catherine, a need for independence, and a need to influence or control others, such as seeking his revenge and respect. Consequently, a failure to meet these needs made them grew acute and caused mental changes.

To eliminate any psychological disorder, one needs to specify the means of treatment. In case of Heathcliff, the most effective treatment would be psychoanalysis. The therapy would relieve him of the burden of unconscious conflicts, motives, and defenses. Probing into the unconscious of the client, a psychotherapist discovers underlying causes of the monomania or, in other words, the obsessive-compulsive disorder (Weiten, 2007).

Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is efficient when it comes to the psychological disorders stemming from childhood. Not only literature but also cinematograph gives people thousands of examples of this disease. For instance, “A dangerous method” is a historical film telling the story about a remarkable recovery of Sabina Spielrein from a disorder with the help of intensive psychoanalysis. Evidently, this story is not as romantic as the story by Emily Brontë in her novel. Nevertheless, the cure is rather universal and seems to be equally effective both for a man suffering from monomania and a hysterical woman.

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In fact, monomania is a disorder that also requires exterior help. Unwillingness to spotlight the issue or impossibility to find a competent specialist will make recovery of a struggling person unreal. Therefore, the individual needs a good friend, relative, or any other person concerned and a qualified therapist as well. Only such measures can facilitate a full recovery. Nevertheless, Heathcliff felt a severe lack of care and attention. Even when the symptoms of his disorder became apparent, nobody showed any sympathy or consideration, thereby exacerbating the situation. Unfortunately, Heathcliff’s inner circle was a group of people who could not care less about him; hence, eventually, that indifference ruined him and his life. The saddest thing about it is that this group is a generalized image of the contemporary society which treats compassion and kindness as weakness and, therefore, avoids displaying them.

To summarize, a psychological disorder, monomania particularly, is a real-life problem. The easiest way to receive a clinical picture is to consider mental state of the novel character, Heathcliff, in “Wuthering Heights” of a prominent writer Emily Brontë. Such psychological analysis helps to determine the main causes and symptoms of the disorder. Thus, in this context, drawing a parallel between fiction and today’s medical advances may help a patient to recover.



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