"Wacko" is your diagnoses

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"'After the performance she just gave what am I supposed to do? Henry can see for himself that she's wacko' he isn't stupid--'my voice is rising and Alicia opens her door and puts her finger to her lips. 
'Your mother is 'wacko,' my father says sternly.
'Yeah, she is.' Alicia affirms, joining the fray."  
The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger Page 186
At first, after reading this section, I was angry. I literally had to put the book down before I threw it. How could the daughter's of this woman be so insensitive to their mother's disorder? Manic- Depressive disorder, now called Bipolar Disorder does not make you a "wacko". Her mother would be considered ill. I could not believe that Clare and her sister Alicia felt like this about their mother. I thought that with all the money this family has, the mother should be getting help for her disorder. She should be going to therapy and possibly be prescribed medication to control the depression and the mania. 
At that point it dawned on me that I was falling into a trap of think in the year 2009. I then realized that I needed to look at the situation in the perspective of the year 1991 which this part of the book takes place. Not much was known about manic- depression and there were very few options for medication and most were either ineffective for the side effects were so horrible. A person would basically be a zombie. The disorder still is not completely understood, but it has come a long way. Take for instance, if you look back to about the year 2003, the most that was understood in the way of treatment for manic- depression was the use of an anti-depressant and lithium (lithium also had that numb, zimbie like effect). Also, this the time that much research was going into finding other cures. About a year or so later, an experimental drug came around that was promising but not guaranteed and could be used in place of lithium. Now days, there are name medication that have been found to work, one being seizure medications such as Depakote. 
Obviously as you can tell, I have looked into Bipolar a lot of the years. The reason is irrelevant but needless to say, it goes to show that sometimes, we just need to step back and think of the logic of what it being said in a book. Many times, it is the that you may be thinking in this time period and you need you think of it in that time period. Once I did this, I could actually accept that Clare and Alicia did not understand enough about the disorder and for that reason, in their eyes, their mother could very well seem 'wacko'.  


5 Comments

Christopher Dufalla said:

I think that this type of insensitivity also plays along with the idea of sensorship in Foster. As society progresses, the view of how things should be sensored and dealt with.

The time period that Niffeneger's novel occurrs in definitely has a different spin on how to deal with depression. Time changes everything...just look at Henry's life.

Carlos Peredo said:

The 90s weren't that long ago, though I do buy the they were long enough to not know about bipolar disorder.

That said, I think that they emphasis that the author was trying to place is a little different. I don't think that Clare and Alicia were angry because of their mother's actions, but instead failed to understand WHY their mother would develop the disorder in the first place.

From their point of view, she had everything worth being happy for. She even had a passion in the form of her gardening. I don't think this is the case of them not understanding the symptoms, but rather not understand the cause.

Nikita McClellan said:

Carlos,
I never meant to say that they were angry with their mother. If it came off that way to you then I apologize. I was simply stating that I was mad at them for callling her crazy, but yes, you are correct in stating that the mother had everything and the daughters probably didn't understand why their mother couldn't be happy. Until i thought about the time hoever, I did not understand them and their view of their mother. That is all.

Alyssa Sanow said:

This passage could easily be applied to Foster's advice about not seeing with your eyes. When reading, you must take on the identity of the characters of that time in order to understand their motives and decisions.

Chelsie Bitner said:

I was thinking about how during the book I wasn’t reading during the time period, I was reading thinking 2009. Yes I noticed that it told us the year but still it didn’t really click as to read with the understanding that they don’t know what you do. I also noticed this and realized how I shouldn’t be reading in the 2009 year when Henry went to get pills before his wedding and told the man (I forget his name at the moment) the ‘formula’ for the pills that were from years later. Anyway, I was surprised at the daughters’ reactions to the mother’s “falling out” I guess I will call it because even though it may have been embarrassing because there was someone new in the house she is still their mother. The reaction was not one that should’ve had that much attention called to.

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