Date of Award

6-2016

Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

English

Second Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gail Donaldson

Second Advisor

April Selley

Language

English

Keywords

anxiety disorder

Abstract

How do you tell a true story about mental illness? For my thesis, I wanted to experiment with narratives that convey the lived realities of mentally ill individuals, without allowing the reader the comfort of conceptualizing them as “the other.” In order to do this, I had to become familiar with the vast body of clinical information and apply it in creative expressions of mental illness. I researched six different disorders: generalized anxiety disorder, bulimia nervosa, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (in conjunction with suicidality), bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. I explored a broad range of medical knowledge, including the etiology, symptomology, prevalence, and course of each disorder. I also examined fictional representations of each illness in various forms of literature and film. I used this compilation of research to inform the creative half of my thesis, in which I wrote a collection of short stories. Though I remained faithful to the medical facts that I had uncovered in my research, ultimately, my goal was to explore a more humanistic perspective. For example, the title story, “No Measure of Good Health,” explores one woman’s struggle with bulimia by placing her subjective experience within a context that is consistent with the reader’s understanding of reality. By allowing the reader to see the world through a new, disordered lens, my thesis provides a more empathic, compassionate view of mental illness―a view that could help fight stigma and create a more supportive society.

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