Great Writers Essay, Research Paper
A Proposal for the Further Study of Great Writers
It could be said that the study of Literature and the study of Psychology are a most incompatible mix. Properly schooled in one or the other of these two disciplines, it is the psychologist who will point out the “left brain” is attributed with the functions of Analyzing, Mathematics, and step-by-step Reasoning and the “right brain” is likewise concerned with Creative Thinking and Visual-Pictorial skills. Accordingly, people will often find a Niche in society that makes use of that half of the sphere that is dominant for them. This is not to say that one cannot combine attributes and operate across disciplines however. For example, there are those people who enjoy occupations such as Psycho-Biologists. It is very important to point out that individuals are combining same-sphere skills. For example, Psychology and Biology employ the Strength of ones left-sided attributes associated with the sciences. Society makes use of these highly skilled people who can compliment one field by introducing another. It is however, Unnatural and sometimes Unsafe to combine left and right skills. For example, what use would we have for an Artful-Biologist” or, a Psycho-Writer?
There is further discussion that the left brain is dominant and therefore assumed that our creative actions are guided by some level of Reason. That is, to be successful in Art or Literature, a practitioner will be guided by Reason to produce that, which will interest the Customer. Furthermore and most important, they will carefully analyze the impact their work will have on the Interested observer.
In certain situations, the left-brain becomes Corrupted. When this occurs, the actions of the individual are not guided by reason. In the event that that person is a writer, they will have free reign to present their work Unfettered by Confines of Reason. Although this can be unsettling to the reader, these works can become great poems and novels of our time. This is because those of use guided by reason try (sometimes for centuries) to figure out the Reason that guided these great writers. It is therefore my intention to show that we should explore for Abnormality rather then Reason in these great writers.
Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism(1711), appeared when he was twenty-three and included such lines as “a little learning is a dangerous thing.” It is at this point in his life that Pope warns us of his increasing Instability in the above passage. Pope, a Catholic, was excluded from the sort of university that his talents deserved Demaria (1996)). Instead, Pope had an uneven education, which was often interrupted. He learned Latin and Greek from a local priest and later he acquired knowledge of French and Italian (http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/apope.htm. Pope’s “little learning” refers to his being unable to attend a Quality university. The Consequence, according to the passage, is that he had become a (literary) danger. Additionally, Pope’s small, stooped stature (caused by tuberculosis) assuredly caused him much Trauma as he developed. According to class lecture, he was so Traumatized that he even resisted portraits of him being painted!
We should now turn our attention to the American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to determine Pope’s afflictions. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is the Excessive preoccupation with one’s physical anomalies that causes, in part, Impairment in social functioning. In Pope’s case, others Validated his own preoccupation. For example, his humpback was a constant Target for his critics in literary battles – Pope was called a ‘hunchbacked toad’ http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/apope.htm. This leads one to ponder the existence of a second disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD can occur in individuals who, according to the DSM IV, “have experienced a threat to the Integrity of self”. The disorder can also cause Impairment with regards to Social Functioning.
Pope’s works were his way of Fighting back. His disorders had produced a Tenacious, Bitter man who resorted to Mocking others as he himself had been mocked. This is very apparent in The Dunciad where he victimizes less famous (and, of course, less impaired writers). It must be told, however, that he did not think of this vehicle by himself but fashioned his weapon by careful observation of how Dryden had belittled poor Richard Flecknoe.
Another great writer’s Abnormal gifts to the literary world are more easily identified by an easily identified disorder. Samuel Johnson “had a nervous disorders that Resembled Tourettes syndrome”( Demaria (1996).
According to the DSM IV, Tourettes Syndrome (identified by motor and vocal tics), presents itself in childhood and, of course, Impairs social Functioning. Although (as in Pope’s case), this certainly would have caused him some peer grief as a child, we will forego mapping out his path to developing his PTSD disorder. An additional Factor to be considered is that (like Pope), Johnson had Tuberculosis. This left him with disfiguring Scrofula and he also was scarred by small pox.
At this point we should begin to notice a pattern of how the diseases of the Restoration period added Immensely to the disorders of the period’s great writers.
Johnson took only a slightly higher road in expressing his Tortured mind. In The life of Mr. Richard Savage, son of the Earl of Rivers, we see Johnson quite satisfied with the release of caffeine-fiend-turned-murderer, Richard Savage. One must ponder why Johnson had such an interest in the Unsavory Mr. Savage. Once again, we must turn to psychological Enlightenment. Mr. Savage was battling Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Specifically, he had a pattern of Grandiosity and Need for admiration. His illness presented itself in claims of being the son of an Earl. It must be considered that Savage and Johnson shared a co-dependency with each other.
Co-dependency was rampant throughout the period and one should explore the Networking that these individuals developed in what we refer to as “literary circles” to begin to construct how vast they could become. Little was known of mental health at the time however, one of Demaria’s authors had previously resolved himself to the problem at hand and looked for an answer. His real work was, however, Overlooked…
John Locke was educated as a physician and had a great interest in what is now called psychology. He was an empiricist who believed that our knowledge of the world is constructed from our experiences in it (Goodwin (1999). In his lifetime he saw the English Civil war, overthrow and executions of kings, changes in his countries’ official religion, and two thirds of England go up in smoke (Goodwin (1999). Still, he kept his Reason.
In 1690, he published An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and An Essay concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government. The latter, which can be found in, our text (in part) and the former mentioned briefly.
More importantly, in 1693 he published Some Thoughts Concerning Education. In it, he Unselfishly parted with wisdom gained from his own strict Puritan upbringing(Goodwin 1999). Presented among his ideas were the following:
The upbringing of a child Should include some well-planned Suffering. Among these, are hard beds rather then soft ones as “being buried each night in feathers, melts and Dissolves the body, is often the Cause of Weakness, and the forerunner of an early grave”. Locke also prescribed washing feet in cold water and wearing leaky shoes to avoid DISEASE (Goodwin 1999).
When one reads the Essays by Locke they see no mockery of unsuspecting peers, no parody of serious subjects. Presented in his writing is a simple overview of good insight and suggestions to avoid political strife, understand our senses and, raise good children. He published these in time for England to began raising their young (including Pope and Johnson) with his methods. There is no indication that either child was raised with these methods so one must wonder if both would have contracted their individual diseases (and subsequent fodder for Literature)if they had followed Locke’s advice.
Pope, Johnson, and Locke all experienced some degree of trauma during their lifetime. Pope and Johnson experienced personal physical trauma and political unrest while Locke experienced the burning of England and the political unrest of the 1600’s that at one point Forced him to leave his country for Holland. In their works, a keen observer can see the difference between Locke’s benevolent advice and Pope and Johnson’s mockery, satire and unsavory relationships. Locke was a psychologist while Pope and Johnson were Writers. Locke had a sound left-brain while the other two showed some degree of mental deterioration.
Without soft beds and tight shoes, Demaria’s anthology may have been a lot shorter.
American Psychiatric Association (Ed.). (1992). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Demaria, R. (Ed.). (1996). British literature 1640-1789 an anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Ltd..
Goodwin, J.G. (Ed.). (1999). A history of modern psychology. New York: Wiley and Sons, inc.