Homework: Finish “Mind vs Brain” in your packet and read up to page 164—Question packet will be checked

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English Notes December 1, 2014

Homework: Finish “Mind vs Brain” in your packet and read up to page 164—Question packet will be checked


Stigma—negative association, Kaysen’s stigma of being a patient at the hospital, mark of disgrace associated with a particular quality or person

Key Events:

  • Job applications ask about mental illness—can’t escape stigma

  • Feels as if the address of the hospital is as recognizes as 1600 Pennsylvania (White House)

  • Employer at a sewing shop didn’t grant her the job—“I know what you are, said his look” (124).

  • Are people fascinated and revolted by mental home patients?

  • What’s the difference between a “normal person” and a person in a hospital? There are social reasons the patients are stigmatized. Others want to assure themselves they are not crazy.

  • Kaysen stops telling people she was in the hospital. By not talking about it, she became “big and strong, and busy.”

Character Development:

  • Transitional point, reentering the real world

  • Dealing with stigma of former life in the hospital


  • Judgment

  • Disgrace

  • Line between sanity and insanity

  • Freedom

Chapter purpose/how title is related:

  • Stigma in reentering real world

  • Demonstrates Kaysen’s transformation from entering the hospital

  • Map of people’s judgment (stigmatography)

Two documents:

  • 1968—permission to get a telephone

  • 1973—(5 years after hospitalization, age 25) a letter vouching that she can drive a car

“New Frontiers in Mental Health”

  • Flashback to a former typing job, typists were women, supervisors were men who could smoke

  • Boss scolds Kaysen about miniskirts and smoking

  • One Friday she doesn’t go into work, stays in bed and smokes, says “I couldn’t take all those rules seriously. I started to laugh, thinking of the typists jammed into the bathroom, smoking” 132). *freedom

  • Social worker at the hospital attempts to persuade Kaysen to become a dental technician. She doesn’t want to and suggests becoming a writer. Being a writer was not taken seriously—social worker even comments that it’s a hobby.

  • The only way she was let out was because of a marriage proposal.

Character development:

  • Independent minded

  • Determined

  • Becomes a writer despite being told that it’s a hobby


  • Strict

  • Sexist

Themes: sexism, independence, freedom from restrictions (hospital/workplace)

Chapter purpose: acceptable to be a wife, not a writer

“Topography of the Future”

Key Events:

  • Christmas in Cambridge

  • Kaysen met her husband—saw a movie, he took her hand in the snow outside the theater

  • Husband-to-be tracked her down before departing to Paris

  • Kaysen was worried that her future husband had a future that she did not, yet enjoys cooking with him in the kitchen and watching movies

  • Kaysen recalls a friend of hers—he was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft, body decomposed—the world is faced with danger, uncertainty, death

  • Kaysen tells Lisa and Georgina that she has a marriage proposal. She comments “I guess my life will just stop when I get married.” It didn’t—she needed to be alone and wanted to go alone to into future.

Character development: wants independents even though she agreed to marriage proposal

Themes: time, freedom, tension between love vs. safety, independence

Chapter purpose: describes how she got out of the hospital, marriage proposal helped her get out of the hospital—yet it didn’t work out

“Mind vs. Brain”

  • What is the mind? Memory = cellular changes in a particular spot, mood = compound of neurotransmitters, not enough serotonin = depression

  • Complex characteristics in the brain = a person’s though process

  • Stress at work = depression or lack of serotonin? (Are we people are complex machines?)

  • Where is the problem? Does medication treat the cause or the symptom? How can you make someone better—talk to them on the couch or give them medication to help the symptoms?

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