Mental Illness, By Joanne Greenberg Essay

Mental Illness, By Joanne Greenberg Essay

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What symptoms classify a person to be diagnosed as sick? A cough, a sore throat, or maybe a fever. Often times when individuals refer to the word ‘sick’, they neglect to mention a common disorder, one which takes a tremendous amount of personal determination, courage and strength in order to overcome. Mental illness took the author, Joanne Greenberg, down a path complete with obstacles, forcing her to battle against schizophrenia, a chronic brain disorder resulting in delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration as well as a lack of motivation. This complex piece of literature was originally composed to fight against the prejudice accusations associated with mental illness, while providing the semi-autobiographical novelist the opportunity to tell her own story. Greenberg’s novel allows us to explore the alienating experience that is mental illness through the protagonist, Deborah Blau. As Deborah is rejected from society, her personal fears lead to her resentment of the physical world, triggering her to withdraw from reality, into the Kingdom of Yr, her personal safe haven. Although, from the support of human empathy and kindness, Deborah is able to conquer the battle against schizophrenia and progress along the road to recovery.

From the moment Deborah arose into the physical world, she was admired as the prodigy to the family, receiving praises from her grandfather, a wealthy Jewish immigrant. At the age of five, Deborah underwent an operation to remove a brain tumor which had developed in early childhood. Throughout her youth, bonding with other individuals was always a challenge, triggering Deborah to create her own escape, one which she could block out the truth of reality, thus, forming the Kingdom...


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In conclusion, Joanne Greenberg wrote a novel in which the audience is gifted the ability to understand the hardships of mental illness while living through the experiences of Deborah Blau. The feeling of betrayal and rejection which initially activated the Kingdom of Yr, constructed a mountain of fears within the sixteen year-old, that were fortunately able to demolish due to the power of genuine human empathy. The title of the novel rises from a speech given to Deborah from Dr. Fried, underlying that reality is not always full of happiness and excitement, and in order to survive in the real world, you must be able to handle the bad and ugly that will be thrown at you. Thus, this work of literature explains the severity of mental illness and the widely misunderstood conception of the disease, and the positive results that can be released from the dire disease.

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