Showing 1 - 1 of 1 annotations associated with Cregan, Mary
Last Updated: Jun-11-2019
- Carter, III, Albert Howard
Summary:The Scar is a powerful, thoughtful, and moving book, part memoir about the author’s illness across some 30 years, part history of depression and its treatment and part essay to evoke cultural and personal values about sickness, suffering, health, and death. Cregan, a gifted stylist herself, draws on literature that deals with human suffering, mortality, and wisdom. She frankly describes her sorrows and hopes, the death of her baby, her attempts to kill herself, and her survival today with many blessings.
The title refers to a scar on her neck, a result of her effort to cut her throat with a piece of glass so that she would die. This attempt, in a hospital, reflects the depth of her illness and the failure of her caregivers to prevent it. Her book explores the complexity and variety of mental patients and the range of medical responses—some useful, some not—to treat them. Writing as a survivor, she draws on her journal, hospital records, emails, interviews, and more; she is part journalist, detective, archivist, and forensic pathologist—as if doing an autopsy on the suicide she attempted.
What Happened describes the birth and immediate death of her daughter Anna and her descent into depression and initial hospitalization.
What Happened Next discusses mental hospitals and her perceptions of being a patient in one. A dramatic paragraph describes her cutting her throat (p. 51).
How to Save a Life presents electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), from the jarring images of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to her own experience of some 17 treatments; she reports that these helped in recovery.
The Paradise of Bedlams gives a history of mental hospitals. She is hospitalized three months, “a prisoner,” in her term.
Where Do the Dead Go? explores the dilemmas of the living as they mourn the deaths of people they love, including approaches from Judaism and Christianity. Mary has nightmares about her lost baby. She discusses Freud, Rilke, T. S. Eliot and others. She buries Anna’s ashes.
Early Blues discusses modern attempts of science and the pharmaceutical industry to create drugs for mental illnesses, with influences from psychodynamic and biological concepts.
The Promise of Prozac discusses that famous (notorious?) drug; she takes it on and off while working on her PhD, then other drugs as they became available.
No Feeling Is Final sums up many themes. She’s in her late 30s, remarried, and trying to conceive. After IVF, she’s pregnant. Baby Luke is born. She understands that the scar on her neck has an analogue with Odysseus’ scar on his leg: a symbol of survival through hard, even desperate times, for her a “double trauma: the loss of my child, the loss of myself” (p. 243).