Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Judging Amy - Part II



In Part I, we investigated a single blow-up during a funeral service in the life of the fictional Amy. Her meltdown could have been the result of a bad hair day. It could have been from a mood disorder. Or Amy could be dealing with unresolved personality issues. We are leaning toward the latter, but we need a lot more to go on than one unfortunate incident ...

Okay, let’s play spot the pattern with Amy: Has told mom 15 years running that she is six months from submitting her novel manuscript - her friends call it the next Wuthering Heights - to a publisher; Has had fights with everyone who has tried helping her get her manuscript published; Says she will join an exercise program once she has submitted her novel…

Okay, we’re starting to pick up a pattern. But is it one that seriously impairs her life? She already has a secure and well-paying job. What about other aspects of her life, then, such as personal relationships? Her Wuthering Heights manuscript steams with hot sex, which she broadly hints to anyone who will listen is autobiographical, but her last fling was twenty years ago. She has never sustained a long-term intimate relationship, but then again she manages to attract a lot of friends.

Granted, these friends may have to cut her a bit of slack, such as the time she abused and stiffed a waitress because she couldn’t order from the children’s menu. And they roll their eyes when she says she’s going to have her own show on the Food Network, but she’s just crazy enough to pull it off. After all, she’s a good friend of Rachel Ray’s, and she wouldn’t be saying that if it weren’t true, right?

Yes, Amy may have issues, but her ability to manipulate and intimidate and draw attention to herself, not to mention the supreme self-confidence she exudes, are exactly the right stuff for personal success. If only she weren’t quite so normal she could be on the cover of People magazine.

No, the real test is when she returns home to her empty condo, alone with her thoughts and vulnerabilities.

It’s later in the day, and the funeral party has gathered for eats in the church rec hall. Now Amy is making nice with the family. She tells her mother how good she looks and fusses appropriately over her three nieces. Okay, reaching for that second piece of cake after she just informed people of her diabetes may have raised eyebrows, but even cynical cousin Paula is flattered to hear they must “do lunch” sometime soon.

“I’m flying out to see a client tomorrow,” she lets everyone know, as if to apologize for her early exit. She doesn’t tell them that the “client” is really a Ponzi scheme artist out to separate her from her personal fortune. But the joke is on the Ponzi schemer. Little does he know that the personal fortune he has heard Amy refer to involves the film rights to her next Wuthering Heights, the one that has been in a state of near-completion for 15 years, the one that Steven Spielberg will be shooting any day now.

And I say to myself, what a wonderful world …

For the full version of this article on mcmanweb, please check out: Poisonality

4 comments:

EB said...

Hello, John ~ I bought your book a couple of months ago, and I occasionally stop by this blog. I love what I read and feel a deep connection to what is said...but the infrequency of my visits, and the fact that I still haven't finished your book come from my total fear about facing the fact that something might actually be wrong with me. On the other hand, having something actually wrong with me might be better than the dilemma I grapple with daily: that the ups-and-downs - feelings and emotions and thoughts like you've described for Amy - are just LIFE, and somehow, I've not learned how to survive it, let alone bedazzle people with how I live it to the hilt. Anyway...
Thanks for being in the vanguard ~
Emily

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like Amy is trying to be successful, respected, and admired. Has that become a diagnosis?

Yes, Amy is disturbing, and disturbed. The pharmaceutical companies would love to find a pill for that, or two or three or four or five. I'm sure they will. The on-patent antipsychotics would surely dampen her down.

Problem solved. Bring on the ads.

John McManamy said...

Thanks, Emily. I think you hit the nail on the head. So much focus is devoted to surviving our illness that we forget about surviving life. Stay tuned for future blog pieces ...

John McManamy said...

Hi, Anonymous. Just to clarify - the fictional Amy would definitely fly under the diagnostic radar, and a good thing, too. We like to think Amy is different from us, yet if we're honest with ourselves she is disturbingly similar to us, as well.

But we have a paradox in play - to better understand our personality quirks, which often hold us back in life, it is useful to investigate behaviors that rate a full-blown diagnosis, such as borderline personality disorder. Stay tuned on this ...

Re drug companies - they're too stupid to come up with a med that would help people with full-blown personality disorders, nor have they tried applying their current meds to personality disorders. As a result, psychiatry has focused on bipolar and other illnesses that can be treated with meds at the expense of personality disorders. These individuals tend to lead very miserable lives, stigmatized and forgotten by psychiatry and the rest of the world. There are signs that this is changing, but we have a long way to go.

In the meantime, we all have our personality issues to work on.