O alienista The psychiatrist, and other stories, Machado de Assis O alienista translated as The Psychiatrist then The Alienist is a satiric novella written by the Brazilian author surnamed Machado de Assis 1839 1908 The story ran in Rio de Janeiro s newspaper A Esta o from 15 October 1881 to 15 March 1882 , then was published in 1882 as part of the author s short story collection Pap is avulsos Single Papers An English translation was published in 1963 2003 1382 232 9649403132 19 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 .
Sanity is a cozy lie Susan Sontag.
Ever notice that even when you think you know where a story s going, you really don t anticipate the road it will take to get there Just how many left turns you ll have to make How many times you ll have to start over Not start the story over This one isn t that complicated Except that it is Not hard to read, mind you, justcomplicated.
In a Brazilian community of indeterminate size toward the end of the 19th century, the progress of science confronts the reality of day to day life with all the potential of a horror story but confined to thepractical arena of the absurd.
I know of at least onereview of this one, forthcoming, and which will be much better than this teaser Meanwhile, 4 stars, only because, eventually, you ll likely know where it s going, because all roads lead to Rome that place they re headed.
I should add that the Melville House hybridbook I read has one of those nifty little, pixilated cubes that lead the adept to their website, when scanned, for additional information, biographical and historical, plus some pictures, and additional fiction by MdA nice feature For those less adept, like myself, the website addy is included.
A pacata cidade de Itagua , se v de repente atormentada pelo rec m formado e aclamado Dr Sim o Bacamarte, que come a a recolher alguns loucos e depois quase que toda a cidade 75% em um hosp cio chamado casa verde,constru do por ele, alegando que estavam sofrendo de dem ncia, tudo isso usando crit rios e teorias pr prias Seu objetivo atrav s de suas observa es, estudos , encontrar a cura para a loucura, n o respeitando regras, n o dando satisfa o a ningu m, s ci ncia, um verdadeiro tirano.
Usando s tiras e sarcasmo o mestre Machado de Assis, conduz maravilhosamente esse conto em um Brasil colonial, tratando assuntos pol micos e na pessoa do Dr Sim o Bacamarte, nos mostrando que a normalidade um padr o muito dif cil de se conseguir.
, , , 400 , , , , 4,5 5 .
Till now, madness has been thought a small island in an ocean of sanity I am beginning to suspect that it is not an island at all but a continent.
Each of us are wired differently and set forth out into the world with our own baggage of experiences and perspectives, our own unique defects and demons, to interact with one another Celebrated Brazilian author Machado de Assis 1882 novella The Alienist investigates the lines where normality and quirkiness tip over into the category of madness, exposing how each of us are mad in our own ways Famous physician Sim o Bacamarte causes quite a stir when he opens up his asylum, the Green House, in his tiny hometown of Itaguai, Brazil The idea of having madmen live together in the same house seemed itself to be a symptom of madness.
However, the local government gives him full control and financially backs him, thus beginning his process of selecting any townspeople he wants to place in his own custody for psychological evaluation Constructed as an expos of the fictional history surrounding a town being rounded up by the head of the local asylum, Machado de Assis explores the roles of a scientific community and it s interaction with politics as well as examines the human consciousness Brilliantly succinct and engaging, The Alienist takes a comical satiric aim at psychology and revolution while managing to remain as poignant and feel as modern as it did when first published over a century ago.
Bacamarte is a clear representative of no nonsense, indifferent science, with his entire life being in the name of scientific advancement This is a man who marries his wife because Dona Evarista enjoyed perfect digestion, excellent eyesight, and normal blood pressure she had had no serious illnesses and her urinalysis was negative, as well as not being attractive enough to distract him from his work The character s of de Assis arethe embodiments of ideas than full fledged characters in the traditional sense, however, this works in the novella s favor This witty satire is told from a distance, speedily recounting the events that transpired in Itaguai with respect to the Green House, allowing de Assis to keep a fast progression and paint in broad strokes without seeming neglectful of minor details This pacing and simplicity creates a linguistic ambience akin to a parable, yet, if The Alienist is to be read as an allegorical novella, then it is one content to stand boldly bare of any metaphoric veils masking its naked truths He bluntly addresses his quandaries of psychological investigation and political upheaval, furbishing them instead with comedic properties to expose their absurdities.
The selection of patients to stay at the Green House is entirely subject to Bacamarte s will Anyone who displays even the slightest aberration from bland normality catches his attention, and he is always able to find scientific evidence as to how this behavior may be related to some sort of mental illness I was reminded of an experiment we had discussed in an Abnormal Psychology course I took a few years back In the 1970 s, psychologist David Rosenhan conducted an experiment that involved people being admitted to a hospital claiming to hear voices The patients stayed an average of 19 days, each being diagnosed with schizophrenia and given antipsychotics This experiment exposed the dehumanization experienced by the patients, as well as the various hospitals inability to distinguish between actual disorders and fakers A major point made by my professor was the dangers of premature diagnosis, or misdiagnosis, as it can often lead to looking for evidence to support the diagnosis instead of properly addressing all the aspects of a patient For example, doctors noticed that one of the test patients was taking notes about his stay in the hospital, and assumed it was some pathological writing behavior, further compounding their belief that he was in fact suffering from schizophrenia These ideas are reflected in Bacamarte s selection of patients A local rich man strikes the physician as odd because the rich man often stands outside admiring his stone mansion, and after reading an article about an illness that causes people to have a catatonic state the early scientific journal he reads phrases it as adopting the posture of a stone , decides this behavior may be indicative of a disorder Poor Mateus noticed only that he was an object of the curiosity or admiration of the most important figure in Itaguai He intensified the nobility of his expression, the stateliness of his pose Alas He was merely helping to condemn himself The next day he was admitted to the Green House.
One by one, then in large groups, Bacamarte finds a reason or, perhaps, a motive, as many of the townsfolk suggest to place them in his asylum An issue accrues for Bacamarte as to where to draw the lines between a normal aberration or clinical disorder First, that he had checked the statistics and had found that four fifths of the population of Itaguai was in the Green House seconds, that this disproportionately large number of patients had led him to reexamine his fundamental theory of mental illness, a theory that classified as sick all people who were mentaly unbalanced third, that as a consequence of this reexamination in the light of the statistics he had concluded not only that his theory was unsound but also that the exactly contrary doctrine was true that is, that normality lay in a lack of equilibrium and that the abnormal, the really sick, were the well balanced.
Not only does this passage reflect the intricate sentence structure that the author is able to seemingly effortlessly construct with such excellent flow and balance, but asks the question of what is really normal Perhaps normality is an unreachable ideal and we must take pride in our differences, our quirks, and our unique realms of perspectives on the world However, there are those who are such outliers that attention truly is warranted In the early days of psychology, discovering which people were the real outliers must have been an interesting process.
What is truly exciting in The Alientist is de Assis accounts of revolution The townspeople grow angry with all their fellow friends being thrown into the Green House and declare it the Bastille of human reason, and organize to overthrow the local government that supports it With each rebellion and reordering of political power, those in control eventually side with the very rhetoric they used to inspire the rebellion After overthrowing the first local government for supporting the Green House, the new totalitarian regime approaches Bacamarte to use his selection to dispose of political opponents, and then is overthrown for this same reason by another opponent who then tries to align himself with the physician Machado de Assis makes a mockery of these political leaders, and Bacamarte views those who struggle for political power as being excellent subjects to study for possibilities of megalomania and arrogance Society as a whole becomes a bottomless well for de Assis satire in light of modern critiques of drug companies getting rich off the disorders of the public, it is amusing that the physicians closest friend and first supporter is the local pharmacist.
Wildly comic and engaging, this quick little novella has a wealth of ideas to ponder Despite being over a century old, and despite the leaps and bounds that have occurred in all the scientific fields, this story feels just as poignant in the modern day If a reader was unaware of the publication date, it would be easy to assume this is an allegory of modern issues set in the past a past that is painted in broad enough strokes to hardly betray the time it is set in The Melville House Hybrid Book publication is also very beneficial to any literary enthusiast, offering links to read up about the author as well as read other bits of writing by him This is a fantastic little satire from a novelist who was the precursor to many of the great Latin American authors, and one that makes a reader question just what makes anything normal.
4 5 He possessed wisdom, patience, tolerance, truthfulness, loyalty, and moral fortitude all the qualities tjat go to make an utter madman.
, , , ,,