Spoiled Children of Divorce

“The Depressed Person” by David Foster Wallace
September 22, 2008, 5:46 am
Filed under: Books, Possible Personality Traits of Children of D., therapy

Today while rummaging through the Library Book Sale I picked up a copy of The O. Henry Awards Prize Stories from 1999 and turned immediately to a story called “The Depressed Person” which starts out:

The Depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.

Despairing, then of describing the emotional pain or expressing its utterness to those around her, the depressed person instead described circumstance, both past and ongoing, which were somehow related to the pain, to its etiology and cause, hoping at least to be able to express to others eomthing of the pain’s context, its–as it were–shape and texture. The depressed person’s parents, for example, who had divorced when she was a child, had used her as a pawn in the sick games they played…”

I had to buy the book and read the rest. Turns out the story is a very bitter black humor description of going through psychotherapy. Of course, the character has to be described as a Child of D and female in order to make people accept her as an emotional sponge. Er, I was angry. Since Wallace’s descriptions of growing up in Divorce were very outsiderish I didn’t think he was talking from personal experience. Men from Divorce in particular tend to be wise to other people’s feelings. This guy wasn’t. Or, at least, I’m angry that he misused this particular cliche.  But the observation was right on and the story telling was great. And the sentences are really weird and well crafted.

I have to admit Wallace’s voice in the story was really strong. He seemed a lot like a loser ex boyfriend who was getting even with an old girlfriend, so I started googling his situation and found out that tragically Wallace has very recently committed Suicide. The story was about mental illness and the futility of going through therapy and the divorce just made the depression sound more reasonable. I was angry with the editor and the O.Henry Awards and everyone who has to pick on Children of D for their own private pathos. (I will add here that if you go to a Therapist and mention anything about your parent’s divorce you are immediately considered depressed. Children of D. are reacting to a real life event, whether their chemicals are nuts is a completely different thing.)

It’s a really awful coincidence that I find this story right now. Wallace passed away on September 12. May he Rest in Peace. His obituary is here:


1 Comment so far
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good job ! ^^

Comment by Linde Green

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