Psychological Book Review: Scar Tissue Scar Tissue Book Review

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Psychological Book Review:

Scar Tissue

Scar Tissue is a fictional book about dementia and the effects of aging of an elderly parent can have on an individual's soul, sense of self, and sense of place within a familial context. It tells the story of an artistic woman, married to a scientist, who slips into dementia. At first her husband cares for her, but he dies suddenly, and then she is institutionalized in a place where only one nurse shows her compassion. She has two sons, one a scientist like the father, the other a philosopher. Both seek to understand her condition and care for her.

Despite the fictional conceit, this book deals with a subject that is all too physically real for many elderly Americans and families, and it is unsparing and real in its level of medical details. One can only describe it as harrowing as a real-life, true account of such suffering -- in the heart of the child protagonist as much as the mother slipping into her final darkness, before death. Michael Ignatieff's title refers to the first scan of the woman's brain. It shows "scar tissue," the physical manifestation of a mental disease affecting the mind.

The main narrator of the book is the younger son. The tragedy is largely seen through his eyes, although the perspective of the elder brother and father is also given, as is the mother's in imagined flashback. The younger son, however, emerges at the clearest voice, perhaps because is a creature of the mind and inner voice, a philosophy professor and at first he reacts to the ailment in a very cerebral manner -- I could call this the history of my family as the history of our characteristic illness, he muses at the book's beginning, I could also call it the history of an illness as the history of one family, a very intellectual reaction to a visceral tragedy.
His mother's illness ultimate destroys his own sense of self as well as his mother's sense of her own identity -- and the end of the novel depicts the narrator on a radical spiritual quest to shorn himself of his identity. He loses his marriage in the process, and many of his own social and personal, professional, and vocational trappings that confer his own identity upon him. Denied the self, he is tormented and obsessed -- who are we if not minds. Thus, through the man's eyes, the book raises profound psychological questions about the need for medicine and therapy not simply to treat disease and the discord and grief disease produces, but of the philosophical rend in one's life and self illness can cause.

Scar Tissue uses the twin experiences of the two brothers of the book to explore different ways, through body and psychology; people deal with the personalities of others and of their own personality. The older brother….....

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