Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Moby-Dick, L'Assommoir, and Buddenbrooks: Interpreting Novels Through Psychological Categories (Studies in Comparativ

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Moby-Dick, L'Assommoir, and Buddenbrooks: Interpreting Novels Through Psychological Categories (Studies in Comparativ

By: Karen F Jacobson (author)Hardback

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This study uses the complex symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder to reveal new insights about three of the most prominent novels of the last half of the nineteenth century, Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick", Emile Zola's "L'Assommoir", and Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks". What may have seemed like a persistent idiosyncratic behavior pattern to Realists and Naturalists, has now been identified as a disorder with attributes that have been observed for centuries and are still difficult to treat. Following an in-depth description of the relevant components of OCD, the novels and their characters are analyzed in the context of this prevalent psychiatric disorder. Melville, Zola, and Mann identified increased anxiety in nineteenth-century society and they doubted the autonomy of human behavior. These writers applied their accurate intuitions of a psychological syndrome as a means of exploring the philosophical concepts of fate and free will and their relationship to control. This work argues that the characters in these three novels constitute psychological case studies that can be applied to the understanding of OCD. It contains a literary analysis that provides insights into these literary masterpieces, and demonstrates the close interaction between medical science and literature.

About Author

Karen F. Jacobson studied neuroscience at the Duke Medical Center. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is a member of the faculty.


Preface, i; Acknowledgments, v; Introduction: Chapter 1, 1; Coping with anxiety in the nineteenth century; Chapter 2, 11; Comprehending Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; The History of Obsessive-Disorder, 11 - 22; Factors Significant to OCD; Emotions, 22 - 28; Heredity and Environment, 28 - 34; The Influence of Social Values, 34 - 39; The Importance of Interpretation, 39 - 54; The Prevalence of OCD, 55 - 64; Thought Potency, 64 - 69; Ritual and Superstition in OCD, 70 - 73; Insight, 73 - 77; Control, 77 - 85; Chapter 3, 87; Powerlessness on the Open Seas; Melville's biography, 87 - 98; Melville and philosophy, 98 - 108; Melville and psychology, 108 - 131; OCD in Moby-Dick, 131 - 153; Chapter 4, 155; Anxieties in the Paris Slums; Zola's biography, 156 - 159; Zola and psychology, 159 - 169; Zola and science, 169 - 176; Anxiety and OCD in L'Assommoir, 176 - 201. Chapter 5, 203; Battling Obsession in the German Business World; Mann's biography, 205 - 219; Mann and psychology, 219 - 225; Mann and philosophy/religion, 226 - 238; Anxiety disorders in Buddenbrooks, 238 - 252; Anxiety, death, and control, 252 - 263; A psychological study of the characters with special attention to OCD, 263 - 300; Chapter 6, 301; Trying to Seize Control; Bibliography, 317; Index, 325.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780773459830
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 352
  • ID: 9780773459830
  • ISBN10: 0773459839

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