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Disorders in Hawethornes "The Birthmark" Essay example

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “The Birthmark” you find a couple fairly prevalent disorders. Although psychology was as of yet not existence, Hawthorne describes them quite well. Alymer suffered from an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, while his actions caused Georgiana to develop a body dysmorphic disorder. Both of which attributed to the eventual demise of Georgiana.
     Alymer is an older scientist who marries a beautiful woman much younger then himself. Even though Alymer finds his young bride beautiful, he still says that she is “marked.” Upon Georgiana’s left cheek is a birthmark. The birthmark is small, red, and in the shape of a hand. Alymer believes that this mark takes away from her beauty; even though many other people, men and women alike, thought it to be charming; and those who did not, just “wished it away.”
     However, Alymer could not wish away Georgiana’s birthmark. He even approached her about it being removed-

“Georgiana,” said he, “has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?”
“No, indeed,” said she, smiling; but perceiving the seriousness of his manner, she blushed deeply. “To tell you the truth it has been so often called a charm that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so.” (Hawthorne 306)
     Alymer was afflicted with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. By definition obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is “A personality disorder characterized by a pervasive preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and interpersonal control [ . . . ].” (Medical Net) Characteristics of this disorder include the following:
     1) Preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules.
     2) Perfectionism.
     3) Excessive devotion to work to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships.
     4) Inability to discard worthless objects of no sentimental value.
     5) Reluctance to delegate tasks or work with others unless everything is done their way.
     6) Miserliness in regard to oneself and others.
     7) Rigidity and stubbornness. (Body Image)
     Out of all of the abov...


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...their diseases, then Georgiana would have lived. If he had not been so obsessive, Georgiana would not have developed BDD. And if she had not tried to make Alymer happy, she would not have allowed him to give her the deathly liquid. Sadly though, even in the end, Alymer shows no true remorse. After Georgiana dies, he gives a “hoarse, chuckling laugh.” After all, his wife may be dead, but she looks perfect without any blemish upon her face.
                     Works Cited

1)Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark.” Sixth Edition The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyers Ed. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin 1996 p.306-16
2)Body Image and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. 2002. 7 Dec. 2003
     http://www.athealth.com/Consumer/disorders/BDDInterview.html .
3)Medicine Net Medical Dictionary. 2003. 7 Dec. 2003
     http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=21263 .
4)Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, European Description. 1992. 1 Dec. 2003
     http://www.mentalhealth.com/icd/p22-an05.html .


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