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Faces in the Water – tekijä: Janet Frame
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Faces in the Water (1961)

– tekijä: Janet Frame (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
4901638,023 (3.99)54
I was now an established citizen with little hope of returning across the frontier; I was in the crazy world, separated now by more than locked doors and barred windows from the people who called themselves sane.' When Janet Frame's doctor suggested that she write about her traumatic experiences in mental institutions in order to free herself from them, the result was Faces in the Water, a powerful and poignant novel. Istina Mavet descends through increasingly desolate wards, with the threat of leucotomy ever present. As she observes her fellow patients, long dismissed by hospital staff, with humour and compassion, she reveals her original and questing mind. This riveting novel became an international classic, translated into nine languages, and has also been used as a medical school text.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:HWC
Teoksen nimi:Faces in the Water
Kirjailijat:Janet Frame (Tekijä)
Info:Little, Brown
Kokoelmat:Current Old Books At College, Oma kirjasto
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Faces in the Water (tekijä: Janet Frame) (1961)

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englanti (15)  italia (1)  Kaikki kielet (16)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 16) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
"Much of living is an attempt to preserve oneself by annexing and occupying others."

For reasons that we are never told about Istina Mavet has been committed to a psychiatric hospital where she spends a number of years oscillating between being well enough to be released to being considered so ill that she is suitable for a lobotomy to change her personality. Yet despite her apparent madness, she is keenly observant of her fellow patients and the dictatorial staff.

If you have read the introduction by Hilary Mantel you will be aware that the author had a very similar experience to Istina. She, too, was stigmatised as being mad and committed to a mental asylum for eight years, if she hadn't won a literary award would herself have undergone brain surgery. But whilst there are undoubtedly similarities between what Frame and Istina had to endure it is dangerous to view this book as being purely autobiographical. In fact, you would be missing the point. Instead I believe that it should be viewed as a snapshot of how mental illness was misunderstood during the 1950s and how its sufferers were treated or perhaps that should say mistreated, told from the viewpoint of first hand experience.

In 'Faces in the Water' all of the patients, including Istina, are treated as naughty children who must learn to behave and very little effort is made into trying to discover the root of their illnesses. When the more 'progressive' doctors do attempt to understand their patients their efforts fall woefully short. On pre-ordained occasions the patients are allowed to engage in normal human activities but it is always with the threat that if they misbehave they will be sent for ECT. Public relations is apparently more important that therapy.

Istina's fear of the prospect of being treated with ECT and the lengths she goes to avoid it leaves the reader with little doubt about what Frame thinks about ECT. However, she doesn't totally condemn it, rather she is prefers the reader to make their own mind up; she is simply presenting the facts.

I must admit that I initially struggled with the disjointed nature of the writing even if I understood quite why Frame employed it, but there is undoubtedly a certain artistry in her use of it. Although Istina is released from the mental hospitals for short periods of time she always finds herself returning and sees little likelihood of a better life on the outside making this a remarkable but an unremittingly bleak and depressing read also.

I would certainly recommend it to others to but with the fervent hope that it was a book of it's time and that things have since changed for the better.

"There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water" ( )
  PilgrimJess | Feb 6, 2021 |
"Listening to her one experienced a deep uneasiness, as of having avoided an urgent responsibility, like someone who walking at night along the banks of a stream catches a glimpse in the water of a white face or a moving limb turns quickly away refusing to help or to search for help. We all see the faces in the water. We smother our memory of them, even our belief in their reality, and become calm people of the world; or we can neither forget nor help them; sometimes by a trick of a circumstance or dream or a hostile neighbourhood of light we see our own face."

Faces in the Water must be one of the most horrifying and heartbreaking books I have ever read. Deemed as a semi-autobiographical work, this is Istina Mavet's account of her time in two, benighted mental facilities. Breakdown, anxiety, and paranoia crawl from the edges of this novel which deliberately and overwhelmingly crowd its pages yet its harrowing content lie not from these but from the manipulation and abuse the mentally ill suffer from the same people—with their families—expected to be sensitive to their needs and provide care for them. In some cases, they're wincingly made as a laughing stock. The crippling social stigma surrounding mental disorders is utterly palpable; the prejudice and discrimination, on Istina and other suffering women, make them start to believe that they are as disgusting and ugly as how they are treated. These horrors stand opposite the beautiful and breathtaking New Zealand landscape.

The breakdown, anxiety, and paranoia eventually worsen. The mind is a prison that hold them without any reprieve.

What do we have then? ECT / shock therapy is administered not as a cure but a punishment to make the patients cower, tame them like rabid animals. Lobotomy, with its mistaken and controversial promise of reconditioning and its serious side effects ignored, is endorsed as the last hope for a patient (** "I will wake and have no control over myself. I have seen others, how they wet the bed, how their faces are vague and loose with a supply of unreal smiles for which there is no real demand. I will be 're-trained'—that is the word used for leucotomy cases. Rehabilitated. Fitted, my mind cut and tailored to the ways of the world." (p189) and a devastating example would be the story of JFK's sister, Rosemary Kennedy).

With all the brutal and limited psychiatric treatments available in this period, although there is much to consider with the available medications at the present with some labeled as "chemical lobotomy", it is a great feat we have eradicated these and continue to seek and improve medical care in the field. But the most agonising of them all is what I think could be misdiagnosis in some of these cases. I watched French actress Sandrine Bonnaire's documentary about her sister with autism (Her Name is Sabine). Her sister was initially misdiagnosed with mental disorders then years later it was discovered she's on the autism spectrum. It took years for Sabine to finally get the care suited for her condition. Sadly, there were irreversible effects from the years she spent, with the incorrect meds, in a mental institution.

"Conversation is the wall we build between ourselves and other people, too often with tired words like used and broken bottles which, catching the sunlight as they lie embedded in the wall, are mistaken for jewels."

Janet Frame's prose lingers and envelops you. You feel like a helpless spectator too. Weaving Istina's story with that of other women, Frame paints a sympathetic environment outside their circumstances through the reader. It is hard not to be swept away by its poignancy and be immensely affected by it. Whilst it's also interspersed with gentle humour, the impact of this book is beyond the haunting ending it has. It's a hard pill to swallow; it is unforgettable. And I believe the social stigma that continues to burden the mentally ill, though not as worse as before, still needs to be addressed and shattered. We should all work together, start with educating ourselves and calling out others on their insensitivity and indifference; mental health should concern us all.

"Living is so much like one of those childhood games where you keep shutting your eyes and on opening them expect to find everything changed—a new city with glass towers, a table laden for a feast, a kindly forest where the trees no longer strike blows or twist themselves into fearful shapes." ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
I'm not going to lie; it took me quite a while to get hooked by this book. Wandering sentences and disjointed thoughts are not necessarily endearing to me. They remind me too much of modern experimental novels where the story is less important than form. Eventually I started getting involved and understanding the voice, and then halfway through the book I just had to find out more about the author. What I discovered was that this book was written as therapy in an effort to deal with the author's own experience in two mental hospitals in New Zealand when electroshock therapy and lobotomies were all the rage, and then I was horrified and fascinated and very very interested. It took two days to read the first third of the book, and three hours to read the last two thirds. It makes me curious - what things are we doing in society today that in fifty years will be looked at as atrocious and antiquated behaviour? ( )
  carliwi | Sep 23, 2019 |
molti che sono primi saranno ultimi e molti che sono ultimi saranno i primi " [ Mt 19,3-30 ]
ma cosa si puo' mai scrivere se non questa citazione dopo aver letto un'opera del genere??
Perchè ognuno di quei volti ricordati dalla Frame ha avuto quel destino di vita? Lo saprà Dio perchè, di fronte a tanto dolore e devastazione niente viene come risposta.....
piccola perla preziosa questo libro ( )
  Mandane75 | Nov 16, 2018 |
molti che sono primi saranno ultimi e molti che sono ultimi saranno i primi " [ Mt 19,3-30 ]
ma cosa si puo' mai scrivere se non questa citazione dopo aver letto un'opera del genere??
Perchè ognuno di quei volti ricordati dalla Frame ha avuto quel destino di vita? Lo saprà Dio perchè, di fronte a tanto dolore e devastazione niente viene come risposta.....
piccola perla preziosa questo libro ( )
  Mandane75 | Nov 16, 2018 |
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Frame, Janetensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Mantel, HilaryJohdantomuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Preis, AnnikaKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Sligter, May vanKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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They have said that we owe allegiance to Safety, that he is our Red Cross who will provide us with ointment and badges for our wounds and remove the foreign ideas the glass beads of fantasy the bent hairpins of unreason embedded in our minds.
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No exorciser harm thee
Nor no witchcraft charm thee.
Ghost unlaid forbeare thee.
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I was now an established citizen with little hope of returning across the frontier; I was in the crazy world, separated now by more than locked doors and barred windows from the people who called themselves sane.' When Janet Frame's doctor suggested that she write about her traumatic experiences in mental institutions in order to free herself from them, the result was Faces in the Water, a powerful and poignant novel. Istina Mavet descends through increasingly desolate wards, with the threat of leucotomy ever present. As she observes her fellow patients, long dismissed by hospital staff, with humour and compassion, she reveals her original and questing mind. This riveting novel became an international classic, translated into nine languages, and has also been used as a medical school text.

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