Jason Tougaw's Strange Cases: Literary Analysis

2020 Words 9 Pages
Generally, the reason why the analysis of literary works of the eighteenth century were ignored in literary trauma theory is the absence of advancements in medical discourse of that period. In this dissertation, I will refer to medical case histories and their relation to the early English novel by focusing on Jason Tougaw’s Strange Cases: The Medical Case History and the British Novel (2014) in order to undermine the idea that there were not enough advancements in medical discourse of the eighteenth century.

In contemporary clinical discourse, case history or patient history refers to a record of information relating to a person’s psychological or medical condition. Used as an aid to diagnosis and treatment, a case history usually contains
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He also emphasizes the importance of details of pathology being used in the creation of a realistic representation of life. Tougaw reminds us that “realism […] is marked by its scrutiny of distinct, even deviant, individual human behavior” (4). So what Defoe and realist novelists have done is to chronicle “the experience of strange cases” by using causal narrative techniques to make understanding of these cases and pathological behavior possible. The ordinary life of characters/protagonists more or less directly referred to in novel helps novelists foreground the extraordinary aspects of their lives. The reasons for Tougaw calling Defoe’s novels case histories are then because of being good instances of (1) “natural histories of the passions,” (2) philosophical realism, and (3) the humanity of the narrators (30). First of all, these novels “were written to be read as natural histories of the passions – case studies of the perturbation for human nature by desires of various sorts, including youthful lists for selfhood, irrational curiosities about death in the midst of a plague, and ambitions for a place in society to which one has no legitimate claim” (Sill 10). Secondly, narrators were repeatedly trapped within the snares caused by their own passions. Some of these narrators, such as Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, managed to find a cure even though …show more content…
In both, it is necessary to have “a pathological sequence of events,” and it is also important to understand the difference between healthy sequence and pathological sequence in narrative. Both genres chronicle “a sequence of events from illness to health” and this public act of storytelling about the private sphere is the catalyst for characters’ recovery (89). In narrative therapy, there are four elements of (1) self-restraint, (2) dialogue, (3) reflection, and (4) delay (Sill 30-31); these are the elements on which a narrative can be structured since reflection and delay need a fair amount of time, a feature that “requires a narrative in which to recall and order these events” as well as a narrator (31). Sometimes a narrative voice in narrative is reflective, confessional, and exculpatory by turns, but always aware of the need to reform its passions, which is the case in Defoe’s

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