Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Favorite Book about Psychology

This week's review book, Inside Out by Terry Trueman, is about a teenage boy with schizophrenia, so we're choosing our favorite books about psychology / psychological disorders.

This was a hard choice for me because this is one of my favorite subgenres of YA fiction: psychological disorders, depression, self-injury, psych wards... I love it all. So I'll be talking about the first book of this subgenre that I recall reading: Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser.

Tara is a teenage girl who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The title of the book comes from her compulsion to - before opening any door - touch her lips with all ten fingers with equal pressure before touching the knob. She has several other compulsions and obsessive behaviors, including repeating prayers, arranging food on her plate perfectly before eating it, and avoiding stepping on cracks (for fear of genuinely breaking her mother's back).

I read this book over and over (to the point that I was almost concerned that I was developing OCD myself) in my teen years. It talks about the inner turmoil Tara suffered, the external influence of her OCD on her friends, parents, classmates, and it talks about how her treatment works (exposure therapy and - if I recall correctly - a medication to balance certain chemicals that leave certain neural pathways open for too long, causing the obsessive, repetitive behavior in people with OCD).

If you don't know a lot about OCD, this is a good place to start. If you're familiar with the disorder, this book might be a bit too simplistic.

Like Alex, I had a few options that I could pick.  The big one in my mind was Fight Club.  While good, it's not my FAVORITE psychological book.  However, I loved everything about Ellen Hopkins' Identical.

I'm going to tell you this right now: THERE WILL BE HUGE SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK!!  I can't really tell you why it's my favorite psychological book without the spoilers: sorry.

The book gives us twin girls, one of whom Daddy "loves" (read, sexually abuses) and the other who wants to be "loved" by daddy, because he ignores her. 

The abuse alone does all sorts of terrible things to the girls' mentality.  One of them binges and cuts herself: the less "loved" one turns to drugs, alcohol and sex.  And as if their father (who is a judge) wasn't enough, their mother, the woman running for congress, pretty much just ignores both girls and turns a blind eye to their father.  She's also still blames him for an accident he caused, injuring her.

Through the whole book, we're following both twins.  We see how completely different they are and see how they deal (or really, don't deal) with their issues.  At the end, in typical Hopkins fashion, we find out that one of the twins DIED in that car crash... and the other developed a split personality of her sister.

It's fascinating and crazy and heartbreaking and you realize that the twin left alive probably feel like it was all HER fault, despite it not being her fault at all.  And it's interesting to read it a second time and realize that it's, technically, from the viewpoint of one person.  One person who thinks she's two.

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