Relation
between War and Mental illness in the novel “Outside the Asylum” by Lynne Jones

 

 

A
research paper submitted to St.Alphonsa
College of Arts and Science –

The Department of English

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As
part of the paper presentation for

The
National Conference on

WAR AND LITERATURE

 

Gaana
Reddy G.S

II
BA

Christ
College of Science and Management, Malur

 

Co-author:

V.Moti
Joseph

Assistant
Professor

Christ
College of Science and Management, Malur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relation
between War and Mental illness in the novel “Outside the Asylum” by Lynne Jones

 

Gaana
Reddy G.S

II
BA,

Christ
College of Science and Management,

Malur

 

Co-author:
V.Moti Joseph,

Assistant
Professor,

Christ
College of Science and Management,

Malur.

 

 

 

ABSTRACT

The paper entitled “War and Mental illness in the novel Outside the
Asylum by Lynne Jones” by the renowned British novelist and child psychiatrist
brings out the treatment given to people suffering from mental issues due to
war or genocide. She shares her own experiences of working as a humanitarian psychiatrist. This novel was
written in 2017 and published in the same year. It is a memoir novel; i.e., she
writes an historical account from her personal knowledge. The speaker describes
the reasons behind her choosing this profession and how she and her husband
have different ideologies about working in war zones. The author quotes Keith
Douglas before beginning the book, “To admit any hope of a better world is
criminally foolish, as foolish as it is to stop working for it”, the author
wants to bring a change in the world. Through the course of the novel the Lynne
Jones comes across different people with different mental illness, the most
common illness spoke about in this novel is Schizophrenia. This paper concludes
by throwing light onto the efforts put by the author in making the world a
better place in her 25 years of experience as a humanitarian psychiatrist.

 

 Keywords:
child psychiatrist, humanitarian, Schizophrenia.

 

 

 

 

Relation
between War and Mental illness in the novel “Outside the Asylum” by Lynne Jones

 

Lynne Jones is a child psychiatrist, relief worker and writer. She has
spent much of the last twenty-five years establishing and running mental health
programmes in areas of conflict or natural disaster. Her previous book, Then
They Started Shooting: Children of the Bosnian War and the Adults They Become,
explores children’s understanding of political violence. Her field diaries have
been published in the London Review of Books and O,
The Oprah Magazine, and her audio diaries broadcast on the BBC World
Service.

The speaker and the
protagonist of this novel is the author herself. This novel speaks about the
authors experience in treating several patients most in the war or genocide
affected areas. She comes across several different people in her 25 years of
experience. She gets the idea of working in for the people in war zones or
remote area after watching a documentary The
tribe that hides from man. This documentary was about the Villas-Bôas
brothers, who were geographers and anthropologists, who recognized that remote
tribes in Brazil need protection from the encroachment from the westerners and
hence turned into activists and advocates to protect them. The author is married
to Tomaž who doesn’t share the same ideologies as her.

            The
author shares her experience with different patients. During her training of
becoming a psychiatrist she is been made to shift different blocks, while
working for Dr.N. The patients in the asylum find it harder to leave than to
join. She also observes that it is harder for the doctors, nurses and trainees
to not prescribe medication as all the patients want medication. The most
common mental illness spoken in the novel is Schizophrenia, which is an illness
in which the patient has hallucinations and this is due to the reuptake of
Dopamine in the brain of the person.

When in Somali, she comes
across Usman and Abdullah. These two are brothers who are victims of a roof
falling on them and losing both their parents. They are now taken care by their
aunt, Amel, and live in a aqal. Amel’s husband leaves her because he is not
able to deal with two mentally ill people. Amel bares the expenses of all three
and is now unable to do so anymore. She has chained both the brothers as if let
free Abdullah will get into a fight and Usman will get lost. Asmamaw is her
assistant who is by her side throughout her journey in Somali. She recommends
scans for the brothers and wants then to get treated. After a few days of treatment,
they get rid of the chains. Dr. Jones diagnoses the mental illness as
schizophrenia.  

Schizophrenia is a mental
illness which usually appears in late adolescence or young adulthood. It is
characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and other cognitive difficulties
“Chronic schizophrenia can make you greedy, selfish and destructive” Dr. R says
in the book. During the late 1900s mental illness was not accepted by the
society. The people with mental illness would be seen as outcasts, they would
be sent to asylums, away from family and friends. Lynne Jones notices that the
patients are more comfortable in the asylum and were reluctant to leave after
they were done with their treatment. They even wanted to be prescribed
medicines. Dr. R also says, “This is one place they can come and be accepted
when everything else gets too much for them”, this show how the asylum is open
for everybody. They often had people coming back to the asylum. The author has
been in different vocations. She had been a geographer and then an activist who
protested against the use of nuclear weapons.

From her training in one of Britain’s last asylums, to treating
traumatised soldiers in Gorazde after the Bosnian war, helping families who
lost everything in the earthquake in Haiti, and learning from traditional
healers in Sierra Leone, Lynne has worked with extraordinary people in
extraordinary situations. She is off to change the world.

            In this novel Lynne Jones has
vividly brought to light the way the society looks at people with mental
illness. She also discusses the different types of people she meets in her
experience as a psychiatric. She has shed light
on the world of humanitarian aid, and that shows us the courage and resilience
of the people who have to live, work and love in some of the most frightening
situations in the world. Thus, questioning the way in which we deliver aid and
challenge the way we tackle the psychological traumas in hell holes.

 

Reference:

Jones, Lynne
(2017). Outside the Asylum: A Memoir of War, Disaster and Humanitarian
Psychiatry. Great Britain : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN: 9781474605748

·        
Stress of war may help cause schizophrenia: study by Maggie Fox (2008).
Retrieved on January 31,2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-schizophrenia-
pregnancy/stress-of-war-may-help-cause-schizophrenia-study-idUSN2127851720080821

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