“Disgrace” By John Coetzee: Analysis Free Writing Sample

Introduction

“Disgrace” by John Coetzee is a novel about loss, pain, and the efforts to reconcile with oneself. The main characters are disgraced and deprived of all dignity in different circumstances. Even though the characters David Lurie and Lucy Lurie have in common the suffering of facing traumatic sexual experiences, their conflict-resolution styles are very dissimilar due to their social environments and sexual genres.

Summary

The novel tells the story of David Lurie, a professor working at the University of Cape Town. He has an affair with his student named Melanie and loses his job and the respect of his peers. David decides to go to the farm of his lesbian daughter, Lucy. For a time, he attains inner peace, but it is soon disrupted when a group of three black men attacks him and his daughter, almost killing him and raping her. At that point, their relationship is ruined and after growing ever more distant, David returns to Cape Town only to find his house robbed. After a short while, he is informed that his daughter is pregnant by his friend Bev Shaw, who he used to help at a vet clinic and had an affair with. He returns only to find that Lucy has accepted her fate and is preparing to live with a man who raped her, named Pollux. David continues working at the clinic, abandoning all of his hopes and dreams. The plot of the novel is symbolic, representing the broken relationship between the natives and the colonial abuses. That is why Lucy sees losing everything as paying her debt.

Lucy’s Solution

Lucy is coping with being sexually abused by yielding. She realizes that the rapist is planning to force her into marriage and gain ownership of her farm. However, despite being initially horrified by the experience, Lucy chooses to simply accept her fate. She does not resist or run. She simply gives up. The author links that resignation with the fate of the former white overlords of the South Africa. She simply resigns herself to the fact that the criminals were motivated not by personal hatred but by a desire to avenge their own people. To her, the natives now rule everything, and it is easier to conform. She says: “But whatever I decide I want to decide by myself, without being pushed” (Coetzee 39). However, in the end, she seems to have decided not to decide at all. She simply accepted the circumstance and did not do anything to change the situation. Some critics describe this choice as a way towards a new life without guilt and punishment, a symbol of the forgiveness following the end of the Apartheid (Kossew 161). However, letting such crimes continue is no way towards a healthier society. If people hurt each other like that the Apartheid will continue in the hearts of people instead of the laws of the country.

David’s Solution

The father of Lucy solves his problems in a different way. He just runs from them. He does not make any attempts to resist or amend the troubles he encounters. When his predatory affair with Melanie is exposed, he does not argue or defend himself. He simply admits his guilt and leaves. He meets the rape of his only daughter with the same indifference. He even lectures Lucy on the context of the crime: “It was history speaking through them,” (Coetzee 39) he says. He convinces himself that rape is just a part of the everyday life and nothing can be done to change the reality around him. David might have pressed the charges himself, acting like an enraged father would. Instead, he chooses to distance himself from the entire situation.

Deep inside, he may be tortured, but he represses the anger and continues to run from one disgrace to another. Finding nothing to return to back at Cape Town, he goes back to Lucy. But even then, he continues running. He does give Pollux a smack in the face, but that amounts to nothing more than the powerless frustration of a man completely ruined. In the end, he allows Bev to euthanize the dog he has grown fond of, saying: “Yes, I am giving him up” (Coetzee 54). With that, he reconciles with himself by abandoning the last thoughts of resistance or revenge. That scene seems somewhat reminiscent of the Orwell’s “1984.” Just like Winston, talking with Julia, simply says “I betrayed you” (Orwell 321) admitting his final defeat, David gives up completely in a very similar fashion. The key difference is that Winston was broken by the torture while David broke himself by being unable to accept or resist the world he was living in.

Conclusion

While both characters handle their disgrace differently, it is hard not to find their ways of handling the situation revolting. David just runs away until he is too mentally exhausted to continue while Lucy simply conforms to the spirit of the society she lives in without any thought. Even though they are both broken in their own ways, suffering from their inability to find their place in the world, such mute acceptance of evil is hardly justified. They just seem to be paralyzed by their own views. Maybe they see themselves as being punished for the sins of the previous generations. However, simply allowing people, for whom rape and murder are a way to have some fun and profit, to go unpunished is impossible to justify. The novel shows no ways out and seems to imply that any resistance to violence is useless (Ogden 302). While it works as a larger metaphor for the post-Apartheid South Africa, the actions of the characters seem horrifying and depressing even in that context.

Works Cited

Coetzee, John Maxwell. Disgrace, London, UK: Penguin Books, 1999. Print.

Kossew, Sue. “The Politics of Shame and Redemption in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.” Research in African Literatures 34.2 (2003): 155-166.

Ogden, Benjamin. “Reconcile, Reconciled: A New Reading of Reconciliation in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.” Ariel: a Review of International English Literature 42.3 (2012): 301–314.

Orwell, George. 1984, New York, NY: Signet Classic, 1961. Print.

Social Prejudice Kills LGBTQ Community Representatives

The year 2020 is when diversity is speaking louder than ever: starting from Black Lives Matter spread and leading to the increased attention to the other minority representatives. It might seem like LGBTQ community members also discover greater acceptance and recognition. You can see gay students or same-sex couples in almost every Netflix series, and it should make you understand that they are an equal part of society. It does not work for real life because society is still full of prejudices that severely affect LGBTQ community members’ well-being. Moreover, social prejudices do not let them have fulfilling lives, achieve goals, and be happy. Society must change its attitude and liquidate prejudice among the LGBTQ community members, as the consequences of these attitudes are disastrous.

Inequity and intolerance to the minorities begin from the school years and crystallize in people’s minds as they grow up. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discovered that LGBTQ youth representatives, who died by suicide, were five times more often bullied in schools (LGBTQ youth, 2017). Teenagers learn that their orientation or another diverse characteristic will not be accepted, so they hide it, avoid social contacts, and create a bad self-image. These stress factors lead to depression, drug addiction, poor quality of life, and suicide. School is the stage everyone goes through and bullying within this time signals about the lack of respect for diversity and the absence of equal rights. Educational institutions build the society, and suicide statistics reveal the terrible treatment of LGBTQ community members inside it.

The way how sexual minorities see themselves, and how others react to them has their roots in the moral values of a person. As Barnett et al. (2020) showed in the recent study, “sexual minorities, who emphasize binding moral foundations may have more negative attitudes toward other sexual minorities as well as their own sexuality” (p.7). The study claimed that social prejudices among the LGBTQ community representatives force them to think of their orientation negatively and reduce the moral level of decisions they make. Sexual minorities are getting better social and legal recognition nowadays, yet prejudices still exist, leading to stigma, discrimination, and a harmful social environment. These factors cause mental health disorders, abuses, suicide attempts, and poor quality of life among LGBTQ community members.

Most of the decisions a person makes throughout life are depended on their beliefs and values. The research of Barnett et al. (2020) also investigated moral foundations, attitudes toward the sexual orientation of LGBTQ people based on their ethical decision-making. After interviewing the focus group through online surveys, researchers concluded that social prejudice interrupts people’s self-acceptance, and they start to consider their affiliation to the LGBTQ community as immoral. This attitude vastly impacts the self-esteem, health, and moral values of an individual. The study suggests that society respects not only the LGBTQ community in general but acts respectfully with each representative in particular.

Historically, prejudice related to sexual minorities always took place in social life and many cruel ways. The government, society, and religious institutions punished gay people by torturing them, treating them violently, and even killing them. Thus, people with this kind of diversity tended to hide, and humanity’s memory still recognizes sexual diversity as something severe and wrong. The level of the stigma of the previous generations was higher, and people hid their orientation for the sake of living a healthy life and being a part of society. As the authority of diversity grew more prominent, more people made a coming out and became the victims of discrimination.

In 2020, the ways of punishing people like torturing and killing sound insane, and LGBTQ community members will never be legally judged because of their sexual orientation. However, social prejudice among them leads to poor mental health, disorders, and suicide attempts. It turns out that society still treats sexual minorities violently, hurts them, but in a more sophisticated way. It acts against the whole idea of an equal society, and people who apply their prejudice to others must not be considered decent members.

Society is the union of individuals, and people build it for centuries to reach a higher level of well-being for each. Thus, we must respect all of the people around us, regardless of their diverse qualities, as they impact lives. Moreover, members of minorities must be advocated and protected, and they deserve it for all the mistreatments throughout history. An inspiring example of an LGBTQ rights defender is advocate John Lewis. He passed away on July 17, and, as a tribute, citizens of the United States refocused attention on the problems of the LGBTQ community’s treatment. He defeated the rights of the minorities for the last three decades, and the pride protests that take place in different states nowadays are his legacy. The ability to speak about the rights loudly moves the community forward, and the voices of its representatives need to be heard as soon as possible. Social prejudice among the LGBTQ community members kills people, and it must be unacceptable in modern society. It is everyone’s responsibility to make the world a better place, and treating people equally well can be a significant step to start living a decent life.

References

Barnett, M. D., Maciel, I. V., & Sligar, K. B. (2020). Moral foundations, sexual prejudice, and outness among sexual minorities. Sexuality & Culture, 1-10. Web.

LGBTQ youth. (2017). StopBullying. Web.

Child Psychology: Attachment Theory

The Attachment Theory was first formulated by the British psychiatrist John Bowlby when he was studying the behavior of young children who were separated from their parents. Bowlby often collaborated with an American-Canadian developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth who helped him in developing the theory. Attachment Theory is a concept that describes emotional bonds between people, especially between an infant child and a caregiver, and suggests that this bond has lasting effects on the child’s emotional and behavioral development. The key assumptions of the theory are that attachment is an evolutionary mechanism needed for survival; that it forms through regular and repeated interactions with a caregiver and there is no inherent preference; and that the attachment tendencies are primarily developed in the first few years of a child’s life (Howe, 2012). Some of the characteristics of attachment are the need for comfort and safety, the desire to be in the proximity of the caregiver, and the distress that occurs when separated from the attachment figure (Cherry, 2017).

There are considered to be four types of attachment. Secure type is when a child knows that they will be comforted in the case of any distress and can express their need for comfort directly and positively. Securely attached children generally have a high self-esteem, trust others, and can have healthy relationships later in life. When caregivers reject or dismiss the displays of attachment, children might develop the avoidant type of attachment. Avoidant children do not communicate well and mask their distress, in order to keep the caregiver in proximity. The fear of rejection might be taken into adulthood, and avoidant individuals tend to be untrusting and emotionally distant. Ambivalent type occurs when the response to the attachment displays is inconsistent. Ambivalent children tend to exaggerate their distress and carry the emotional imbalance into adulthood, which increases the risk of mental health issues. When the cause of a child’s distress is the caregiver themselves, because they are abusive or neglectful, a child develops the disorganized type of attachment. That type will most likely lead to some behavioral and mental health problems (Howe, 2012).

The Adult Attachment Scale (AAS) was developed based on the works of Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver, as well as the works of Marc Levy and Keith Davis. The scale is used to measure adult attachment. It can be used as an instrument for psychosomatic researchers. Some studies were conducted to provide evidence for the scale. The AAS has high reliability and validity as a measure of attachment (Ravitz, Maunder, Hunter, Sthankiya, & Lancee, 2010).

The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was developed by doctors Robert L. Spitzer, Janet B. W. Williams, and Kurt Kroenke. It is used as a diagnostic, monitoring, and measuring tool for depression. The PHQ-9 is appropriate for clinical use and is evidence based. Studies prove reliability and validity of the PHQ-9 (Kocalevent, Hinz, & Brähler, 2013). It should be used often enough to track improvement or regression of the patient’s condition.

The Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is used to assess attachment in adults through childhood memories that might indicate a person’s parenting style. It is appropriate for family therapists and developmental psychologists. The interview includes questions like “Which parent did you feel closest to and why?”, “When you were upset as a child what would you do?”, “What is the first time you remember being separated from your parents?”, “Did you ever feel rejected as a young child?” (James, 2010). A special training course is required to learn how to properly administer and score the AAI. The effectiveness of the AAI is evidence based as it is attested in research. Studies provide supporting evidence for reliability and validity of the AAI.

Interpersonal Therapy was developed in New England in 1969 by Gerald L. Klerman, Myrna M. Weissman, and their colleagues. It should be utilized by psychotherapists treating depression or other disorders, such as a social anxiety disorder, a borderline personality disorder or PTSD. The purpose of this therapy is to relieve the symptoms of depression and to improve social functioning (Markowitz & Weissman, 2012). Interpersonal Therapy is based on the idea that psychological issues might be a result of problems in interpersonal relationships, and that those problems can, in turn, aggravate the issues, thus creating a cycle. Some tools used in this therapy are helping a patient acknowledge and accept painful feelings, pointing out logical implications or contradictions in what a patient is saying, analyzing patient’s communication with other people, and facilitating the change in patient’s behavior. Normally, a therapist would listen to a client to help them identify specific issues and work through them. There is a number of techniques that can be used in interpersonal therapy, such as identification of emotions, expression of emotions, and analyzing issues from the past that might be affecting a patient in the present. According to Markowitz and Weissman (2012), “The demonstrated efficacy of IPT in treating major depression and bulimia has led to its incorporation into professional and national treatment guidelines”. Therefore, the therapy is evidence based.

The Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS) was developed for the treatment of trauma by Shirley Jean Schmidt. It is based on the Adaptive Information Processing model created by Francine Shapiro. This approach might be appropriate for those who were not satisfied by the standard trauma treatment. The DNMS is specifically used to treat attachment-related traumas, usually referred to as attachment wounds. Attachment wounds can create gaps in a person’s development, which might lead to psychological issues later in life. The tools used in the DNMS therapy are represented by so-called Resource parts of self: Core Self, Nurturing Adult Self, and Protective Adult Self that are used to address unmet needs. Generally, a therapist would help a client break away from the maladaptive state inflicted by the traumatic memories. Some techniques used in the DNMS are drawing from inner Resources, identifying and diffusing maladaptive introjects, and separating from the past issues. However, there are not enough studies yet to evaluate the efficiency of the DNMS therapy.

The General Systems Theory (GST) was first proposed by the Austrian biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy in 1928. It is a concept used to describe and understand complex systems through their structure, rather than their purpose, based on the idea that systems share organizational principles which can be understood. The assumptions of the theory are that there can be similar models and concepts in different fields, that all of the sciences can be unified and integrated, and that parts of the system and their interaction give meaning to the system as a whole. Some of the characteristics of the theory are that it uses a universal approach to different sciences, it provides a consistent framework for evaluation, and allows for the same theoretical structure to be used in different fields. Using the GST in the treatment of depression implies putting emphasis on the social circle and environment of a depressed individual, especially their spouses and children (Gotlib, 2012). In this type of therapy, an active, problem-solving approach might be used, and the family of a patient might be included in the therapeutic process.

References

Cherry, K. (2017). Attachment theory – styles and characteristics. Web.

Gotlib, I. H., (2012). An interpersonal systems approach to the conceptualization and treatment of depression. In R. E. Ingram (Ed.), Contemporary psychological approaches to depression: Theory, research, and treatment (pp. 137-155). Berlin, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media.

Howe, D. (2012). Attachment theory. In M. Gray, & S. Webb (Eds.), Social work theories and methods (75-87). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publishing.

James, D. (2010). Adult attachment interview. Web.

Kocalevent, R. D., Hinz, A., & Brähler, E. (2013). Standardization of the depression screener patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9) in the general population. General hospital psychiatry, 35(5), 551-555.

Markowitz, J. C., & Weissman, M. M. (2012). Interpersonal psychotherapy: Past, present and future. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 19(2), 99-105.

Ravitz, P., Maunder, R., Hunter, J., Sthankiya, B., & Lancee, W. (2010). Adult attachment measures: A 25-year review. Journal of psychosomatic research, 69(4), 419-432.