David Foster Wallace The Depressed Person Summary

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Empathy as Catharsis: Study on David Foster Wallace’s “The Depressed Person”


Introduction: The academic studies on David Foster Wallace so far center around Infinite Jest, which was published early in his carrier. However, his short stories[ He has never published novels --”the long thing” he called it-- after Infinite Jest.] after Infinite Jest is as important as the novel to appreciate what he achieved and who he was. One of the story in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, “The Depressed Person” deals with the central proposition of Wallace: true empathy is impossible. The protagonist, the depressed person, is a female patient who suffers from immense depression. Medical aids do not take much effect, and she relies on her so-called Support System, which consists of her former friends. She calls a member of Support System member at night and talks about her emotional agony. While doing so, she has somehow progressed to healing in the psychiatric therapy, although her state of mind became worse than ever after her therapist’s sudden suicide. Finally, however, she accept that her feeling toward the therapist’s loss is not a mourning, but the sense of abandonment, namely, selfish feeling of loss. In the climax part she asserts in rhetorical question that nobody can feel anything about others. In the context of empathy, some preceding thesis addresses Brief Interviews and “The Depressed Person.” Marshall Boswell, a researcher of
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