Andrew Solomon Son Identity Analysis

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In the reading “Son” by Andrew Solomon, horizontal and vertical identities are compared and dissected through the lenses of society’s perceptions. A vertical identity is when “attributes and values are passed down from parent to child not only through DNA, but also through shared cultural norms”, while a horizontal identity is when “someone has an inherent or acquired trait that is foreign to his or her parents” (370). Solomon being a gay, dyslexic man brought up as an anti-Jew Jew, has well delved into the controversy of the ethics between what is considered an illness versus what is accepted as an identity. In the reading “Son”, Solomon narrates his struggle with identity from his early ages to present, and shows the development of his ethical…show more content…
According to Solomon, a horizontal identity is one that is not an illness but a crucial part of an individual that makes them who they are. “If you banish the dragons, you banish the heroes…” (386). Like how the deaf community found the cochlear implants as an insult against their community, Solomon would view these scientific advances to “fix” these “defects” not positive, but instead a negative trend in society. “Labelling a child’s mind as diseased…may reflect the discomfort that mind gives parents more than any discomfort it causes their child. Much gets corrected that might better have been left alone” (372). Solomon believes our mind and self can be represented with the Copenhagen interpretation. Just like how energy and matter sometimes acts as a wave or a particle, the “similar duality” can be applied to an individual (372). Many situations are a mixture of both illness and identity, however if we were to obscure one part of the equation, only then would we be able to see the other. Consequently, Solomon believes society should change their standpoint of illness not being part of a person’s identity and instead come up with “syncretic mechanics” where the “two concepts are not opposites, but compatible aspects of a condition” (372). He believes “Self-acceptance is part of the ideal, but without familial and social acceptance, it cannot ameliorate the relentless injustices to which many horizontal identity groups are subject and will not bring adequate reform”

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