Flowers for Algernon: Charlie's Psychological Traumas
Medical operations are carried out everyday, but for some, an operation can
change a person's life. One experiment was done on a mentally retarded person
to try to raise his intelligence. The experiment worked, but after months, the
patient regressed dramatically. In the book, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel
Keyes, this intelligence operation was preformed, and the patient was Charlie
Gordon. After the operation, Charlie was very bright, but experienced
psychological traumas, loneliness, disillusionment, and social inadequacies.
Charlie's psychological traumas or emotional upset was caused by his memory
recalls. After his operation, he remembered every aspect of his childhood,
whether it was good or bad. "...He's normal! He's normal! He'll grow up like
other people. Better than others..." Charlie had dreams of how his mother was
ashamed of him. His mother always thought her son was normal and would grow up
and be somebody. "...He's like a baby. He can't play Monopoly or checkers or
anything. I won't play with him anymore..." Charlie's sister also ignored him.
To her, Charlie was dumb and could not do anything. Charlie had dreams of his
sister yelling at him and making fun of him. He also had memories of the night
his parents took him to the Warren Home. He was terrified and his dad would
never answer his questions. Charlie remembered his childhood and through his
memories, he felt guilty for hurting his family.
After the operation, Charlie also suffered from disillusionment. In the
bakery he used to have friends. Friends that would talk to him and care about
him. "...Why? Because all of the sudden your a bigshot. You think you are
better than the rest of us..." Charlie then realized that he had no friends but
merely knew people that made fun of him. The bakery employees just liked him
because they could blame their mistakes on Charlie. Then, they could not do
this after the operation, so they all turned against Charlie. "...I had to find
out just how much they knew. I found out. Nothing..." "Both frauds" Charlie
also found out about Nemur and Strauss. He realized they were not professionals,
but two men that were taking a shot in the dark. Charlie felt like an
expendable lab specimen. Thus, Charlie had lost his friends and knew now he was
just a like a lab rat. Charlie had lacked faith in his fellow man.
"...Thoughts of suicide to stop it all while I am still in control..."
Everyday Charlie lost a piece of himself. He was starting to regress and
thought about suicide to end his up and down life. He became irritable and edgy
around people at the university. He would become mad at people very quickly and
then yell at them. His self-centered and arrogant personality was a symptom of
his regression. People stayed away from him because he was becoming a madman
and was unpredictable. Because of this, Charlie became lonely in his last weeks
before he regressed totally.
"...Intelligence without the ability to give and receive affection can lead
to a mental breakdown..." Charlie experienced social inadequacies while he was
intelligent. "...You know as well as I do, you don't need to work here
anymore..." Charlie lost his job because he was to smart to work in a bakery.
He could not socially interact with people he worked with and the people he met.
Also, Charlie could not perform with Alice or Fay. "...I saw him watching me
with his eyes wide open. I couldn't do it..." He experienced illusions when he
tried to make love with Alice. The "Charlie" inside of himself emerged and
started to regain control of his mind. All in all, Charlie suffered from the
pain of not knowing how to deal with his peers and decisions.
Therefore, after the operation, Charlie became a smart man but he had to
pay the price for it. He had psychological traumas, suffered from loneliness
and illusions, and did not know how to act with his peers. Charlie regressed
and finally went to the Warren Home, but he at least experienced the world
through normal eyes. On the other hand, Charlie might of been better off
without the experiment. He would still have friends and a job, but most
important of all, he would have a life.
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