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Word Count: 1,366
Ordinary People by Judith Guest is the story of a dysfunctional family who relate to one another through a series of extensive defense mechanisms ie an unconscious process whereby reality is distorted to reduce or prevent anxiety The book opens with seventeen year old Conrad son of upper middle-class Beth and Calvin Jarrett home after eight months in a psychiatric hospital there because he had attempted suicide by slashing his wrists His mother is a meticulously orderly person who Jared through projection feels despises him She does all the right things attending to Jareds physical needs keeping a spotless home plays golf and bridge with other women in her social circle but in her own words is an emotional cripple Jareds father raised in an orphanage seems anxious to please everyone a commonplace reaction of individuals who as children experienced parental indifference or inconsistency Though a successful tax attorney he is jumpy around Conrad and according to his wife drinks too many martinisConrad seems consumed with despair A return to normalcy school and home-life appear to be more than Conrad can handleChalk-faced hair-hacked Conrad seems bent on perpetuating the family myth that all is well in the world His family after all are people of good taste They do not discuss a problem in the face of the problem And besides there is no problem Yet there is not one problem in this family but two - Conrads suicide and the death by drowning of Conrads older brother BuckConrad eventually contacts a psychiatrist Dr Berger because he feels the air is full of flying glass and wants to feel in control Their initial sessions together frustrate the psychiatrist because of Conrads inability to express his feelings Berger cajoles him into expressing his emotions by saying Thats what happens when you bury this junk kiddo It keeps resurfacing Wont leave you alone Conrads slow but steady journey towards healing seems partially the result of cathartic revelations
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