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Ordinary People Ordinary People by Judith Guest is the story of a dysfunctional familywho relate to one another through a series of extensive defense mechanisms ie anunconscious process whereby reality is distorted to reduce or prevent anxiety The bookopens with seventeen year old Conrad son of upper middle-class Beth and Calvin Jarretthome after eight months in a psychiatric hospital there because he had attempted suicideby slashing his wrists His mother is a meticulously orderly person who Jared throughprojection feels despises him She does all the right things attending to Jareds physicalneeds keeping a spotless home plays golf and bridge with other women in her socialcircle but in her own words is an emotional cripple Jareds father raised in anorphanage seems anxious to please everyone a commonplace reaction of individuals whoas children experienced parental indifference or inconsistency Though a successful taxattorney 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 appearto be more than Conrad can handleChalk-faced hair-hacked Conrad seems bent onperpetuating the family myth that all is well in the world His family after all are peopleof good taste They do not discuss a problem in the face of the problem And besidesthere is no problem Yet there is not one problem in this family but two - Conradssuicide and the death by drowning of Conrads older brother Buck Conrad eventuallycontacts a psychiatrist Dr Berger because he feels the air is full of flying glass andwants to feel in control Their initial sessions together frustrate the psychiatrist because ofConrads inability to express his feelings Berger cajoles him into expressing his emotionsby saying Thats what happens when you bury this junk kiddo It keeps resurfacingWont leave you alone Conrads slow but steady journey towards healing seems partiallythe result of cathartic revelations which purge guilt feelings regarding his brothers deathand his familys denial of that death plus the love of a
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