Ordinary People

Topics: Psychological trauma, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Suicide Pages: 7 (2715 words) Published: May 19, 2013
Ordinary People, by Judith Guest, was about a family who has had two tragedies and how they dealt with these tragedies. This story shows how the environment in which one lives affects ones reaction to tragedy.

The Jarred family, were ordinary people. The family consisted of the father Calvin, the mother Beth and two sons Buck and Conrad. They were an upper class family in good financial standing. They apparently had a happy life until Buck died in a boating accident.

Calvin was a concerned father and husband. He tried to keep everyone happy. Beth, who was the mother and wife, was a cold frigid woman, who liked everything organized. She was very rigid and wanted everything in its place. Beth appeared to be concerned about her own needs, never about the needs of others. She was egocentric and narcissistic. She was unable to share her feelings of love, happiness or sadness. Conrad’s parents, especially his mother, loved Buck. Buck was on the swim team and the best on his team. He needed more attention to follow through on things and appears to have been a bit of a daredevil. Conrad, a senior in high school, appears to have been a good child who always followed rules and regulations; never requiring his parents to remind him of things; he was always on task.

Buck and Conrad went out boating. The weather started turning bad and instead of going back to the harbor, they continued boating. When the storm got bad, Conrad was telling Buck to bring down the sail but he could not. The boat capsized and they were both in the water. Buck told his brother Conrad they had to hold on to each other. Conrad tried unsuccessfully to hold onto his brother. Buck drowned and Conrad survived.

Beth did not show her feelings at her son’s funeral. She was concerned with how her son and husband looked. She told her husband to change his shirt and shoes. Calvin tried to take care of his remaining family, trying to keep communication going without much success. Conrad had a lot of guilt. He blamed himself for his brother’s death. He became depressed. He was not sleeping or eating. He was daydreaming in school; he was on the swim team but was not doing very well. He was withdrawn and did not talk to his parents or his friends. Conrad was in a very bad place psychologically.

Conrad slit his wrists (suicide attempt). He spent four months in a psychiatric hospital. He felt comfortable there. At the hospital he was able to talk about his feelings and thoughts. He made friends with another patient, Karen, who was also depressed.

When Conrad was released from the hospital, his mother was trying to act as if nothing had happened. Everyone was all right and no one had any problems. His father had continued to ask if he, Conrad, had called the psychiatrist for an outpatient appointment. His father knew going to see the psychiatrist would help him through out his recovery. On the other hand his mother did not want him to see the psychiatrist. She was worried about what others would think of her perfect family.

It took a while before Conrad finally called for an appointment. When he finally did, he was turned off when he called Dr. Burger because he was with a patient and he could not talk with him at the moment. Dr. Burger did offer to call him back but Conrad said no he would call later. It seemed Conrad felt rejected. I was surprised to find out that Conrad finally did call Dr. Burger back because sometimes when a patient’s needs are not addressed right away the patient becomes resistant and never calls back.

The initial interview is very important, whether it is in person or by telephone. Conrad was very nervous at first meeting with Dr. Burger. He did not know what to say or how to act. At the initial meeting Dr. Burger ask why Conrad was there. Conrad stated he wanted to be in control but did not say in control of what. He told the doctor how he felt. He felt jumpy. He thought he did not...
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