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My Speech for Victor's Mental Health Analysis in Choke

The book I read is called Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. The main character’s name is Victor Mancini, and the 3 supporting characters are Denny who is Victor’s best friend, Ida who is Victor’s mom and Paige Marshall who has something to do with Victor’s mom’s nursing home. Victor’s mom suffers from a mental disorder (78) and is unable to parent him so he is placed in various foster homes. During his childhood, his mother kidnaps him and shares her psychotic conspiracy theory babble and fake medical facts. They eventually are caught, or she does something stupid and get’s put back in jail, and victor sent back to a foster home. This messes up Victor’s childhood and later leads to his inability to sustain lasting or stable relationships with women.

Victor and his best friend Denny work at a colonial reenactment park. Originally Victor was in medical school but dropped out to make money in order to pay for his mom’s medical bills. All the employees are stoners or drunks. Denny is constantly getting in trouble and almost every day ends up the stocks. Victor neglects his own duties to keep Denny company, to pull up his breaches when they’re falling down since Denny’s hands are locked, to scratch an itch or keep the kids coming by from slapping Denny’s bum. Victor explains how he’d rather work such a horrible job with his best friend than work a decent one alone. This is one example of Victor and Denny’s codependent relationship with Victor being the rescuer or caretaker and Denny being the rescued, the one with the actual addiction (ill get to that later). Victor’s mom ultimately ends up in a nursing home, her brain decaying from what appears to be Alzheimer’s or dementia. Victor is unable to pay the bills and starts a scheme where he goes into restaurants and pretends to choke on food. After someone “saves” him, he explains how his mother is in a nursing home and that he can’t pay the bills and they give him money (I'll get into that later too). When Victor is not working or pulling his choking gig, he’s cruising sex addiction 12 step meetings for nymphomaniacs to have sex with. It is easy to identify a multitude of possible mental disorders in the characters from this book, for some of them I had hard time finding all the necessary supporting evidence. For the main character, Victor, I ended up choosing “Identity problem” which is an “uncertainty about multiple issues relating to identity such as long-term goals, career choice, friendship patterns, sexual orientation and behavior, moral values, and group loyalties. “ This diagnosis would obviously go on axis 1. While Victor lived with his mom (before his foster homes or while she kidnapped him), she would tell him things like “Nothing you learn in school is this important…this stuff you’re learning here will save your life.” (94). The kinds of things he was learning “here”, which in one instance was when his mother had stopped the car in the middle of highway and said at airports the announcement “’Mr. Amond Silvestri, please meet your party at gate ten on the D concourse’ means that’s where the SWAT teams will find their man’”.(94). She also is described by victor snorting white powder which could be coke or heroin. She also huffs something from a small tube while saying “trichloroethane…All my extensive testing has shown this to be the best treatment for a dangerous excess of human knowledge.” (that’s an opiate).

After getting arrested, Victor’s mom stands in front of the judge at her trial and says “My goal is to be an engine of excitement in people’s live…My purpose is to give people glorious stories to tell…Convicting me would be redundant. Our bureaucracy and our laws have turned the world into a clean, safe work camp…We are raising a generation of slaves.” Victor then says “And it was back to prison for Ida Mancini”.

This woman is delusional, possibly suffering from paranoid delusions, schizophrenia, which may or may not be substance induced, but I think her mental disorder lead to her substance abuse. The point of explaining this all is to say that Victor’s mom definitely had a negative impact on his psycho-social or psychological development (I don’t know the right terms).

Now, as I mentioned earlier, because of his shaky childhood, the mother-son dysfunctional relationship and jumping from foster home to foster for reasons unknown, Victor is unable to sustain personal relationships, especially with women. He jumps from one girl to another, every night of the week having sex with a different girl, usually from a sex addictions anonymous meeting. He also tells stories of multiple anonymous sex encounters like on the train (explain train thing), on the plane and at his work with a teacher who had her class visiting the colonial reenactment theme park. I would have chosen sex addiction as his primary diagnosis but I couldn't find it in the DSM-4. Also, he explains how he never related to any of the experiences from the other members at the sex addictions anonymous meetings, nor from the book, in fact he finds their stories to be repulsive. But he loves all the different new techniques he learned from there, like cutting holes in his pockets so he could masturbate in public. This leads me to believe that either he isn't really a sex addict, or that he is just in denial.

Choking stunt started for money, “Why I do this is to put adventure back into people’s lives…Why I do this is to create heroes. Put people to the test…Like mother, like son…Somebody saves your life, and they’ll love you forever.” (49). Grandiose, thinks he’s doing these people a favor, but also to collect money. Suggestion of anti-social behavior. No fear of getting caught. Over 300 people who “saved” him. “and its funny how when somebody saves you, the first thng you want to do is save other people.

Codependent relationship with Denny explains denny is not really his best friend, but more of someone he can always save..33 …inability to create lasting relationships with women, Having to drop out of medical school….

I don’t think Victor has any major disorders. I think he is experiencing a [Halfway to midlife] crisis of sorts…His mother’s condition starts deteriorating, so he has to drop out of medical school and work fulltime in order to pay off medical bills for his psycho mom, which isn't too fond of at all, that definitely has to create major stress. Add his messed up childhood which has created relationship and codependency problems. How the hell he can get himself to fake choking and cause such a big scene everyday is past me, but it seems as if he has rationalized himself doing that with the martyrdom of Saint Me crap. I mean he’s not as smart as he seems, he almost seems delusional. I think he is coping with sex and his mini-crisis by believing he is some savior (with partial influence from other characters). Paige Marshall totally tricks him and he finds out that if he didn't realize who she really was at the end, he would have been in a LOT of trouble. He’s like oh man! I would recommend Victor see a therapist and attend group therapy, outside of 12 step meetings.

Literature


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