Blog #2: Developing Thesis and Interview with author Scott Heim.

The past month has been dedicated to constructing a thesis that examines the culture and conventional vocabulary produced by addiction life styles. Close-reading the text We Disappear has transformed my understanding of addiction as a disability. Professor Hsu and I have exercised questions that have probed the relationship between addiction and a normative lifestyle. Ultimately, my thesis is meant to create theory rather than limit readership’s understanding and relationship with addiction. My theory is to destabilize the normative and “able-bodiness” of the caregiver relationships that concern addiction. Care becomes overwhelmingly subjective after close-reading the novel We Disappear. Each character performs the relationship of care giving for Scott, the methadone addict. Care giving becomes complicated once we apply psychoanalysis to addiction-afflicted relationships because each member is relating to their own symbolic death so to speak.

Professor Hsu and I have established three trajectories to understand the care giver and the addict’s proximity to death:

a)Caregiver ——–> Addict

The care giver maintains the addict’s basic functionality and attempts providing them help to enter a sober lifestyle and a life in recovery. The addict is closer to death than the caregiver. The addict is biologically closer to death and the addict is preserving the addict’s quality of life in hopes they can help the addict change their lifestyle and enter recovery.

b) Caregiver ———-> Addict

The caregiver maintains the addict’s basic functionality in light of helping the addict perform functionality. However, in this trajectory the caregiver registers the addict as their own symbolic death and fully invests themselves in preserving their relationship to their distance to death as an “able-bodied” person. This trajectory registers the caregiver’s susceptibility to their own impairment and disability.

c) Caregiver ———–> Addict

The caregiver is assisting the addict’s lethal practices of consuming substances. In this trajectory the caregiver is the source of substance or “dealing.” The care that is provided for the addict is helping the addict maintain their quality of life that makes the proximity to death smaller and smaller. Care becomes ill defined and disabled. Culturally drug dealers depend on the addict to depend on the economic and habitual care they provide that only leads to greater forms of personal destruction.

Thesis: Addiction is a disability that impairs and disables the able-bodied screen that is culturally produced around the notion of care giving. Scott Heim’s We Disappear posits the impossibility of the able body with that of childhood innocence that is undermined by the essential need to be cared for. Care giving is organic to the disabled experience of preserving the life of the addict who is closest to death in care giving relationships. 

I reached out to the author of the novel, Scott Heim, to see if he would be open to answering some questions about disability theory and addiction and he is more than excited to help contribute to my research. This also serves as one of the first academic writings performed for his third and latest novel.