For this self-assessment, I looked at an analytical piece I wrote for psychology class last year. It was a report on Truman Capote’s book, In Cold Blood. The assignment was to read a piece of writing related to psychology and write about its importance in the field. My thesis was that the court condemned the wrong man to the death sentence by not evaluating the psychological analysis of Perry Smith (who I believe had paranoid schizophrenia, and was not in control of his own actions and should not have been prosecuted for decisions which were not his own).
Strengths: I think my thesis was okay and I was pretty good at using my resources. I had a lot of quotes which did most of my work for me in proving my point. I had some solid arguments and some not so solid ones. I probably could have expanded the good ones and gotten rid of the not so good ones.
Weaknesses: I definitely could have spruced up my analysis of my quotes and arguments. I tend have a hard time digging deeper into the text; I was more intent on proving the judgment of the jury through the quotes than analyzing them. I was a little rushed in the conclusion. I merely restated my thesis. I really should have gone a step further. It didn’t add to the paper.
Through this portfolio and the WR100 class, I wish to learn how to craft better arguments (more punchy intros?), improve my analysis, and most of all, write more efficiently (time-wise and word-wise. I often find that my essays have a lot of words strung together that mean nothing at all). I also think I need to work on my conclusions. I need to work on taking my thesis one step further.
Using Symbolism to Overcome the Unknown
Metaphors are used every day to explain in known terms what is not understood. Illnesses are no exception, especially those that have eluded our knowledge of cures. In the age of scientific breakthroughs and belief that all can be cured and understood through science, cultural and symbolic healing are often discounted as fiction and subjected to criticism. Susan Sontag in her essay, “Illness as Metaphor”, expresses this perspective that healing should be exclusively physical, and that diseases should be viewed from a purely scientific standpoint. Metaphoric representations of disease form stigmas and stereotypes against the disease and its patients. She claims that these associations are deleterious to the patient because they keep the patient from understanding the true conditions of his illness. However, I believe that in the right context, metaphoric thinking may actually help the patient. Disease instills in us, a fear— a fear of losing control, a fear of mortality, a fear of the unknown—that we can overcome through symbols and metaphors. Symbols allow us to seek our own understanding of a disease, and separate from the lifeless definitions set in textbooks. They help us to connect back with our life, and regain some control from the illness threatening our vitality.