The Fragility of the Mind


Jessica Arbing

“If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t.”

– Ian Stewart, The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

Fragility is something easily broken or something to be safely protected. Our minds could be conceptualized in the same way. The world, at times, can be overwhelming, and understanding its complexities can often feel unfathomable. Arguably, what is more difficult is trying to understand ourselves, because, similar to our world, we are limitless in possibilities. The astonishing pieces in this chapter explore the fragility of the mind in various ways. They try to understand its delicacy through science, literature, others around us, and even reveal that sometimes the worst enemy to the mind is the mind itself.

In “The Phenomenon of Anxiety: Exploring Pathology Through Medicine, Psychology, and Existentialism”, the author searches for answers through three prominent psychological methods of understanding anxiety. In this way, it reflects the ways in which we try to address our lack of understanding. This is an academic piece that acknowledges how all individual minds suffering from anxiety react differently to treatments and solutions. What works for one person may interact negatively with another. This piece takes a critical approach to the mind and it reaction to increased anxiety and ultimately what that means within our social world.

We dedicate so much time to protecting our minds, ensuring that we don’t break. If our minds contain limitless possibilities, the minds of even those closest to us may seem even more foreign. In the “The Sighting”, two friends, Abe and Hudson, witness what they believe to be a UFO. But how can these characters really trust what they have seen? Or trust each other? While the characters deliberate what to do, the question could be raised: can our minds deceive us?

Sometimes our minds are their own worst enemies, and unwanted feelings can creep in. The poem “to the moon” explores obsessive thoughts and the belief that you just can’t escape them. While the poem uses elegant language, the roots of fear, stress, and heartbreak always seem to make their way in. Thus, this poem emphasizes how our minds may be obsessed with insignificant things, and yet, they can consume us. Similarly, “Scribble me an angel” explores what happens when our minds become pessimistic about our future. The dark imagery paints a picture of the depressed mind and the battle with our inner monsters that ensues. There is fragility in feeling trapped.

The reliability of our memory is often discussed and deliberated. In “Living in the Past: The Importance of Memory in The Return of the Soldier and To the Lighthouse”, the author draws on the works of Rebecca West and Virginia Woolf to illustrate how our minds and memory are not a fixed entity, but rather are flexible and easily manipulated.

The authors within this chapter have distinctly different topics relating to the mind. Though their topics vary, it is clear how fragility and vulnerability are executed in both their topics and their writing.


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Quod Erat Demonstrandum Copyright © 2019 by Jessica Arbing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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