Maria Micaela Coppola

Psychiatric Fictional Pathography: The Alzheimer's Brain in Lisa Genova's Still Alice and Samantha Harvey's The Wilderness

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This paper discusses the use of fictional narratives as tools to gain insight into illness and, specifically, the workings of the extra-ordinary mind of people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. I propose a definition for 'psychiatric fictional pathography', that is, for fictive accounts that describe the effects mental disease has on patients, witnesses, and ultimately readers. This paper aims at exploring how literary texts can help throwing light on obscure brain areas, through an analysis of the logico-scientific and narrative fictional accounts of the Alzheimer's brain in Lisa Genova's Still Alice (2007) and in Samantha Harvey's "The Wilderness" (2009), and through a reflection on the different ways in which these novels engage readers in the process of understanding mental illness.


  • Narrative
  • Brain
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Still Alice
  • The Wilderness


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