Saturday, January 7, 2012

Submerged Structure: A Poetic Memoir of Schizoid Personality Disorder

     Because I doubt any interviewer will ever ask me this question, I will pose the question of myself. What does the title of your new book of poetry, Submerged Structure, mean?

    The title refers to Schizoid Personality Disorder, which I was diagnosed with at the age of sixteen. It has become a rather rare and archaic diagnosis these days, but the most common symptoms are

  • Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
  • Almost always chooses solitary activities
  • Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person
  • Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities
  • Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
  • Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
  • Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity 
Although impediments to a career in sales to be sure, probably not so much a "career" in poetry. In as much as anyone besides Dr. Maya Angelou can be said to have a career in poetry in the modern world. 

     It's a disorder that involves something missing. But it's a paradoxical disorder because it's a disorder about something missing that the sufferer doesn't miss. Or doesn't know that they miss. At least emotionally. 

     There's a road sign, or was as of three years ago when the picture on the cover of the book was taken, between Byron and Oregon Illinois. The sign reads Submerged Structure, warning those who might be tempted to dive in to the water of the Rock River that something unseen is resident beneath the murky water. I grew up driving past that sign quite frequently, and each time I passed it the words seemed to become more and more personal to me. I would often wonder how many signs like this in the entire world there were. Not many I concluded. Maybe not even any. Maybe it's the only one in the entire world. 

     What lurks beneath the water there? I've never known. But to me it seemed like a perfect metaphor for those of us who suffer from Schizoid Personality Disorder. Except in our case there's no sign we can plant in the ground to warn others. Even if there were it would be virtually impossible to explain that some part of us has broken off and submerged deep inside our psyche, and is either just gone or nearly impossible to get to. 

     Nearly impossible.

     And that's the conflict. That's one of the ongoing challenges of my life. To find ways to be with other people. To reclaim what has been submerged, to bring it to the surface, and to keep it from sinking again.

     That's what the title means and by and large that's what many of the poems are about. About all the ways and all the situations in which I tried to drag myself to the surface, either successfully or unsuccessfully. 

     Thank you for asking.

     You can find out more about me at 

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