Aranka Tiringer, István Tiringer: Coping with illness and trauma in Frigyes Karinthy’s novel A journey round my skull

In our paper we analyze coping with a life-threatening illness and its operation on the basis of some chapters of Frigyes Karinthy’s novel A journey round my skull. We analyzed all psychological reactions delineating diagnosing, operation and convalescence of the illness according to the Bern Coping Forms developed by Edgar Heim. Our results show that on the basis of the novel’s text we can reconstruct stable coping strategies (e.g. humour, problem analysis, active initiation), and as well as coping forms which are related to specific phases of the illness (e.g. distraction, self-blame, heroizing). In our analysis not all reactions to the illness were identifiable as coping strategies.

Traumatic experiences during diagnosing and operation mobilize unconscious defence mechanisms as well. The novel depicts authentic mental defeat in traumatizing situations. In our opinion one of the motivations of writing this novel could have been as well subsequent coping with traumatic experiences and construction of a self healing illness narrative.

The analysis of Karinthy’s novel has heuristic value in elucidating relationships between coping, defence and traumatization mechanisms.

Keywords: Frigyes Karinthy – A journey round my skull – coping – defence – traumatization – self-healing

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