Tuesday, September 19, 2006

At last, a psychology-related post!

I'm one of those people who's perfectly happy to re-read books, if I enjoyed them the first time round. I have a lot of books, and I've read most of the multiple times. It's actually easier for me if I've read the book before - I still enjoy it, but with a new book I find it very difficult to tear myself away and do other things, and with an old one I'm happy to put it down because I know what's coming next.

I still have a lot of the books I read as a kid, and I still read them too. I've recently come across some of my old Enid Blytons which I loved as a kid, and there's something really comforting and safe about them. They transport me back to a simpler time when you didn't have to worry about boys or clothes or being unpopular or being fat or clever (a cardinal sin at my school, one which was guaranteed to make everyone hate you - well everyone who was stupid but popular that is) or having frizzy hair.

I have a book called Married Alive by Julie Burchill, in which the main character Nicola/Nicole describes her perfect evening to her therapist. It's being by herself, having a bath and going to bed at half-past seven and drinking Tizer or hot Ribena and eating butterscotch Instant Whip and watching hours of The Singing Ringing Tree or maybe White Horses and "sort of half re-reading Ballet Shoes", "because being perfect means being a child". My choices would be different, but I can relate to that. For me it would be dandelion and burdock, Dairylea sandwiches and either the St. Clare's or Mallory Towers books, or something to do with horses, probably the Jinny series. And it would be dark and rainy outside. And no school in the morning.

Anyway, as usual, I've started in one place and I'm going to move onto another. Bear with me.

I'm pretty sure I've read almost all of Enid Blyton's childrens books. My mum used to go into town on a Thursday for the flea market, and pick up a couple of then second-hand for me every week. I wish I knew where they all were, I know I haven't thrown any away. Anyway. I found a few out the other day, and I've been reading some of the Famous Five books and the thought suddenly struck me.

George (Georgina, whatever), in my humble opinion, was obviously suffering from gender identity disorder. Check out the diagnostic criteria from the bible of mental health specialists, the DSM-IV:

There must be evidence of a strong and persistent cross-gender identification.
Well it continues throughout the books without her "growing out of it", so I'd say so.

This cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex.
Although there are obvious cultural advantages to being male back then (and even now, let's be honest), as illustrated by the repeated use of such phrases as "almost as good as a boy" which imply masculine superiority, this doesn't seem to be the case here. George continues to dress and act as a boy even when she gains no advantage from doing so.

There must also be evidence of persistent discomfort about one's assigned sex or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex.
Definitely. George wants to be a boy, dresses and acts like a boy, and will only answer to "George". She becomes angry and upset if referred to as a girl.

The individual must not have a concurrent physical intersex condition (e.g., androgen insensitivity syndrome or congenital adrenal hyperplasia).
Tricky one. But I'd guess not.

There must be evidence of clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Again, the negative emotions expressed if someone calls her a girl. She also refuses to answer to "Georgina", I believe even going as far as to refuse to acknowledge such people altogether. I'd say that's social impairment. And she does express some distress at not actually being a boy.

I wonder what happened to her later, when she got breasts and had periods and such. Would the wanting to be a boy thing be a passing pre-adolescent phase, or would she go on to persue her masculine gender into adulthood, maybe even have sex reassignment therapy? Was she sexually attracted to boys, or girls? And of course there were three other girls who dressed as/called themselves boys - Jo, Henrietta, and Harriet.

You know what? I think too much.


  1. "You know what? I think too much."

    Ok, but SOMEONE has to do it! I like people who think too much as opposed to people who think too little or don't think at all.

  2. Trouble is, my head is so full of useless rubbish like that, that I forget important stuff. Like paying bills, or doctor's appointments, or friends' birthdays.

    Somehow I never forget to eat though. Stupid selective brain!

  3. I've been thinking recently that I think too much. Probably the reason my recent stress has taken so long to retreat. But I bought a book the other week, although I've only glanced through it so far, called 'Women Who Think Too Much', all about 'how to break free of overthinking and reclaim your life'. Looks to be good and I may start that one when I've finished my current book. Got it on Amazon.