Is it a physical ailment, or a psychosis? This is just one of the many questions that readers - like the Farnsworths themselves - will grapple with as they read The Unnamed
, Joshua Ferris's devastating second novel. From the moment that Tim tells his wife Jane that "It's back," Tim - not to mention his wife and their disaffected daughter Becka - is off on a journey in and out of despair, confusion, and unanswered questions.
Tim, a successful Manhattan lawyer, is beset periodically by a compulsion to walk - in all weather and without a particular aim in sight. He walks until he collapses in exhaustion and falls asleep, often waking in sketchy alleyways, on frosty park benches, or in hospitals. While Tim walks like a man possessed, Jane repeatedly conducts her own, more frantic, journey - to find Tim and help him before his compulsion leaves him physically or...
Beyond the Book
Although Tim Farnsworth's condition never receives an official diagnosis in The Unnamed
, his relentless walking might seem to belong to the category of obsessive/compulsive disorders.
Obsessions are defined as recurrent, unavoidable thoughts, and compulsions are categorized as repetitive behaviors. Obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder, since not performing the compulsive behavior can result in increasing anxieties, and often patients perform the compulsive behavior specifically to try - successfully or not - to ward off anxiety.
For many people suffering from compulsive behaviors, the disorder takes the form of one or more "rituals" or routines that must be performed in the exact same...