Week 3: Struggle with Impulse
The DSM-IV outlines the following symptoms for someone to be diagnosed with obsession:
  • recurrent, persistent ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that are not voluntary
  • attempts are made to suppress or ignore obsessions
  • great source of distress
  • interference with social functioning
  • impairment is moderate to severe

OPTIONAL: Listen to a case study that involves obsessive-complusive disorder and notice, in particular, the obsessions, or uncontrollable thoughts, of the patient. Read through all the following instructions before proceeding to the taped case study.

This case study gives you a little insight into the nature of obsessions.

Next, we get to our reading passage, the famous The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. This is not the warm, fuzzy cast of characters from the 1996 Disney movie but focuses on an abbe who is tortured, obsessed and pining away for Esmeralda, the gypsy girl. He has has killed her love interest, Phoebus. We pick up the story with Esmeralda locked in prison awaiting the gallows. She has been placed there through the work the abbe, called "the priest" here. In this passage, the priest approaches Esmeralda in prison and finally confesses his intense love for her.

    1. The priest admits that he's had a history of dealing with sexual urges in the past. What has he done to stop these emotions?
    2. Who did the priest see out of the window of his cell that he becomes obsessed with?
    3. The priest says of the gypsy girl, "She was an angel! But an angel of flame, not of light." What does he mean by this?
    4. The priest says, "The vesper bells awakened m. I stood up and fled but, alas, something in me had fallen which could not be raised up abain, something had arrived from which I could not escape." What is the significance of this passage?
    5. What three things does the priest do to try to keep the gypsy girl away from him?
    6. The priest feels horrible that he has incarcerated the gypsy girl. What does he do to himself to attone for this sin as he's watching the gypsy girl tortured?
    7. The gypsy girl says, "Just look at you, Father,...you have blood under your fingernails." This is intended to bring the priest back to reality. What was he saying that was so unrealistic?
    8. What choice does the gypsy girl finally make at the end of the passage?
    9. From the DSM-IV criteria listed above, what elements are present in the priest's behaviors? Do you think the elements of this story illustrate obsession?
  • There is a great passage that illustrates the hopelessness of obsessed love in this story. The priest asks Esmeralda, "You're suffering, aren't you? You're cold, the darkness blinds you, the dungeon presses in on you; but perhaps you still have a glimmer of light within you, be it only your childish love for that hollow man [Phoebus] who was playing with your heart. But as for me, I bear the dungeon inside myself; inside me there is winter, ice and despair; my soul is plunged in darkness. Do you know everything I have suffered?" This illustrates the priest's emotions, locked into the recesses of his being, yearning to be free but never being released.

    When you've finished paste your work into an e-mail titled "Week 3 Homework." Then e-mail your work to me at aeaptl@gmail.com.

Week 3 homework is to be completed by 3:00 pm
Monday, March 9
for full credit. It will accepted after that date for half credit.

When e-mailing your work, be sure to paste your work INTO your e-mail.
Do NOT include your work as an attachment.

Lesson Copyright ©2009 Clay Sisman