The Malingerer Goes To the Movies by Scott Norman Rosenthal

“The Malingerer Goes to the Movies,”
(a Dis-Ability Coming-Out poem,
for Colin Kempner, and Judith Wright)

You’re sitting there,
and it’s getting harder to breathe.
It feels as if a little man, like a gnome,
has crept up the back of your seat,
and dropped a net into your head,
over your brain…

You glance at the woman sitting next to you,
and she isn’t there…
You look at the screen, and it seems unreal,
like a bad film…

Are you in a theater at all?
Are you in a room filled with water?

Show’s over, you’re out in the parking lot,
wondering how to get home…

(Scott Norman Rosenthal, Autumn ’82)


This poem was the first attempt to record the bizarre symptomatology of my debilitating neuro-metabolic imbalance.


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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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