Emotions, culture, and mental illness: A short history of my father. By Luis R. Medina, Edited by Leyla Namazie. ISBN-13: 13: 978-1888205718. 242 pages. $23.95
This is a joint publication of Floricanto and Berkeley Presses.
In his first book, Emotions, Culture And Mental Illness: A Short History Of My Father, the author takes the reader on a poignant journey of self-discovery when he decides to go to Puerto Rico in search of “Monchito,” his psychopathic father whom he had not seen in nearly three decades. He explores the subject of emotions—primarily from the perspective of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)—and debunks the widely held notion that psychopaths are “emotionless” beings. What exactly are emotions? How do we learn to feel anything? As he examines these issues, the author takes us on an anthropological field trip deep into the harsh realities of Puerto Rico’s island culture, both past and present; he tells us the story of how he learned to become an Americano through his immersion in books, movies, and the English language. He also discusses the ambiguous political status of Puerto Ricans referring to them as a “different kind of American,” who are “neither here nor there.”
Throughout the narrative, we come face-to-face with the book’s chief subject: Monchito, his life and his times. His story is presented with brutal candor, submerging us into the depths of human suffering and the devastating effects of poverty and mental illness. Monchito’s story—told in parallel to that of the author’s—challenges the reader to explore the inseparable relationshipbetween emotions and ideas and question our notions of American identity in a fundamentally new light.
Luis R. Medina was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and raised in Lorain, Ohio. He lived and worked in New York City for many years where he earned his B.A. from Queens College and an M.A. from Columbia University in Cultural Anthropology. He currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado and owns an impressive collection of hats.