Most Western cultures place a great value on autonomy. American society in particular has always stressed the need to succeed via self-reliance, a characteristic which, in recent decades, has additionally manifested itself in an increasing inclination for self-examination reflected in the deluge of autobiographical writing, especially memoirs. This analysis focuses on memoirs of spousal loss, a specific subgenre of life writing in which, due to the loss of a loved one, the narrating self realizes how unstable a sense of autonomy is. In their bereavement narratives, Joan Didion, Anne Roiphe, and Joyce Carol Oates admit that after losing a life partner their world crumbled and so did their sense of self. The article examines the following aspects of the grieving self: 1. how grief tests one’s self-sufficiency; 2. how various grief reactions contribute to self-disintegration; 3. the widow as a new and undesirable identity; and 4. writing as a way of regaining one’s sense of self.
Known yet unknown, undiscovered yet constantly discovered and re-discovered, death has always been a gold mine providing ideas, work and wages for scientists, sociologists, philosophers, artists, literary critics, and many others who find life’s provisionality in any way “uncanny”. This article looks at select literary definitions of death that present mortality as a concept both familiar and unfamiliar, comforting and discomforting, domestic and strange. Like the Freudian term “uncanny”, the nature of mortality is complex, mysterious and elusive. As Terry Eagleton (2003: 211) points out, “[d]eath is both alien and intimate to us, neither wholly strange nor purely one’s own”. While some of Freud’s ideas from his essay “The ‘Uncanny’” are used as the basis for discussion here, this analysis is not limited to a psychoanalytic perspective and includes psychological, sociological, medical and literary references which help explore different aspects of death in literature.
Blood-brain barier (BBB) segregates central nervous system (CNS) from the circulating blood. BBB is formed by the brain capillary endothelial cells with complex tight junctions between them as well as by astrocytes and pericytes. BBB is responsible for transport of selected chemicals into and out of the CNS as well as for its protection from fluctuations in plasma composition following meals, during exercise and from circulating agents such as neurotransmitters, xenobiotics and other potentially harmful substances capable to disturb neural function. BBB may be compromised during CNS injury, infection, fever and in some nerodegenerative diseases. The increase of BBB permeability was observed also during exercise as documented by changes of plasma S-100 protein levels, used as a peripheral marker of BBB integrity. Marked change in BBB integrity during exercise may disturb normal brain function and contribute to the development of central fatigue. Moreover, serum S-100β may indicate level of injury in individuals suffering brain injuries during sports. There are also data suggesting that acute effect of physical exercise on serum S100β levels may not be related with CNS injury. Further studies to establish whether training and which type of it may modulate BBB permeability are needed.