The ‘wounded woman’ in fiction has always been a troublesome concept. From the glamorisation of nineteenth-century asylum inmates to the belittling of the contemporary memoirist, the ‘woman who cried pain’ is viewed as either enticing and prophetic or narcissistic and dishonest. For the female writer with a mental disorder, the implication that she should not write of her suffering for fear of cliché is overtly damaging. In ‘A grand unified theory of female pain’, Leslie Jamison discusses the importance of the creative expression of pain, and questions whether it is possible to do so while eluding stigma. I will build on Jamison’s considerations by establishing a fictocritical dialogue between writer and critic, suggesting an avoidance of diagnostic discourse and the shifting of narrative focus towards characterisation that encourages resilience, yet refuses to apologise for or suppress pain.
Writing the ‘wounded woman’ from a non-diagnostic perspective