The Glass Castle

what are the mental illnesses Janette's mother and father have?

what are the mental illnesses Janette's mother and father have from a psychological perspective?

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Rex Walls is a hopeless alcoholic. He cannot keep a job. He claims he has grand plans but really just drinks.

Jeannette’s mother, Rose Mary Walls claims she is an artist and a sort of cultural rebel. She really is just rebelling against her own mother's very sensible and practical approach to life. It is not really mentioned what exact mental illness she has but she definitely has issues. She is selfish, frequently hording chocolate while the children starve. She has little empathy for her children. When questioned about getting a job she says, “I’m an artist, why do I have to work? Your father doesn’t do anything.” Because of her great difficulty with social contact, even with her kids, I thought that she might have a mild form of Asperger's syndrome but that is just a guess.

I strongly suspect that the mother, Rose Mary, was bipolar. She is definitely NOT Asperger's. (I am a teacher and teach many kids with Asperger's.) Rose Mary reminds me of my own mother growing up, who would vascillate between being kind and being completely disengaged from my upbringing --despite being in the same house together. Rose Mary exhibits bouts of depression, and her craving of sugar/chocolate is indicative of a chemical imbalance in the brain --most likely a seratonin or dompanine deficiency.

Both parents are Narcistic,while reading the book and the 7 deadly sins of Narcissim, you could be able to relate most actually all the the sins to them,they fit all the category.they just give a clear description to it.Here are the 7 deadly sins:

1) Shamelessness:Narcissist have no shame ghoulish,inability to process it in a healthy way

2) Magical Thinking:They see themselves as perfect,they use distortion and illusion known as magical thinking

3)arrogance:A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else

4)envy:A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person's ability by using contempt to minimize the other person

5)Entitlement:they excpect favourable treatment failure to do so the person is considered diffucult or akward.

6)exploitation:can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed

7)Bad Boundries:narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all


Glass Castle Litrature class Dr Manley(JCSU)

I am just reading the book now and started to think Narcissim about halfway through. Definitely agree with the theory that at least the Mother is so. Narcissism is a personality disorder as opposed to a severe mental illness. But it can be very disabling and usually persons with personality disorders can function under the best of conditions but tend to deteriorate with age. Harder to tell with Rex as his alcoholism would mask his true personality and any mental disorders he might have. Certainly they both also exhibit signs of paranoia. Maybe I'll understand more as I progress with the book.


Retired mental health professional. There is a lot of information out there about personality disorders.

I'd say Rex suffered from ptsd, not only from sexual, violent, and psychological abuse as a child, but from losing his infant daughter, Mary Charlene. Substance abuse is I believe classified as a mental disorder.

wow I must say I am listening/reading this book and I suspect to far narcissism with both parents, PTSD with father and a sort of Bipolar on Mother side...I still can't pin point of what I keep reading on Autism Spectrum on the mother but whoa brings flashbacks on my mother side of the family..raised by my grandmother and aunt has exhibit narcissism disorder or NPD

Rex is a raging alcoholic.

Rose Mary is more complicated. She reminds me of my own mother in some ways. She may be bipolar or she may have anti-social personality disorder (a sociopath).