Anomalous Affections refers both to the narrator’s accommodation of Parkinson’s disease and to her propensity for loving inappropriately. The first part of the book charts the psychological effects of the diagnosis of a chronic disease on her and her partner in the context of the many disappointments of middle age. She finds parallel experiences in the life of Isabelle de Charrière, a French writer of the late eighteenth century. She’s moved to look at her own past (part 2) and tells of her father’s love for her and her mother’s jealousy and, in her twenties, of her unrequited passion for an older man - a relationship that would be repeated thirty-five years later with a psychotherapist. Part 3 describes this eroticised transference.
Questions arise about the therapist’s complicity in her sexual obsession (a complicity that remains ambiguous). Love alternates with rage; she resorts to silence as a weapon. The power imbalance between patient and therapist troubles her, but it seems that this unacceptable structure brings results: she slowly frees herself from her obsession and is able to feel a simple fondness for him. Described by one psychotherapist as a ‘terrifying account of an eroticised transference’, this fiction is unusual in presenting a patient’s viewpoint.
About the Author:
Judith Ravenscroft was born in 1947 and grew up in Hampstead, London. She studied History at London University and became an editor of academic books and of Shakespeare. She started to write fiction after meeting her partner, Timothy Hyman, a painter. Her stories have appeared in various magazines and have won prizes, most recently for her writing about Parkinson’s. She was diagnosed with the disease in 1997, aged fifty.