Sandra Cisneros Never Marry a Mexican she means to show the perspective of a
mentally ill woman, Clemencia. By telling the story from this woman’s point of
view we are forced to give our attention to a person that is typically
villainized, dismissed or otherwise given the wrong attention. Clemencia is not
fucking crazy that’s dismissive, she’s also not evil, she’s ill. We romanticize
the mentally ill for whatever reason but we should dissect them instead, and
that is what I strive to do, I want to understand her burden of illness in hope
for a cure. Sandra Cisneros raises awareness on mental illness by telling Clemencia’s
Throughout the story she shows signs of grandiosity, narcissism, OCD, obsessive love disorder and borderline personality disorder. While I admit it is difficult to pinpoint her exact diagnosis I will point out a variety of varying and intersecting symptoms of disorders/illnesses that prove she is in fact sick. One could argue that Clemencia has borderline personality disorder or any variety of OCD since her symptoms are interchangeable. I would like to argue that she has obsessive love disorder but since OLD intersects with other forms of mental health disabilities it’s hard to say for sure.
According to healthline.com symptoms of obsessive love disorder include: an overwhelming attraction to one person, obsessive thoughts about the person, possessive thoughts and actions and extreme jealousy over other interpersonal interactions (Cherney, Kristeen). She hates the white woman Megan and goes out of her way to put Gummy Bears in only her things. While Megan is giving birth Clemencia sleeps with her husband, she’s so jealous that it’s almost vindictive, as if Drew is hers and Megan took him from her and now she needs to seek revenge, and she does by sleeping with her husband throughout their marriage. Clemencia is obsessive when she waits for their son to grow up so she can sleep with him and have power over him. She has an overwhelming attraction to Drew. She gives details to the color of his beard his skin and even finds her worth in his attraction to her. She is obsessed with Drew when she describes him “nude as a pearl.. you’d dissolve like snow”(78).
The death of Clemencia’s father was traumatizing for her and (while there could be genetic factors) this is where her illness stemmed from. When describing her father in the hospital she uses the word Daddy, this is childlike which makes you feel for her. When she describes how she feels she says, “like if they’d beaten me, or pulled my insides out through my nostrils…”(74). Often times when it comes to trauma people remember the smells more than anything, she even says what she remembered most was the smell, like death was already sitting on his chest (74). This was painful for Clemencia and she never dealt with this old pain and it attached itself to an illness, it burdened her and consumed her life like a cancer. She never forgave her mother and hated her for cheating on her daddy while he was dying. Her longing and unresolved grief for her father carried over into adulthood into her obsession with Drew. And her hatred for her mother carried over into hating Megan.
she sleeps with their son she says “I can’t see a trace of my lover in
this boy” (82). But she also says he “has an ass like his father’s
and that back like a valentine” (82). He resembled his father in some way
and so her obsession continued into their son. He also looks like Megan so she
uses the boy to gain power over him, and in an indirect way, get back at her
Directed at the boy Clemencia said “I created you from spit and red dust. And I can snuff you between my finger and thumb if I want to (75).” This is an example of narcissism; an excessive need for admiration. Later she sleeps with the boy, their son, and she gets a sense of power. Again, this could be linked to narcissism and/or obsessive love disorder.
When Clemencia first starts telling her story she is bias, like most people, but unlike most people she uses sophism to tell it. Sophism is a type of rhetoric used by individuals who use logic to twist the meanings of words in order to represent themselves in a better light or to suit their needs. This is a tactic used commonly by those who suffer with a mental illness/disorder such as obsessive love disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. Sandra Cisneros shows Clementia’s use of sophism and her inability to take responsibility in the first two pages. The writer shows us that Clementia’s reality is a little warped hinting at her mental illness. An example of this is when she says “I’ve never married and never will. Not because I couldn’t, but because I’m too romantic for marriage… It’s because I believe too much in marriage that I don’t. Better to not marry than live a lie” (69). In reality she has commitment issues and a fear of Abandonment because her father abandoned her with his death. Then she frees herself from self-responsibility when she says “my mother did this to me” (69). She proceeds to blame men, her mother, anyone but herself.
I think awareness is helpful especially when it comes to stigmas, but it’s not enough. I think a lot of people are deficient in love but the mentally ill especially. Clemencia is aware that something is off with herself. She says it’s “something that poisons the blood and tips me when the night swells and I feel as if the whole sky were leaning against my brain”(83). To summarize Sandra Cisneros she doesn’t know what makes her so crazy in the middle of the night whether it be suicide or homicide she is so outside of herself that she would be an innocent bystander (83). She needs help and maybe if she knew what she was suffering from she could get it. But of course if she knew she would still have obstacles in front of her since there is so much more to be discovered about mental illness.
Why is it as a society that we romanticize those suffering with a mental illness but not physical illness? More often than not we don’t understand them so we either dismiss them with the title evil or we romanticize them. Imagine calling someone with a lower respiratory infection evil or someone with the simple flu, tissue in hand, throwing up in sexy villainous black costume. A few cinematic examples of this are Christian Bale from American Psycho, Jared Leto as the Joker and Zac Efron as Ted Bundy in the film extremely Wicked, shockingly evil and vile. By romanticizing the sick we are feeding their illness and ignoring their pain. Mental illness is one of the worst sicknesses to suffer from because it is so widely misunderstood and mistreated. Whether she suffers from narcissistic personality disorder or obsessive love disorder or any variety or combination or disorders Clementia is deprived of living her life because of her layer of narcissism that blocks her from being herself. Her defense mechanism sabotages her ability to live a healthy life and she spends it seeking revenge and obsessing over people. She is imprisoned by her anger and pain.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek. Random House, Inc., 1991
Cherney, Kristeen. “Obsessive Love Dissorder”, Legg, Timothy J. January 10, 2018. Healthline.com