Jaded selves and body distance: a case study of Cotard’s syndrome in “Infinite Jest”

Ana Chapman


This article attempts to betoken the relevance of emotions and sensations arousing from the body for the reviving of the self in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. The novel discerns a world where the oversaturation of choices and the external stimuli from entertainment has established a tradition of ennui and addiction as part of the hedonistic search for pleasure. This is particularly important for the understanding of the effects it may have on the mapping of the self and on agency which can consequently be framed among mental disorders. Taking a neuroscientific approach, Wallace’s characters is discussed as having a possible connection to Cotard’s syndrome. This delusion helps to reveal how a lack of emotions disables correct self-awareness giving way to the belief that one may be dead or non-existent.


Agency; embodiment; David Foster Wallace; self-awareness; addiction; cognitive literaturae; novel; addiction; contemporary literature.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.3953

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