In her vehement article, The C Word in the Hallway, Anna Quindlen addresses and exploits the issue of mental health in children and the ignorance that trails behind it. Quindlen utilizes pathos and ethos as well as multiple accounts of extended metaphors and repetition in order to urge parents, caregivers, and even teenagers to stop undermining the extremities of mental health and to start acknowledging it as a treatable illness. Her use of explicit and straightforward diction and criticism evokes a disappointed and indignant tone, essentially placing the blame on naïve parents.
Quindlen commences her article with, “The saddest phrase I’ve read in a long time is this one: psychological autopsy.” Considering that her work was published in the Newsweek and she is well known for her columns and commentary in The New York Times, this statement alone elicits an emotional response from her audience and aids in her attempt to build credibility. For Quindlen to undoubtedly state that out of all her years of writing and observing, this statement is the most upsetting that she’s heard, carries a lot of weight. Quindlen uses this statement to strengthen her claim that mental health is not being taken as seriously as it should be. The doctors that are trained to find these issues in children simply shrug it off and perform psychological autopsies for suicides or homicides that, with proper treatment, could have been prevented. As Quindlen says “it has become commonplace to have…murder suspects with acne problems” she has a demeaning tone that has now guilted her audience into realizing how normal and nonchalantly mental health is treated at home, and at school and calling on them to actively change that.
To stress the heartbreaking reality of this issue, Quindlen shifts to real life examples where mental health was neglected and produced appalling results. By including the accounts of the killings performed by Sam Manzie and Kip Kinkel, she substantially wants her audience to recognize that these children shouldn’t be held accountable for the crimes they committed. Quindlen believes that Manzie and Kinkel were not the perpetrators, but the victims, simply because of untreated psychological issues. No parent wants to be the reason why their child is killing and hurting others, especially at such a young age. She includes these accounts of Manzie and Kinkel in order to appeal emotionally to her audience by instilling fear on them. In her article, Quindlen deliberately mentions that both children did receive psychological evaluations before their misdeeds, however due to their parents’ insensitivity, their issues were not treated. By including this, Quindlen reiterates the need for parents to truly accept that mental health is necessary for children to be sane. Quindlen brings awareness to the relevancy of this topic and the common “excuses, excuses” that is said following the mention of mental health in association with homicides and mass shootings. Her candid tone justifies that mental health is not used as an excuse, but as an underrated condition that could develop into one’s demise.
Towards the end of her editorial, Quindlen provides her audience with an extended metaphor that truly ties her ideas together; comparing treatment to those who are emotionally disturbed to immunization for babies.