Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts


Kiera Duggan 

A History of Multiple Sclerosis

The Search for Self in the Fantasy Worlds of Keith Donohue

In Keith Donohue’s fantasy novels, The Stolen Child, Angels of Destruction, The Boy Who Drew Monsters, and Centuries of June,the central characters long to develop an identity that is shaped by who they want to be rather than by the environments in which they are raised. Keith Donohue develops a realm of fantasy in each of his novelsthat entraps his protagonists, resulting in their futile longing for control over their own identities. For instance, in The Stolen Child, the protagonist seven-year-old Henry Day runs away from home one day and is kidnapped by an unaging group of wild children called changelings. In his place, the changelings leave a double, a boy who steals Henry’s life. This new “Henry” must adjust to the modern world while masking his true identity from the Day family. Henry and his replacement both obsessively search to find themselves and who they were before they switched places in the world. Ultimately, Henry realizes his stolen childhood has left him to grow up and find his own sense of identity in a new life, though he never truly feels secure within himself.

Just as the characters of Donohue’s novels struggle to develop their identity, the identification and understanding of multiple sclerosis developed out of a struggle over a long period of trial and error, with scientists slowly uncovering new information, piece by piece. The history of multiple sclerosis wasan investigative story extending over a century. In the nineteenth century scientists began learning that bacteria caused many diseases, which helped to differentiate multiple sclerosis into its own disease category. This paved the way for twentieth century discoveries of additional viruses, organisms, and new ways of studying bacteria in the laboratory. These key discoveries and the evolving understanding of multiple sclerosisin the nineteenth and twentieth centuries increased awareness of the disease, and informed pharmaceutical advances, while also expanding international research to uncover further knowledge about the disease.

Major Works Consulted:

Compston, Alastair. “The Story of Multiple Sclerosis.”Direct MS. 2010. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.
Donohue, Keith. Angels of Destruction. New York: Shaye Areheart, 2009.
---.The Stolen Child. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2006. Talley, Colin. A Humbling History of Multiple Sclerosis.New York: Praegers, 2008.
Photo Credit: Lowe, Matt R. “Keith Donohue.” The Morton Report. TMR, 14 Sept. 2013. Feb-March. 2016.