The vast majority of theses in this collection are open access and freely available. There are a small number of theses that have access restricted to the WWU campus. For off-campus access to a thesis labeled "Campus Only Access," please log in here with your WWU universal ID, or talk to your librarian about requesting the restricted thesis through interlibrary loan.

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Trueblood, Kathryn R., 1960-

Second Advisor

Dietrich, Dawn Y., 1960-

Third Advisor

Vulić, Kathryn R., 1972-


The non-fiction collection, Try Not to Worry, follows the Wolf family through the mental and physical decline of Alex Wolf, the family's third child. As Alex enters adolescence, he struggles increasingly with clinical anxiety, made worse by his perception of himself as inadequate. The third of four children, and the second son, he feels himself to be an appendage to what could be a complete family unit without his presence. Alex's troubles are seen only through others' eyes. His parents surprisingly are not given an essential role in Try Not to Worry. Even as they seek to solve Alex's problems through therapy and intervention, in his point of view they seem to disappear. Rachel, the eldest child, feels increasingly pulled back to the family circle even as she attempts to find her adult identity. Evan, the second child, empathizes with Alex's feelings of anxiety, an emotional investment that prevents Evan from leaving home, and Bridget, the youngest child, is left to quietly rebel against rules that no one has remembered to set for her. Try Not to Worry is the story of a family whose only defense against loss is to hold on to each other as tightly as possible, which is not always a good idea. Try Not to Worry's companion piece, The People Pictured Here, is a fictional imagining of a family much like the Wolfs, but years farther along in their construction of an interdependent family dynamic. The Barlowe siblings are physically adults, yet their reliance on each other for affection, affirmation, and guidance holds them in a suspended state of emotional adolescence. The People Pictured Here revolves around Dominick Barlowe, who is locked in an unsettling intimacy with his sister Trisha, and her best friend Angela. Their triangle is physically manifested when Angela becomes pregnant with Dominick's child, and all three adults must decide what role they will play in the child's life. Macy and Christopher Barlowe, the eldest Barlowe siblings, watch the actions of Dominick and Trisha with both amusement and trepidation, understanding that their siblings' lack of boundaries reflects Macy and Christopher's own unhealthy dependence. Both Try Not to Worry and The People Pictured Here present families that are ensnared in patterns of emotional incest, in which loyalty and concern for each other often means self-neglect. The characters in these two pieces must ultimately decide how, and if, they can break away from their tangled family webs. Separation may be successful or disastrous, yet the siblings in these works are all traveling towards a time when severing their ties to each other will be the only way they can grow up.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Families of the mentally ill--Personal narratives




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.