The Development of Mark O’Brien’s Romantic and Sexual Life: Memoir Analysis


This essay explores Mark O’Brien’s sexual and romantic development in his autobiography How I Became a Human Being. I will use Tobin Siebers’ theory of disability to shed light on how O’brien’s disability affected his sexual and romantic life in order to explore this subject effectively. I will also pinpoint and talk about his sex and romantic feelings. Last but not least, I’ll talk about his difficulties when exploring his sexuality as a disabled man.

How O’Brien’s Sexual and Romantic Life Has Evolved

After contracting polio at age six, O’Brien became disabled. The illness paralyzed him, and he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He also needed to breathe through an iron lung. O’Brien has always been terrified of his sexuality. No one close to him ever brought up or talked about sex with him, according to what he claims in his memoir (O’Brien, 34). His parents were against all forms of sexuality. He adopts the perspective that no one should ever consider having sex. As a result, he develops a strong aversion to sex and sexuality. Nevertheless, he occasionally has moments of sexual gratification while taking a bath in bed because he is a human. He feels ashamed and guilty as a result of these sexually aroused feelings. He is embarrassed to admit to experiencing orgasms, so he avoids talking about them with his companions.

O’Brien is still a virgin in his thirties as he progresses through childhood, adolescence, and eventually adulthood. This results from his intense internal fear and shame related to his sexuality. He believes that having sexual desires is a sin and that they should be avoided. O’Brien is adamant, even though many of his friends have already begun to explore their sexuality. He finally realizes that the only differences between him and his friends exploring their sexuality are the…

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