It is so fascinating how the lure of the facade of the narcissistic family is so strong that it sucked in as big a fan as Maria! Her read on DFW's (very private) investigation under the surface of his achiever family as a brainwashed, misguided, embarrassing mistake, totally out of character, and as selling out his mom--wow! This brilliant guy, with major experience in the emotional transformation of recovery, was also publicly very polite (good table manners I'm sure an understatement) and so deeply tied to his public interactions portraying himself as this well behaved good son type. This kind of investigation and acceptance of truth of the hidden traumas of a narcissistic family (it is pretty textbook, actually) would have been very private for a "good son" achiever and something that only a great deal of pain would have led him into. It would have taken so much reading and review to really grasp the narcissistic truth under the facade and use that truth to start to unravel the depression. It probably feels shaky to assume DFW was just deluded & kinda dumb& cheesy in pursuing this path? Because he was so not dumb or cheesy!!And because it was not a deluded thing to do. His search into the horrible damage of a publicly acceptable but privately narcissistic family makes total sense. I love his recovery writing the most of all of it, and this search into hidden narcissism's tragic effects is in that vein. His missteps in life and as a writer were in avoiding the emotional stuff, the "cheesy" stuff, and his greatest work was in venturing there, away from the brainiac, risk- less, showy white man stale male Yale hipster writing. Anyone thinking that him questioning his mother & family is somehow a mild brainwashing or at great odds with his genius should feel alarmed.