The short story “iAnna” by Will Self features three active characters: Dr Shiva Mukti, Dr Zack Busner, and patient Anna Richardson. Because Anna suffers from a form of schizophrenia and the other two characters treat her as an object of scientific study, she is more relevant for the social setting and for the way the two doctors relate to her. Consequently, in this part of the study guide, we will only focus on the characterisation of the doc…


Dr Shiva Mukti

Dr Shiva Mukti is one of the main characters in the short story. His name suggests that he might be of Indian descent, as Shiva is a well-known Indian God. Shiva is known as both the God of destruction and creation. As a result, the choice of name might be symbolic of the destruction of modern society and the creation of the postmodern society that is starting to emerge with people using all sorts of digital technologies.

His outer characterisation tells us that he is a young psychiatrist and offers us a brief physical portrait: “Mukti was a tannish, goatishly good-lookin…


Dr Zack Busner

Dr Zack Busner is the second main character in the short story, who is often in opposition to his younger colleague Mukti.

Busner’s outer characterisation informs us that he is a retired psychiatrist who is probably a bit overweight as the reference to “his sweat-slicked tumulus of a belly” (ll. 9-10) indicates.

Inner characterisation

As with Mukti, Busner’s inner characterisation is also conveyed through speech, actions, and attitude.

When he receives the call from Dr Mukti about an interesting patient he tries to refuse him, but he is hooked by the idea that there might be a similar pattern in other patients: “…For heaven's sake man, I'm retired, I don't want to examine your patient no matter how novel her symptoms may be… What's that? Not the first, you say – something of an emerging patt…

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