The Collected Schizophrenias – a book of essays that functions as a memoir, by a person suffering a mild form of schizophrenia – is both wonderful and terrible. Is this what sublime means?
The writing is beautiful and detailed, though be forewarned that the first essay about the DSM-IV and its history might only be interesting if you’re into the ins and outs of psychological politics. The other essays capture:
- what it’s like to have hallucinations;
- what it’s like to have Cotard’s Delusion, which is being absolutely convinced that you’re dead;
- the oddness of trying to convince your doctor that you’re sane when you’ve been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital;
- how society (read: Yale) treats you when you’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia (spoiler alert: not well).
I am a person who always develops a certain amount of empathy for the main character in whatever I’m reading. That meant feeling not entirely well whilst reading this book. My teenager kept asking me if I was all right. I decided to plow through as fast as I could so as to be in this mindset as briefly as possible. Reading the whole book was necessary – putting it down was never an option.
The Collected Schizophrenias was vital to me. Highly recommended.