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393 of 406 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dance with Madness
William Styron is perhaps best known for his bestselling novel, Sophie's Choice, which was converted to screenplay and released as an Academy award-winning motion picture starring Meryl Streep. Many critics acknowledged Styron's seemingly natural ability to evoke a sense of bitter, submerged despair through subtle understatement. The reviewers who lauded his work had no...
Published on December 2, 2004 by Christopher Largen

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I can relate to some symptoms but that's about it.......
One thing that i am fairly certain about after reading this book is that the causes, symptoms and experiences of depression are an individual thing . Sure there are some similarities in the symptoms, but I am not going to marvel at this book because I saw a tiny piece of myself in there. I also think that depression was perhaps romanticised a bit here as something that...
Published on October 3, 1999


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best discription of madness I've read., November 7, 1999
By 
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
As a chronically depresses person, I find it very difficult to explain how the mental pain feels. Most books about depression are written by doctors and are very clinical in nature. DARKNESS VISIBLE is a first hand tale of the pains of depression. I wish I could express the feeling as William Styron has.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful description of the horror of clinical depression., November 2, 1999
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
Having experienced clinical depression more than once in my life, I am absolutely in amazement at how accurately Styron describes the experience. In describing something that even he admits is almost beyond the descriptive power of words, he's done a masterful job. This book should be required reading for anyone who has a friend or loved one suffering from depression, and has never themself been able to understand what it's all about. Finally, people who have never experienced this horror can get at least a glimpse of what it is like from a truly gifted writer.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable account of a near-fatal illness., January 25, 2005
By 
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
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In the summer of 1985, novelist William Styron was overcome with severe clinical depression - a disease that, untreated, has a fatality rate of around 20%. Mr. Styron recovered (unlike Vincent van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, and millions of others) and recounts the course of his illness in this short book.

Mr. Styron's account will be familiar to other victims of depression ("unipolar disorder" in current medspeak) - the denial that one really has a problem, the self-loathing, the disheartening difficulty in getting competent professional help, the agonizing wait to see if this drug is going to work, the patronizing and/or thinly-veiled contempt of family and friends -- all will be sorely familiar. This is the best literary account of depression that I have read.

I'm not sure how the book will read to the non-afflicted. My wife liked it, and remarked on similarities when I was at my worst. Some previous reviews, such as Andrew Ferguson's in the Wall Street Journal , border on the vicious:

[Mr. Styron's disease] moved him to pen this infinitely detailed inventory of his emotions, sell it to a large publishing house, ... and preen for hack photographers from People magazine... [Mr. Styron] would prefer to wallow in his self-esteem deficiencies and write books that earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. There's just no pleasing some people.

This remarkable review seems akin to mocking a recovered cancer or heart-attack victim for surviving and then having the temerity to talk about it.

Highly recommended for depressives, their families and loved ones.

Review copyright © 1991 Peter D. Tillman
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forever Grateful, January 15, 2001
By 
Literatelilly (Mid-Hudson Valley, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
Ever since I first read DARKNESS VISIBLE ten years, after my second hospitalization for depression, I have tried to write to William Styron to thank him for putting my life and confusion into words. While depression still returns from time to time, I never have felt as alone as I did before I read this book.

The book is also helpful in educating people about mental illness. When a famous and respected person, like William Styron, has the courage to write about his own battle with depression, a subject that is often seen as self-indungence and discussed in hushed tones, he gives credence to the condition's being a disease, not a lack of self-control. Depression is less of a stigma than it was 10 years ago and part of that change is due to William Styron and DARKNESS VISIBLE
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope and despair, February 26, 2005
By 
David B. Thompson (Carson City, Nevada USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
A couple of years ago, I learned that I suffer from depression. It was a major eye-opener and explained a lot of my behavior over the 50+ years of my life. I've begun reading more about the disease over the last few months and this monogram came to my atttention through my wife, who also reads.

As I read through the first part of Styron's story, I was petrified. His descriptions of his feelings so mirrored my own experience. The words were penetrating and his writing is precise when he describes his experience. I did not know if I could finish the book because of this.

But, I perservered because I knew that he must have made it through the cycle of depression. After all, he lived to write the book. I'm glad I finished reading it. He tells the story with passion and clarity and I appreciate his candor.

I finished the book with a mixture of hope and disappointment. Hope because if he made it through his depression, I might very well make it through my own; disappointment because he found no cure and I may not either. All in all, I highly recommend this book for those who need to know about the disease, whether because they experience it directly or because a loved one is depressed. There is insight in it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkness Visible, only by the light of day, September 27, 2007
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
Having suffered with, what is now called Rapid Cycling BiPolar I since my earliest memories, the depths of darkness and pain that Mr. Styron so eloquently conveys was something I had not found in another until the reading of this book. I have felt it in his novels and in those of many other writers. I have sensed it in film makers not knowing their particular experience. Birds of a feather I suppose. However reading his own very personal internal experience transported me to a place of strange kindred perception. Not having known the man himself, his expression of that void - that place that transcends flesh, ego, personality, separateness - provided a comfort thus far elusive. Being there, one is alone, and one is reminded of how alone we all are, thereby rendering death a place void of fear. The only existing emotion is pain, excruciating yes, avoidable never. He creates a haven for those of us unfortunate, or fortunate, enough to experience this place. From it springs an understanding one cannot vocalize, yet Styron manages to convey it through the rich, textural and intimate development of his characters. It is an understanding that transcends traditional learning and plummets to depths of what it is to be human, to be alive as two people, one within and one without. His ability to remove and don the mask and his inability to do so gave him the most valuable insight one can have into the nature of being, and not being. A brilliant writer; his pain, a gift of understanding, and his gift to us, to write that pain with such an eloquence that it can transport the reader into the souls of the people to whom he penned flesh and blood.

This is a crucial read for not only for we who know this place, but also for those who love us and exist with us side by side. Their pain, though it cannot comprehend our own, is as exquisite and "real" as our own. It is not only we who need to be understood, but also those who love us. Thank you Rose, for standing next to him, with him. Your gifts to him are also gifts to us all. You are as courageous as he.

With much Gratitude and Respect,
Kristina
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping Others Understand the Affliction Called Depression, November 14, 2005
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
It's incredibly difficult to convey what it's like to suffer with depression, particularly when you are in the midst of enduring the illness. Mr. Styron does an incredible job of describing the experience. I often found myself wishing that I had the ability to use language as proficiently as he does, especially when it comes to trying to explain what depression is, that it is a disease in the same sense as cancer or diabetes, and how completely devastating it is in every aspect of one's life---particularly when the disease is in its most difficult phases. (The World Health Organization says that depression is THE number one cause of disability throughout the world.)

I HIGHLY recommend this book to those who have someone they know and/or love who is struggling with this disease. Reading this book and striving to understand as much as possible about depression is one of the most loving acts one can perform for those who are afflicted. I also recommend it to those who have endured, or are enduring, depression as it will provide a sense of camaraderie and understanding that is rare to encounter as a patient.

If depression was recognized as the disease and scourge that it is, we would have a national alarm raised, Congressional committees examining the disease, its effects, and available treatments, celebrities would band together to raise money for research, and victims would NOT be told that they lack moral fiber or some other hurtful nonsense because they have the vast misfortune of being struck down by depression. This book explains why.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I can relate to some symptoms but that's about it......., October 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
One thing that i am fairly certain about after reading this book is that the causes, symptoms and experiences of depression are an individual thing . Sure there are some similarities in the symptoms, but I am not going to marvel at this book because I saw a tiny piece of myself in there. I also think that depression was perhaps romanticised a bit here as something that only happens to artists or highly creative people. This doesn't help me (an accountant) or millions of other average Joe's out there in the 'burbs struggling with depression. I understand fully that the Author is only drawing on his own experiences here and as an artist himself it is obviously something that assists him in understanding his own illness but to critically acclaim this book as something that is a must read for people with depression is simply not true. One thing that surprises me is that the Author speaks of his abuse of alcohol for years, his sudden intolerance and abstinence and the thinking that the onset of his deep depression was a result of his security blanket (alcohol) being taken away. What about the impact of all those years of drinking ? What effect has this had on his brain ? Could this be the cause of the scrambling of his mind ? I am starting to believe that alcohol is one of the major catalysts for my experiences with depression ( I am not an alcoholic). Perhaps those of us who do suffer are just that bit closer to the edge than all of those "normal" people out there and maybe alcohol can push us over ??????
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William Styron's personal story=right on mark!! 5++++, July 4, 2001
By 
KAAREN H (TUCSON, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
with all of the "self-help" and "how-to" books out there on major clinical depression, this one, to me, was in a category all its own. i have seen and read several of the other books about depression - just trying to find some connection. i felt no connection because i believe several were written by people never having to deal with this disabling disease. i would read "darkness visable" and think "hey i feel like that too sometimes, i am not the only one out there that does". i felt it,(the book), explained how "i" felt (w/depression) so accurate that over the years i have purchased several copies and have givin them to family and friends i know, and told them "ok THIS is how i feel". for friends of mine who also had depression problems i would buy them the book, tell them to read it, and get back to me because i wanted to know what they thought. sure enough, they felt the same way or very close to the same way i did. it was like a burden lifted off of all of our shoulders. i don't want to get into the book because everyone should read it that battles depression or someone who is trying to understand someone who is battling depression. i can't begin to tell you, it was the start in understanding who i was, accepting myself, and trying not to feel shame about about something i was born with. if i could ever help someone i would do my best. this book changed my life and i read it 10 years or more ago. :) :) thanks W.S.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, Accurate And Chilling, November 21, 2006
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This review is from: Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (Paperback)
William Styron's "Darkness Visible" is a masterpiece of observation of the human spirits decline into depression (madness). Few authors have ever so deftly and succinctly described the feelings, fear or hopelessness that surrounds this disease. Stryon makes several references to other famous literary giants and constantly wonders if he too, is destined to defeat by this monster melancholia. Is this disease more prevalent among the artists or do they simply have the tools to portray the insidiousness of its wake? Stryon's allegories and sparse use of extremely descriptive verbiage come as close to describing the experience of depression as one could ever imagine. Noted for his great novel, "Sophie's Choice", Stryon continues here with a piece of work that demands reading by anyone possessing love of the human spirit. It's a masterpiece.
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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron (Paperback - January 8, 1992)
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