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Is There No Place on Earth for Me? Paperback – May 12, 1983


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (May 12, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394713788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394713786
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The classic case study of schizophrenia that set the stage for reform. . . . Its insight, compassion, and humanity have much to teach us." —Andrew Solomon 

"Compelling, mordantly funny. . . . [A] beautifully written chronicle." —The New York Times 

"A brilliantly documented chronicle of a young woman's long struggle with schizophrenia." —The New Republic

"Susan Sheehan has committed an extraordinary act of journalism. . . . She brings relentless intelligent attention to bear on a particular case, a journalistic practice that almost always results in new and disturbing insights into those mindless generalities and prejudice and certitudes we tend to carry around with us." —The Washington Post Book World

"Sheehan is tenacious, observant and unsentimental. The history of a single patient leads us into a maze of understaffed institutions, bureaucratic fumbling, trial-and-error treatment and familial incomprehension. Though Sheehan keeps herself invisible, her sympathy is palpable." —Newsweek

"[A] monumental piece of reportage. . . . A model of close-up journalism: totally convincing, unsentimental yet obviously compassionate, rigorously plain." —Kirkus Reviews

From the Inside Flap

" A brilliantly documented chronicle of young woman's long struggle with schizophrenia."

-- Willard Gaylin, The New Republic

"Sylvia Frumkin," highly intelligent young girl, became a schizophrenic in her late teens and spent most of the next seventeen years in anti out of mental institutions. Susan Sheehan, a talented reporter followed "Sylvia" for almost a year talking with and observing her listening to her monologues, sitting in on consultations with doctors, even for a period sleeping in the bed next to her in a mental hospital.

"Susan Sheehan has committed an extraordinary act of journalism....She brings relentless intelligent attention to bear on a particular case, a journalistic practice that almost always results in new and disturbing insights into those mindless generalities and prejudice and certitudes we tend to carry around with us." -- Meg Greenfield, front page Washington Post Book World

"Sheehan is tenacious, observant and unsentimental. The history of a single patient leads us into a maze of understaffed institutions, bureaucratic fumbling, trial-and-error treatment and familial incomprehension. Though Sheehan keeps herself invisible, her sympathy is palpable."

-- Walter Clemons, Newsweek

By the author of Lift for Me Ain't Been No Crystal Stair

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Customer Reviews

Read this to really know what goes on with mentally ill in our country.
Sue
Sheehan at one point, even slept in the bed next to her character in the mental institution.
Patti None
This is the one of the most heart-rending books I've read (and re-read).
Sgw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Patti None on December 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
"Is There No Place on Earth For Me" is a telling tale of the life of a Schizophrenic. Sheehan goes inside the mind of the character to explore the inner workings and provide detailed accounts of what life is like for someone suffering with Schizophrenia and the hell their life can become. Sheehan at one point, even slept in the bed next to her character in the mental institution. This act assures not only a detailed account, but also an accurate one. Sheehan reinforces the old saying...Don't knock Charlie till you walked a mile in his shoes! This book takes you through many miles in a Schizophrenics shoes. It extricates vivid details of the inner mind and its workings. This is a book you will never forget. After reading this story, you will never look at mental illness in the same light again.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
One way mental illness could be described is multi faceted. Like a prism, the mind refracts information (as a prism does light) into distorted processes during an active phase of psychosis. One can almost imagine the many facets of this illness as it is so individual; "Sylvia Frumkin's" chronic battle with psychosis is told with a touch of humor.
The author follows this actively psychotic woman for a 17 year time frame. Sylvia's first onset with the illness took place in 1964. Mentally distorted and confused, Sylvia's life is spent in and out of hospitals and treatment centers.
As devasting and tragic as mental illness is, the author injects notes of levity into some of Sylvia's more outlandish behavior. This softens the stark reality of Sylvia's illness and offers a lighter side to a very dark illness. It is hard not to smile when Sylvia declares herself to be Paul McCartney's wife. It is also hard not to smile when Sylvia explains in great detail why her delusions are justified and grounded. The incongruity of reality and Sylvia's delusions provide an almost light touch of ironic contrast. This tone is very effective in presenting Sylvia in a very humane and sympathetic light. It also helps readers (and hopefully others) feel affection for, and hope for the "Sylvias" who need a chance and people who genuinely care about them.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Wright on April 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
Reading this book is like watching a train wreck in progress. You can't take your eyes off of it because you want to know how it all works out. When I was putting together a course on psychology in literature a friend gave me this book but made me promise to return it because it was a favorite of hers. After reading it, I can understand why. The author does a fantastic (although disturbing) job of describing the life of a woman with schizophrenia while also discussing the impact that the woman's illness has on her family. While reading the book the reader often begins to feel the anxiety and frustration experienced by Sylvia, a woman with schizophrenia, and her family, and can see in their mind's eye how the disease unfolds and engulfs their lives.

This is a great text for a student of psychology who is interested in descriptions of the disease and also of historical (1970s) views of the mental health system. It would also be helpful for the family members of a person diagnosed with schizophrenia to read so that they can have a greater understanding of the life of a person affected by the disorder.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "elljay" on April 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
A Pulitzer Prize-winner for General Nonfiction, this is an account of the tragic life of one "Sylvia Frumkin" (a fictitious name), who succumbed to schizophrenia while still an adolescent and spent the next two decades in and out of mental hospitals.
The author (who lived with Frumkin for a time) never appears "on stage" in the book, and restricts herself to just-the-facts third-person narration. A certain moral outrage is evident nonetheless. The mental health industry does not come off well at all (Frumkin's institution is unfavorably compared to the one depicted in "One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest"). It's difficult not to come away with the impression that a little less bureaucratic negligence might have saved Miss Frumkin many wasted years. Fortunately, this is not a one-sided screed (not quite, anyhow): some of these medics and bureaucrats are just doing the best they can with the limited resources on hand.
The prose style is plain and straightforward--maybe a little flat-footed, too. But overall, the book is a good example of how facts can speak for themselves.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christian Engler on July 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
If the investigative reporter Nellie Bly were still alive, she probably would have declared Susan Sheehan to be her comrade-in-arms, journalistically speaking, at least, for so eye-opening is this book, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1983 in the nonfiction category, that one can't help but somehow feel indirectly involved in this true story in regards to time, place and manner.

By chronicling the schizophrenic oddesy of a single patient, "Sylvia Frumkin", a pseudonym, Susan Sheehan has performed an intimate piece of extraordinary journalism, whereby she brings the reader into the frightening and oftentimes misunderstood world of those possessed by mental illness. With compassionate, intellectual and keen, almost anthropological observation, Sheehan weaves through the blurred and confusing healthcare bureaucracy which "Sylvia Frumkin" and her family incrementally find themselves trying to navigate. Coupled with psychiatric doctors who seem tartly bent on competing against each other in regards to what drug perscriptions are best (and there is a flurry of them), a frazzled family who is so thinly glued together that a feather could crack them apart and "Sylvia Frumkin" herself, whose fragile mental health goes up and down faster than a blinking eye, a reader would want to toss the book aside simply because of the consistent up and down emotional tolls that are flatly patterned in each passing chapter. Yet, as each chapter occurs, it also provides a clean slate and or a new beginning where the illness can be kept at bay and "Sylvia Frumkin" can finally have the good normal life that she deserves. However, it is the rare bouts of normalcy that are fleeting and therein is where the loss of hope and frustration lie.
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