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Operators and things: The inner life of a schizophrenic Hardcover – 1975


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 166 pages
  • Publisher: A. S. Barnes (1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0498016641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0498016646
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,109,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Barbara O'Brien is a pseudonym for a woman who experienced a six-month psychotic break during the 1950s and wrote about it in Operators and Things, originally published in 1958. She was last heard from in 1976, when she wrote a new chapter entitled "The New Minority" for a paperback edition of the book. At the time, her author's biography read: "Barbara O'Brien is now fully recovered and lives outside Los Angeles, California."

Michael Maccoby, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and anthropologist globally recognized as an expert on leadership for his research, writing, and projects to improve organizations and work. He has authored or co-authored twelve books and consulted to companies, governments, the World Bank, unions, research and development centers and laboratories, universities, and orphanages in twenty-six countries. He lives in Washington, DC.

COLLEEN DELEGAN's first life was an advertising creative director. Her second life is a screenwriter, novelist, and television writer. She is hoping for a third and final life as a wealthy nomad. She currently lives in Chicago.

MELANIE VILLINES is a critically acclaimed novelist, playwright, screenwriter, television writer, and biographer. Born and raised in Chicago, she lives in Los Angeles.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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I read this book at least 30 years ago, when I was a teenager.
ch
Possibly, she has provided a peek at a deeper reality than most of us even imagine exists.
Allen I. Branson
I found this book to be quite creepy yet so incredible an account.
ZSky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Jef A. S. Gooding on August 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This easily gets into my top 5 books list - maybe number 1 because it's so under-rated (or maybe un-rated because so few people have heard of it). Barbara O' Brien doesn't seem to have written another book, which is a shame - maybe she's dead, maybe she's mentally incapable, maybe she has nothing else to say.
The book chronicles her descent into madness (and atypically her rapid ascent out of it). It starts with some background to her breakdown - the oppressive office environment she worked in. This section in itself is fascinating. Here she highlights all the underhand manoeuvrings her managers and colleagues operate to advance their careers - more than a touch of Machiavelli.
The rest of the book chronicles her travels around America whilst under the control of the voices in her head. I'm guessing sufferers of Schizophrenia don't usually have such an entertaining (for the reader) journey they could form into such a clear narrative - i'd assume memories would be more disjointed (if remembered at all). I like to think she hasn't embellished the story much - at times, the sheer terror she describes mark it as both unique and authentic.
This book works both as a work of fiction (with the imaginary characters in her head coming to life on the page) and an educational introduction to mental illness. However, instead of the dry facts and neurological features you would find in a text book you get to feel empathy: a true sense of the confusion and un/ultra-reality many of us are lucky enough to never experience.
This book has been out of print for a while. Searching the internet indicates it's fans are legion (and passionate) and it commands absurd prices second hand. About time for a reprint I would say. Barbara O Brien herself is an enigma/unknown. Anyone with any opinions or info please add a review.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book reads like a piece of exciting fiction but it is supposedly based upon the real-life experiences of a young professional woman in the uptight, male-dominated business world of the late 1950's who wakes one day to find herself the pawn of invisible entities, the "Operators," who control and influence humans, or "things," like puppets. Before long she has developed into a full-blown scizophrenic, though one who retains a certain amount of self-control. At the urging of a group of "operators" who claim to be looking out for her best interests, she takes off across the country on a journey of self-discovery, all the while hounded by various entities and psychic forces. I wasn't exaggerating when I said it reads like a piece of fiction, this book beats most of the fiction of its day, not to mention our day, in the imagination department. Not only that, it features a strong-willed female heroine who reclaims her self-determination without the aid of men, unless you count the male entites she encounters. Eventually, she finds herself on the west coast and reaches a state of personal revelation & healing, curing herself of her scizophrenia. A real-life Cuckooo's Nest, this book still reads well today and would make a great movie due to its strong central character and several evokative, chilling scenes that seem torn straight out of a David Lynch film. READ THIS BOOK!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Allen I. Branson on November 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have to admit that at first I found the world of someone who is schizophrenic almost beyond strange. I wondered what this book would have to offer beyond sating a bit of my curiosity about what it is like to be so afflicted.

Then, as I read, it dawned on me. She was describing the very same world you and I inhabit, but from a radically different perspective. Perhaps all the characters that move through her story were made up, only symbols of something else. Yet, their interactions are so accurate in terms of much of "normal" human interaction, I had to wonder.

I would wholeheartedly recommend reading this book. Read it for the insight you'll gain into how the world really works. Possibly, she has provided a peek at a deeper reality than most of us even imagine exists. Are there "operators" controlling the "things" of the world. Sounds outlandish at first blush, but I think you'll find that much of what she describes in the book seems strangely familiar to you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Booya! Werewolves! on August 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't say enough good things about this book. Its one of the best most entertaining and thought provoking books I've ever read. It's simply amazing reading on how the shadowy figures in her head took the helm of her life, while she does little more than go along for the ride, and not only do they manage to keep her from harm but the experience leaves her clearly in a better place than where she was, and as a stronger person, albeit down some amount of thousands of dollars.

Just to read it as a pure novel it would be brilliant, perhaps even more brilliant if it were just a novel, but to imagine that this really happened to someone, it's really fascinating.

I know a lot of people would balk at paying 20+ dollars for a thin paperback, but do yourself a favor, and pick this one up. I can almost guarantee you will not regret it.

Its a book begging to be made into a film if I ever read one.
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