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The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness Hardcover – August 14, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
When she was a teenager, Saks experimented briefly with drugs, and this brought on more unpleasant symptoms. Things deteriorated further when she entered Vanderbilt University, where "schizophrenia [rolled] in like a slow fog," and she began to neglect her personal hygiene, forgetting to bathe and change her clothes. As a college freshman, she miraculously earned top grades while she struggled to keep her hallucinations at bay. Her "illness was beginning to poke through the shell" that helped her separate fantasy from reality. As long as the shell was intact, she could fool the world. When the shell broke down, so did she.
In "The Center Cannot Hold," Saks describes a see-saw existence in which she excelled at her studies while trying to keep her mental illness from disabling her.Read more ›
This is a book about living with schizophrenia, and it is a great book, remarkable in many respects.
Elyn Saks, endowed professor at USC's Gould School of Law, has written a gripping memoir of a life spent grappling with and eventually coming to terms with this disease.
Here's her description of what she was up against, "Schizophrenia rolls in like a slow fog, becoming imperceptively thicker as time goes on. At first, the day is bright enough, the sky is clear, the sunlight warms your shoulders. But soon, you notice a haze beginning to gather around you, and the air feels not quite so warm. After a while, the sun is a dim light bulb behind a heavy cloth. The horizon has vanished into a grey mist, and you feel a thick dampness in your lungs as you stand, cold and wet, in the afternoon dark."
Or said another way, "Consciousness gradually loses its coherence. One's center gives way. The center cannot hold. The "me" becomes a haze, and the solid center from which one experiences reality breaks up like a bad radio signal. There is no longer a sturdy vantage point from which to look out, take things in, assess what's happening. No core holds things together, providing the lens through which to see the world, to make judgments and comprehend risk".
The juxtaposition of the uncanny on the mundane is stark and arresting.Read more ›
Saks will never be "that schizophrenic with a job," and she has made a fantastic contribution for the psychiatry community, for patients suffering from social stigma, for anyone who interacts with those who have a diagnosed psychological disorder, and for fans of memoirs. Saks writes candidly about the workings of her mind, which made her such a success in philosophy, law, and psychology, but which also crippled her with delusions and hallucinations. She had a formative experience at a 1970's drug rehab camp (after a minor indiscretion with marijuana) which taught her that drugs were bad and any obstacle could be overcome with sheer force of will. For a schizophrenic, of course, medicine is an absolute necessity, and the disorder can not be overcome with will. Nevertheless, Saks spent decades trying to do just that, fighting her doctor's prescriptions at every turn, secretly reducing her dosages, until finally settling into her career in California with a low dosage of modern medicine and on-going talk therapy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great condition. This book has changed my perspective on individuals that have psychological disorders. Read morePublished 20 hours ago by Emily Cheshire
I'm a pharmacy student, and reading this book really helped me understand what it's been like historically for people with mental disorders. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Abby
a memoire about a woman with schizophrenia who goes through some very difficult times, no surprise, but comes out on the other end as a very functional person, a big surprise. Read morePublished 4 days ago by ellen foster
One of the most fascinating books I've ever read! The author delves so deeply into her own psychotic ramblings and her journey through hospitalizations, psychotherapy and the... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Ed Slater
This book will open your mind to the world of mental illness.Published 1 month ago by janet christison
A brilliant look into the experience of schizophrenia. Saks has profound words for what she went through and it is also a story of hope. I admire her courage and strength.Published 1 month ago by Kristin Gabaldon
a must read for all schizophrenic individuals who wants so survive early adulthood.. very inspiring words from Mr. Saks! Good job!Published 2 months ago by John Walker
I bought this book to help me understand what a person goes through who has schizophrenia. It was an eye opener to prepare me for psychology portion of my nursing class, and an... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Susan Luttman
The book started off a little slow to me but overall it was a good read. I liked that she shares her story and determination not to let the disease completely take over her. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Princess