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The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness Hardcover – August 14, 2007
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Elyn R. Saks is an esteemed professor, lawyer, and psychiatrist and is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry, and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Law School, yet she has suffered from schizophrenia for most of her life, and still has ongoing major episodes of the illness.
The Center Cannot Hold is the eloquent, moving story of Elyn's life, from the first time that she heard voices speaking to her as a young teenager, to attempted suicides in college, through learning to live on her own as an adult in an often terrifying world. Saks discusses frankly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, the voices in her head telling her to kill herself (and to harm others), as well as the incredibly difficult obstacles she overcame to become a highly respected professional. This beautifully written memoir is destined to become a classic in its genre.
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
- Publisher : Hachette Books; 1st edition (August 14, 2007)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 140130138X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1401301385
- Reading age : 13 years and up
- Grade level : 8 and up
- Item Weight : 1.09 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #847,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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She got accepted by USC Law School as a professor. I believe that the primary job of a law professor is to teach others how to practice law. In her first year she taught criminal law to a bunch of first year law students. She admits that she didn’t know what she was teaching and kept one chapter ahead of her students. The students knew they were not getting the instruction they were entitled to and she was savaged in her reviews. For some strange reason she was permitted to continue to teach this important course again the next year. That wouldn’t have happened at the law school I went to. She barely mentions law students in the book. She makes the law school look as the quintessential ivory tower, a place where she can seclude herself in her office and the library and write paper after paper. But law school is not like an undergraduate university, where the faculty can ignore the students and write abstruse articles on arcane subjects which only other people in academia care about. The job of a law professor is to train young men and women to practice a profession which is very important to our society. If a lawyer receives inadequate training, it can result in someone going to prison who isn’t guilty. Or, to use an analogy closer to home, a mental patient may have to remain incarcerated or be forced to take medication they hate because their lawyer is incompetent.
I was also bothered by her failure to acknowledge that her success never would have happened if she didn’t have very wealthy and tolerant parents. Other people, like Steve, were unbelievably giving. She generated a one way support network which is usually not available to mentally ill people, who are usually shunned.
When I was reading the book, I couldn’t help contrasting her to a young schizophrenic man I saw in a TV program on homelessness. He came from an upper middle class home. His parents had run out of money paying for mental hospitals. I think they couldn’t put up with his antics anymore. For whatever reason, he ended up a homeless beggar in New York, wandering the streets, filthy and talking to himself. One day his body ended up floating in the Hudson River.
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Only reservation would be the absence of any serious meditation on the family and childhood context. It seems like she had a particularly frightening encounter with authority apparatuses and it isn’t really addressed as a potential animus in the struggle.
Apart from that, I really did get a lot out of this book, and I am very grateful to the author for it. Brave and fascinating, consistently sensitive and open. Would absolutely recommend to anyone
Loved the battle of acceptance after the many trials of stopping meds. Will be recommending this to staff and patients at work