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The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness Paperback – August 12, 2008
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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
Fascinating expose of a woman suffering with schizophrenia. One thing I kept getting stuck on is where did she get all the money to travel and go to expensive universities. Read morePublished 1 month ago by entity3sf
Very helpful book if you or your kid has problems. Easy to read.Published 1 month ago by Louis J. Dezseran Sr.
Such an important book! Read it in one breath, and honestly didn't want it to end. A brave journey about the power and vulnerability of humanityPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Holy moley was this a good read. Saks is able to describe vividly what it is like to be a person who is living with schizophrenia.Published 1 month ago by Becka B
It is estimated that one in 100 people have a form of schizophrenia. This book sheds light on these people and other people with mental health problems. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ordinary Consumer
No other resource has helped me understand my father, a paranoid schizophrenic with severe depression, as much as this book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Heather M