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Operators and Things

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  169 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Psychedelic memoir of the healing power of schizophrenic hallucinations in the 1950s
Published May 4th 1976 by Signet (first published 1958)
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Jun 12, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: h-reviews, d-mind
The most baffling thing about this book is that it isn't more widely known than it is. I've no real idea why - perhaps because it was written and published in the '50s, rather than the more receptive '60s? Or, more likely, because of its subject, madness? Or that a lot of readers just aren't sure how to take it: as fiction or as fact? If it's fiction, then I guess you could very loosely class it as science fiction, although I've read a lot of that and I don't know of anything else quite like thi ...more
Derek Davis
Dec 03, 2011 Derek Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up a paperback 40 years ago that has sat on my mind like a restless beast. It's had an effect on me like nothing else I've read, nothing I've since experienced.
How did I come on Operators and Things, and why could I not relate it to anything else in the world? My hazy answer (not recollection) is that I must have picked it up because of the bizarre title and opened it at random. I had no idea what I was reading. I just knew that it scared the living shit out of me.
Over time, I've read I
A fascinating, if difficult, read. Difficult because you have to be constantly careful not to take the book for more than it is, which is to say, a highly subjective and potentially flawed (perhaps even fictional) account of the narrator's experience with paranoid schizophrenia and its interface to the previous and subsequent normality.

I think the gist of what I like most in this book lies in the metanarrative, in watching the narrator - clearly an intelligent and perceptive individual - trying
Bri Fidelity
I've never actually seen or owned a copy of this book - when last I checked, it was 30 for a battered paperback copy on Amazon, and I'm neither that rich or that reckless - but there's at least one PDF copy floating around the Internet that I recommend wholeheartedly. (A reprint, passing publisher-types, would be nice.)

[ETA: Passing publisher-types, thank you very much.]
Octoff Malheiro
Feb 08, 2008 Octoff Malheiro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People of The Immovable Race
Recommended to Octoff by: Lawrence Joseph Davis 7-14-42/3-26-07
Schizophrenia is attosecond communication..
Normal or average Human beings are not set up for this quality of comm.

1 in 17,000 have enhanced minds..
1 in a billion complete two way flow of information.
1 incarnate being has total access/7^72^999 applications
per attosecond..
The one incarnate being would naturally be considered

The aboriginal 1st people knew that the 'crazies'
were children close to the Great Spirit..

The Great Spirit is altogether different from the gods
of the world rel
Jonathan Norton
In the 1950s an office-worker in a medium-sized business in America was observing the manipulations and deceptions performed by the cold-eyed careerists in her immediate environment. Then one day she woke up under the dominating psychic influence of various "Operators" who were going to take her in hand and reveal the true metaphysics behind social appearances: deadheaded ordinary folks are "Things" available for control by the competing gangs of overlords who have their own laws and ethics. The ...more
Geoff Sebesta
Jul 29, 2015 Geoff Sebesta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Possibly the best book I've ever read about schizophrenia, and I've read a few.

It even has a plausible-sounding explanation for why schizophrenia strikes, and those are rare.

I'm so glad this woman had this experience and so glad she survived and so glad she wrote this. I wish I could find out what happened to her for the rest of her life. She had a rare mind.
Melita Mihaljevic
True story of a woman's descent into schizophrenia and her journey back to sanity. Great book about the beauty and the weirdness of mind (both conscious and unconscious).
Sylvia Snowe
Nov 01, 2015 Sylvia Snowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 2015, we know by now that the writer was not truly schizophrenic, as these patients never completely recover as Ms. O'Brien did. However, her experience is a startling example of just how deeply an individual can descend into a world of hallucinations. Today, we understand better how extreme stress and depression can induce paranoia and delusions. This book remains a great document of how mental illness can strike anyone, how unimaginably "crazy" we can become.
Jan 03, 2013 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Burt explained. I could see why he had been chosen spokesman. What he had to say, he said clearly and in a few words. I had been selected for participation in an experiment. He hoped I would be cooperative; lack of cooperation on my part would make matters difficult for them and for myself. They were Operators, the three of them. There were Operators everywhere in the world although they rarely were seen or heard. My seeing and hearing them was, unfortunately, a necessary part of the experiment ...more
Miki Habryn
Sep 19, 2015 Miki Habryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite what you might have heard, not all that gripping as spec-fic. With sufficient suspension of disbelief to accept it as an internal narrative of schizophrenia, however, it's entirely fascinating. The somewhat dated closing commentary is interesting in its own way, though it drags by comparison.
The Hermit's
Jan 27, 2015 The Hermit's rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A complex account of a 6 month long spontaneous schizophrenic episode and the subsequent healing. I could relate to the complexity of delusions, hallucinations and paranoia and her understandable urge to suddenly leave her surroundings after experiencing insidious stress in the workplace.
I first read this book when I was about 12 years old. If my mother had known I was reading this book, she might not have allowed it.

Some people have questioned the authenticity of this book . I am absolutely convinced that it is legitimate.

An incredibly interesting book. I am absolutely amazed that more people are not aware of this book.

It is also interesting that this book is much less well known than the somewhat similar book I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.

If you are interested in the acc
Feb 04, 2016 Lana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lightly written story of a grave illness. A bit unbelievable, a bit shallow, yet quite gripping and surprising.
Jun 11, 2015 Kuxenjatko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolute must-read. Wise, optimistic, illuminative and most enjoyable.
Sep 19, 2008 Jackie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to make sense of schizophrenia
This is adventure - the writer is tipped into it against her (conscious) will. Her courage and humour are evident. It is about alientation in modern society, healing, integration and mental health. I would love to know what happened to her next...

I read this book in 1977 and loaned it out, never to have it returned. Got it again on Amazon and it is just as interesting second time around 30 years later. I noticed different things this time though.
May 01, 2011 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating....a true account of schizophrenia from a personal perspective, written in the fifties by a woman who apparently succumbed to the disease, describes her experience, and apparently became free from it on her own.
Jul 13, 2009 A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrifying little memoir of a woman failing to do it for herself, because of the misogyny of the early 1950s and her misunderstood, stigmatized mind and how the two things coalesced and bred a horrible little life for her.
Jul 10, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clear and compelling description of mental illness. It helps those of us not so challenged really understand what it is like for the one struggling with schizophrenia.
Ostensibly the memoir of a recovered schizophrenic. Unlike any other (auto)-biography I've ever read.
Jennifer Wingard
Aug 14, 2011 Jennifer Wingard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely an interesting read... especially the section on office politics and "Hook Operators".
Alana S
Nov 22, 2011 Alana S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting book about one persons experience with schizophrenia!
Jan 02, 2013 stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
accidentally read at work in PDF form; thanks, metafilter!
Mar 20, 2012 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Most compelling...
Katerinaakhokhlova marked it as to-read
Jun 16, 2016
velocityzen rated it it was amazing
May 29, 2016
John marked it as to-read
May 23, 2016
Alina Abramenko
Alina Abramenko marked it as to-read
May 20, 2016
Amanda Pyers
Amanda Pyers marked it as to-read
May 19, 2016
Abbi marked it as to-read
May 17, 2016
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“Yes," said Burt, and he looked pleased. But I hadn't spoken. I considered this for a moment.” 0 likes
“You realize that you had schizophrenic hallucinations and that the Operators did not exist.” 0 likes
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