Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl
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Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  230 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This is an astonishing memoir of a young woman called only "Renee," whose descent into schizophrenia began at the age of five. Written with a diamond-sharp precision that lends it an eerie power, it tells the story of Renee's long sojourn in what she calls the "Land of Enlightenment" or "The Country of Tibet," and of her gradual and painstaking return to "wonderful reality...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Plume (first published 1947)
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Cooper Cooper
This is the story of Renée, a young Swiss woman suffering from schizophrenia. At age five she first began to experience what she called Unreality. Initially Unreality happened only occasionally, as when her playmates suddenly seemed to swell or shrink until she didn’t recognize them, or when the nearby school took on the aspect of a prison, or when the local valley seemed to stretch like an endless desert suffused with a brilliant, oppressive light. In time, however, Unreality appeared more oft...more
I learned a whole lotta nothing regarding "formative ego mechanisms in the psychotherapy of a schizophrenic." Huh? What? There was something about apples and then suddenly Renee is healed on page 89. On the positive side of things I found this book in the bottom of a box of old records so it was free. Score, sort of.
Bri Fidelity
Worth reading - and re-reading - for Renee's chilling, carefully-drawn descriptions of her increasingly eerie inner world:
The recreation period at school was often a source of the unreal feeling. I kept close to the fence as though I were indeed a prisoner and watched the other pupils shouting and running about in the school yard. They looked to me like ants under a bright light. The school building became immense, smooth, unreal, and an inexpressible anguish pressed in on me. I fancied that the
The story of Renée, a girl suffering from psychosis, and how she was treated with a modified psychoanalytic method. After identifying the deprivations Renée experienced in early life Sechehaye started working using Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development and Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development to achieve a better, healthier outcome of the development stages and overcome the original frustration that lead to her Ego's disintegration. A very demanding method, but apparently a successful on...more
this was a book written by a very insightful woman/girl. it's almost strange how she captured the nature of her illness. her analyst amazed me at her process with the patient. the explanation at the end about the patient's ego disintegration was interesting and made me feel like i was in grad school again. however, at times it did seem a little bit like mental masturbation. also, i wonder about the role of medication with this girl/woman at the time. all in all, a fascinating read.
While I'm sure the girl's account of her experience is by all means accurate it wasn't necessarily interesting, which I suppose she can't be faulted for. The analysis at the end of the book seemed a bit dated and perhaps a bit too Freudian, which was disappointing. All in all it just wasn't for me.
I really liked this book. Not sure how useful it is from a clinical standpoint, but for me it was a very interesting to read the first-hand account of someone dealing with extreme mental illness. Very quick and enjoyable read
Valuable for the detailed, almost visionary descriptions of how light and space and time appeared to her when she was most lost.
Un viaggio toccante attraverso i racconti della stessa paziente, Renée, riguardo la sua malattia, le sue allucinazioni e la caratteristica perdita della realtà. Il tutto contornato da una presentazione ben costruita e dalla interpretazione finale del caso. La dott.ssa Sechehaye riesce a curare la paziente grazie alla tecnica della Rappresentazione simbolica, basandosi sulla principale causa della malattia mentale in genere e della schizofrenia nel particolare: la mancanza o insufficienza di amor...more
I am glad I saw this on Goodreads and read it. Renee tells the story of her illness in a way that is very powerful and engaging. The way she describes what is happening and her thoughts and feelings are amazing. It really gives the reader a glimpse into psychosis in a way other books on the subject don't.

The Interpretation section of the book however, is a bit of a challenging read, steeped deep in Freudian thinking. Its greatest fault IMO is that it doesn't give a time frame so one cannot gaug...more
Nikki Noey
Before starting, I should have hit some psychology books to brush up. Still, there was a lot to take from Renee's recollections of her struggle with schizophrenia. The way she described her illness was both harrowing, and eye opening. The glimpse into mid 20th century psychology is obvious, given the deeply Freudian language her analyst used to describe her treatment. Whether the treatment was outdated or not, it clearly helped Renee. This was a fascinating read because of the view of a skewed p...more
A girl with pretty severe schizophrenia is able to recall and articulate her experience of psychological decompensation after she has not only returned to stability, but is in remission from the illness. This insider's view of schizophrenia is very rare in what it is and very powerful. Her psychoanalyst's afterword is, not surprisingly, pretty heady and may not be interesting to someone who hasn't studied psychology extensively. (I found it hugely fascinating!)
Sep 06, 2007 Alexandra rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in crazy people
I read this a long time ago, but it's the first "crazy person memoir" I read, which is now probably my favorite sort of book there is. And this one is great because it's actually written by a person who went through serious mental illness and came out the other side. There is also a lot of info in it from her therapist too.
Christian Lipski
A true first-person account of what happens within the mind of the schizophrenic. Renee details what she felt, imagined, saw, during her sickness and recovery. Followed by a psychiatric analysis of the period, this is a fascinating book for those who want to know more about the experience of mental illness.
Aug 07, 2007 Jeremy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: few
Perhaps becuase this book is told mainly (their was some help from her therapist) from the point of veiw of the actual mentally disturbed/ill girl it has little narrative coherence. It does not make for easy reading, and though they may have intended it to be that way I believe it was a poor choice.
Incredible. Some very hardcore psychology, hard for a layman to follow, but some unbelievable experiences documented regarding the disintegration of the Self, the Ego, and the healing of a mind previously unable to decipher the difference between the "world without" and the "world within."
Dec 27, 2007 Jacki rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people that are curious about the human mind
Shelves: biography
I have a version of this book from 1951, complete with an analysis from a Freudian Psychologist. It's hard to fathom the things that this girl went through--the world that she lived in--because of the severity of the case. It's a sort of parallel universe with consciousness in both worlds.
Elias Samuels
It was a nice book. It pictured the mere idea of what an schizophrenic person undergoes. I didn't read the interpretation part since it is outdated. Overall, the book is a nice piece of literature to read and learn a little from it.
I also believe that the translation had some issues.
Hadorah Freckles
excellent. a true testimony of the human spirit in the will to live and endure and recover from Scizophrenia, no matter how torturous and chaotic the uncontrollable storm was, mentally, physically, and emotionally. fascinating. absolute must read.
I really wanted to like this book, based on the title. Maybe it was due to the translation from the French, maybe because the author was schizophrenic, but the whole thing felt very disjointed to me.
excellent first half, where we get the recollections of the afflicted. don't even bother reading the freudian analysis of the situation though. totally and completely hocus pocus.
a heartfelt expose of the most unseen gallows of the psyche --- a most intense, most beautiful attempt at the reconciliation of trauma through language - my <3
Jul 30, 2014 Ted rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: home
A truly astonishing story, and one you can't ever forget. Everyone who has any interest in mental illness or the depths of the mind should read this book.
Dec 31, 2012 TaleofGenji marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Beu Ribe
Perfécto libro si de integración de casos se trata. Además de que es una excelente fuente para el entendidimiento de la estructura psicótica.
Kelly Mccaugherty
Zero Stars. Yet another challenging piece of material...This year's PD isn't going quite as smoothly as it has in the past...sigh
This book was a bit hard to understand. I felt like it was written only as a study for other doctors.
autobiography really fascinating; analysis sections interesting but a bit over my head.
Rens Driel
Interesting insight on someone with schizophrenia.
A memoir combined with analysis.
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“During the earliest attacks of Fear and intense unreality, I sometimes uttered these unconscious and shocking words: 'I should prefer to escape into madness to avoid this consuming fear.' Alas, I did not know what I was saying. In my ignorance I believed that madness was a state of insensibility where there was neither pain nor suffering nor joy, but particularly, no responsibility. Never, for one instant, has I even imagined what 'to lose one's reason' actually meant.” 1 likes
“For me, madness was definitely not a condition of illness; I did not believe that I was ill. It was rather a country, opposed to Reality, where reigned an implacable light, blinding, leaving no place for shadow; an immense space without boundary, limitless, flat; a mineral, lunar country, cold as the wastes of the North Pole. In this stretching emptiness, all is unchangeable, immobile, congealed, crystallised. Objects are stage trappings, placed here and there, geometric cubes without meaning.

People turn weirdly about, they make gestures, movements without sense; they are phantoms whirling on an infinite plain, crushed by the pitiless electric light. And I - I am lost in it, isolated, cold, stripped purposeless under the light.”
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