This book probably taught me more about the experience of schizophrenia than any of the many clinical psych classes I've taken. Most explanations/descThis book probably taught me more about the experience of schizophrenia than any of the many clinical psych classes I've taken. Most explanations/descriptions of schizophrenia tend to focus on the delusions and hallucinations, maybe because they're the most obvious and characteristic symptoms--and, perhaps, the most scary ones for neurotypical people. However, above all, this memoir really brought across how sad, isolating, and terrifying it can be to experience psychotic disorders.
As a mental health professional, though, I have to say that I was highly disturbed by the psychoanalysts that Dr. Saks describes working with in this book. Although I believe her when she says that analysis helped her, the behavior of her analysts seems extremely inappropriate and manipulative at times. One allowed her to remain completely dependent on and obsessed with her for a period of years; another threatened to "terminate" her--he actually used phrases like "I will have to terminate you"--when she did not behave as he wanted. I didn't think my opinion of psychoanalysis could get any worse than it already was, but apparently that's possible.
If that's the sort of psychotherapy that people with schizophrenia and related disorders typically receive, I'm not surprised that Dr. Saks seems to be so unusual in her ability to cope with her symptoms and maintain such a successful career....more
Very interesting and well-written essays about a variety of topics, and yet all about the same topic--empathy and pain. I particularly enjoyed the titVery interesting and well-written essays about a variety of topics, and yet all about the same topic--empathy and pain. I particularly enjoyed the title essay, "The Empathy Exams," about medical actors, as well as "Devil's Bait," about Morgellons disease; "The Immortal Horizon," about the Barkley Marathons, and "Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain," which I had read before online but gladly read again in its entirety.
I was less fond of the several essays about Jamison's travels to developing countries. Although these were probably some of the best essays I've read in this genre (white author travels to scary place being the genre), it still made me distinctly uncomfortable. Jamison seemed aware of her own privilege and the limits of the lens she looked through, and the descriptions were evocative and the narratives defied simplification or condescension, but self-aware privilege is still privilege. I feel that these topics are better written about by people who have actually lived in these places and had these experiences. Jamison understands that she's a tourist, but she's still a tourist.
In general, I appreciated Jamison's willingness to critique her own responses and emotions. If her genre of writing can be considered "navel gazing," then it's clearly paid off for her, as evidenced by her self-awareness and comfort with the idea that she might be wrong about something. The essays made me think deeper about empathy, pain, gender, and emotional expression, and I especially appreciated the new essay at the end about how the book has affected readers and how they have shared their pain with Jamison, prompting guilt at her own inability to express empathy for all of them. That's something I relate to strongly as a writer with a "confessional" sort of blog....more
This book wasn't at all what I expected, but it was brilliant. Until now, I'd never understood what's really going on with American healthcare, both pThis book wasn't at all what I expected, but it was brilliant. Until now, I'd never understood what's really going on with American healthcare, both psychiatry and in general. Now I do, and the truth is rather depressing but very important. Everybody who has any interest in health and medicine--so basically, everyone--should read this....more
Loved it. Brampton's stated purpose--to share a story that makes fellow depressives feel as though we're not alone--was completely fulfilled by this bLoved it. Brampton's stated purpose--to share a story that makes fellow depressives feel as though we're not alone--was completely fulfilled by this book. It was really inspirational and I'm glad she found the courage to write it....more
All I can say is...you've got to have a pretty charmed life if cleaning your closet and not nagging your husband are all you need to do to be happier.All I can say is...you've got to have a pretty charmed life if cleaning your closet and not nagging your husband are all you need to do to be happier.
Other reviewers have already mentioned Rubin's privileged life and the strangely unlikable persona that she cultivates in the book, so I won't talk about that.
I do want to point out, however, that unless you're a middle-aged, middle-class adult with a family and a fulfilling career, this book really won't do you much good. As a college student who has no husband to nag, no kids to yell at, no career to advance, and no home to organize, most of the suggestions in this book were simply not applicable. I guess I could try to bring some order to my tiny student apartment and attempt to spend more time with friends who, like me, are way to busy writing papers to hang out.
Some of the suggestions could definitely be applied to my own life, though. Rubin has some very smart things to say about spending money in a way that promotes happiness, for instance, and since I have so little money, I want to spend what I have in a way that benefits me the most. I also liked the suggestions about keeping journals, laughing at yourself more, and connecting with people with whom you have shared interests. But that's mostly common sense....more
This book...hm. It was emotionally very difficult for me to read, especially since I'm Israeli myself. It's also difficult sometimes to make sense ofThis book...hm. It was emotionally very difficult for me to read, especially since I'm Israeli myself. It's also difficult sometimes to make sense of the author's thoughts, since he wasn't intending to write a book and has simply compiled his emails with little or no editing.
If you already know a lot about Israeli history, this book will illuminate the human aspect of all those names, dates, and numbers of people killed. But if you don't, it will be very confusing, because Gordis often doesn't explain events fully.
I'd recommend it to anyone with existing knowledge of the situation. Otherwise, you'd best start off with something more user-friendly....more
I don't really understand the point of writing a memoir when you don't really have any unique or enlightening experiences to share with the world, butI don't really understand the point of writing a memoir when you don't really have any unique or enlightening experiences to share with the world, but it was entertaining nonetheless. ...more