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The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness

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At seventeen Lori Schiller was the perfect child -- the only daughter of an affluent, close-knit family. Six years later she made her first suicide attempt, then wandered the streets of New York City dressed in ragged clothes, tormenting voices crying out in her mind. Lori Schiller had entered the horrifying world of full-blown schizophrenia. She began an ordeal of hospitalizations, halfway houses, relapses, more suicide attempts, and constant, withering despair. But against all odds, she survived. Now in this personal account, she tells how she did it, taking us not only into her own shattered world, but drawing on the words of the doctors who treated her and family members who suffered with her.

In this new edition, Lori Schiller recounts the dramatic years following the original publication -- a period involving addiction, relapse, and ultimately, love and recovery.

Moving, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting, THE QUIET ROOM is a classic testimony to the ravages of mental illness and the power of perseverance and courage.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1994

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Lori Schiller

2 books24 followers

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5 stars
3,327 (38%)
4 stars
3,106 (36%)
3 stars
1,723 (20%)
2 stars
333 (3%)
1 star
105 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 424 reviews
July 31, 2022
I think at some stage in our lives, we take our physical and mental health for granted, some of us without even meaning to do so. I honestly feel like a person cannot truly understand mental illness unless they have been through it themselves. It is that simple. Yes, family and friends can empathise and give all the support they possibly can, but when it comes down to it, even after all of the medication, the therapy or the CBT, you are the only one that can turn it around.

This is a true story of a successful, clever, young female adult (Lori Schiller) who was happily gliding through life, pretty much without a care in the world. Suddenly, without any prior warning, she begins to hear voices in her head that nobody other than herself can hear. These voices are negatively damaging, and want her to harm herself. This poses an immediate danger to knowing what voices are real, and what are not. Schiller slowly becomes more distant from her family and friends, just preferring her own company. Throughout this memoir which has other perspectives as well as Schiller's, she is hospitalized in three different hospitals over many years, due to the illness that we know as schizophrenia, and we learn just how she managed to get through the other side.

I have the utmost respect for an individual that would openly talk about their mental health, especially in a book such as this. Mental health itself is still stigmatised, which to me, is completely ridiculous, when so many struggle, and try to cope alone. It took me four years after countess trips to the GP to be taken seriously about my mental health, and still now, I get shunned out of the door by consultants, who think a couple of painkillers will do the trick. It takes a lot for a person to get recognition in regards to a mental illness here in the UK, and sometimes, by the time they do, the damage has already been done.

"Everything they did to me in the hospital was a form of control. Medicine helped contain me, but not my thoughts. Sodium Amytal helped mellow my behaviour, but did not tame my brain. Cold wet packs restrained my impulsive and explosive behaviours, but did not muffle all the clamor and upheaval going on inside."

This book was well written, in depth, and powerful, and I want to recommend this to all, as I think the subject matter is incredibly important, but unfortunately, is so often swept under the carpet, due to ignorance and embarrassment. Schiller is most definitely an inspiration, so thank you for sharing your experience.
Profile Image for Kerry.
111 reviews97 followers
June 11, 2012
This book was (I imagine heavily) co-written, and as a result, it doesn't pack the emotional punch of books such as The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, Girl, Interrupted, or Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir.

I was also annoyed by the way the book was framed as a story of personal “triumph” and “courage” (to quote the book's jacket copy). Obviously, Lori Schiller was extremely lucky to have to the emotional and financial support she needed to forge a life where, in her words, “it is I who am in control of my illness and not the other way around.” The fact that she was able to find a medication her brain responded to was another stroke of luck. It would be easy to draw the false conclusion that mentally ill people who haven't been as fortunate as Lori have therefore “failed," when the reality is that we as a society have failed them.
Profile Image for Steffanie.
96 reviews5 followers
October 29, 2012


^^That's how this book made me feel. I can give it nothing less than 5 stars because I don't think that you can "rate" a non-fiction. I wish it were fiction. I wish schizophrenia were fiction.

You know, one time I attended a NAMI meeting. National Alliance on Mental Illness. It's suppose to be for the family members of those with mental illness. Their motto is: "You are not alone in this fight". After going to that meeting, I had never felt more alone. I wanted to grab everyone at that meeting and tell them to shut the hell up. "waaaah, my daughter is bi-polar and yelled at me", and such. I felt like none of them knew anything. I felt like no one could possibly understand what is is like to have a family member with full-blown crazy.

Schizophrenia is cruel.

This book tells many different viewpoints: The schizophrenic patient herself, her doctors, and her family. I enjoyed reading the viewpoints of her family, because I could relate to them. I got to a sentence, written by Lori's mother, that finally made me feel less alone: "Especially when the staff member was new, I just wanted to scream: "I've been doing this for years, don't you understand. Years. I know all this better than you do."

Reading Lori Schiller's story did more than let me know that there are other schizophrenics out there, and there are other tormented families going through the same thing (which is what I thought I was looking for)...it actually helped me understand my afflicted family member more. Lori's book gave me a much needed glimpse into the mind of one afflicted by schizophrenia.

I really had no idea that "the voices" could be so real. To hear Lori's account of how real they are,...well I can't write it here in a way that could explain it. Read the book if you are interested.

I wish I knew how she is now. It's been almost 20 years since she wrote the book. Wiki answers says she's good, living and working in Florida. I wish I could trust that. I wonder how her brothers are now. I wonder if my life will ever be absent of...constant worry.
Profile Image for Ashley.
29 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2012
The majority of people with schizophrenia remain too cognitively disorganized to disclose their innermost thoughts and impressions of their illness, so the fact that such a brash, yet cohesive, account exists is fascinating in itself. As someone who hopes to work with individuals with mental illness, I unearthed many tidbits that are useful for clinical practice-- from how the quiet room served as a blank white canvas onto which she sprayed her internal chaos onto, exacerbating the terror, to how the nonchalant attitude of one therapist helped her unravel her unconscious. It is a novel I would highly recommend to anyone in the mental health field. Of course, I had to consistently remind myself that this is merely a case study and it cannot be generalized to everyone with the diagnosis.
I like that it shifted perspectives with each chapter, introducing dialogue from the patient's parents, brothers, friends, and therapist. At times, their expulsions perturbed me with their callousness and justifications: "My Lori got straight A's at Tufts and was skinny and beautiful, I swear"! But eventually, instead of being irritated by it, I treated it as insight into the acceptance of mental illness within a narrow-minded, upper-middle class family about 30 years ago, where the stigma surrounding mental illness lingered heavy like fog. It becomes easier to empathize with the parents when you recall that this was the time of the "schizophrenogenic mother" theory. So, if one delves into the novel hoping to learn something and gain different perspectives on a largely misunderstood mental illness, one will not be disappointed.
913 reviews389 followers
May 3, 2009
Many of us realize (occasionally, at least) that we take our physical health for granted, but does it ever enter our consciousness how much we take our psychological health for granted? Imagine being a perfectly normal young adult from a happy family and privileged background, popular and headed for success, and suddenly hearing voices that no one hears, frightening and extremely real-sounding, so that it becomes harder and harder to distinguish between what's real and what isn't. Gradually, you become distant from your friends and less functional in your life, ultimately doing things that land you in mental hospitals where you're convinced you don't belong, despite your confusing behavior and even more confusing mental state. This was Lori Schiller's story, as chronicled in her multiple-perspective memoir.

What The Bell Jar wasn't, this book was -- a real inside look at mental illness, a clear picture complete with the perspectives of not only the sufferer but her family, friends, and psychiatrist. For the first time, I felt like I might understand (if it's possible to ever truly understand) what it really feels like to hear those voices and have them take over your life; how classic schizophrenic symptoms like detachment from other people and bizarre self-destructive behavior develop from the inside; and most importantly, how someone who seems perfectly healthy and functional can suddenly manifest this disease, frightening everyone around them but most of all themselves. I got an inside look into what it feels like to be in that hospital, how difficult it is to take medications which don't seem to help that much and come with awful side effects, and the uphill battle of coming to terms with your diagnosis before you can even start to improve.

I debated the fifth star because I thought the last chapter describing her recovery on clozapine was a bit rushed after all that illness, and because I couldn't help wondering at the authenticity of all the perspectives -- this memoir seemed to work a little too well, and I was surprised that all the various family members were so willing to share their conveniently eloquent perspectives (of course, it could simply be that the ghostwriter did a fabulous job). But ultimately, this book was powerful, well-done, and taught me a lot so I decided to assign all five stars. I give Lori and her family a great deal of credit for being willing to share their stories, and I felt that this was one memoir that was worth reading.
Profile Image for  Sarah Lumos.
123 reviews99 followers
November 15, 2018
Re-read: Nov 14/18 Instead of reading new books, I have been trying to return to old books. Sometimes a book captivates you, but you go through it so quickly that you cannot absorb it in its entirety. The Quiet Room was one of those books. It is a raw and unforgettable memoir about mental illness. A well-written and enjoyable read overall.

Previous Review

As someone who works in the social service sector, I have seen how isolating living with a mental illness can be. It is why books like these are so darn important. They serve as powerful reminders that we are not alone on our battlefields. The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness is an empowering and thought-provoking read that chronicles one woman's experience with schizophrenia.

Nothing could taint Schiller's life: she grows up in an affluent neighbourhood with educated parents who provide her with ample access to opportunities. However, the summer before her senior year, she starts hearing voices inside her head. As the auditory hallucinations become more violent and demanding, she has trouble distinguishing between reality and her delusions. Though her treatment journey is difficult, she is able to remain resilient and overcome her myriad challenges.

In my opinion, this book is a must read for medical professionals because as opposed to pharmacology and neuroscience, in the past, psychiatrists studied personal patient accounts to understand how mental illness works. I believe this should be just as important today because illness needs to be treated holistically. After all, it was the medical professionals who tried to understand Schiller as a whole person who existed outside of her illness that helped her the most.

As an aspiring Social Worker, this book also gave me hope that with resilience, medical intervention, adequate social support and grit, those with chronic mental health conditions can lead productive and fulfilling lives. But all these different components of treating mental illness take time. We think mental illness can be waved away with a wand, but not even in my beloved fantasy novels does that happen.

Overcoming any type of illness is a long journey, and like Schiller, you might find yourself feeling behind. Schiller not only has to cope with her medical treatment, but also seeing her friends and family moving forward while her life remains stagnant. Yet she was able to carve out a fulfilling life for herself as a counsellor, wife, daughter, public speaker, and author.

Overall, a mesmerizing, haunting, and inspiring memoir on Schiller's battle with schizophrenia. Her brave and thoughtful account made me understand that a devastating diagnosis like schizophrenia does not have to mark the end of your life, in fact, it can mark the beginning. The only reason I cannot give this book a perfect rating is because it lacked the punch The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness had.
Profile Image for Lisa.
112 reviews8 followers
March 22, 2015
This was a poorly written book. I got so tired of hearing from her family, who in multiple chapters kept repeating over and over how this illness stole their daughter away from their perfect upper middle class life. I get it- no one expected it, she was supposed to go to college and get married and have kids. But it was every freaking time they talked. I think the book being written by two people, and making such heavy use of writing and words that originally belonged to others, contributed to its mediocre quality.

The late parts of the book are better, because she really gets involved in treatment and we gain some real insight into her condition. Its also a comforting story, and useful for people suffering from schizophrenia, an illness that can be so hopeless and that many consider untreatable. The earlier portions are either vague mentions of Voices, pure unexamined delusional tidbits, or outside accounts of her crazy behavior. The concept of coverage from all angles is good but it just didn't work well here.
Profile Image for Melanie.
425 reviews8 followers
November 26, 2010
I am reading this to help me gain insight into my sister's mental illness. Unfortunately, the author has schizo-affective disorder while my sister is paranoid-schizophrenic and it is obvious from the early part of the book (I am about 1/2 through) that there are significant differences. The book is poorly written and not as insightful as I would have hoped. It doesn't answer many obvious questions. For example, I've often wondered about the voices. Are they the voices of people she knows? Are they the same voices or different people's voices? Does she ever hear her own voice? My sister hears people calling to her because they are trapped in locked storage containers, trunks of cars and other places. She believes the voices are external. Apparently, at least part of the time, Lori Schiller knows the voices are internal. I think I'm going to come away from this book with just as many questions as before.

Finished the book. She does talk about her voices more in the second half and it gets more into her head about what it is like to have schizo-affective disorder. Her recovery is surprisingly little of the book and is based on the availability of a new drug. In some ways the book points out that therapists and psychiatrists work harder on patients who are violent. Since my sister is non-violent, she's pushed out the door and living on the streets--okay she gets a stipend from the state--but she doesn't have access to the new drugs or hospital care. So she'll always hear the voices and never understand that they are not real.
Profile Image for Lindsay Stoffers.
3 reviews5 followers
February 10, 2013
A great book and wonderful advocation for those suffering from mental health disorders. Hearing a first account story of a woman who suffers from schizophrenia inspires me and my work with clients in the mental health profession. Thanks for sharing your story Lori.
Profile Image for Grace Jensen.
125 reviews7 followers
July 22, 2013
If you were tempted to pick up Girl, Interrupted, I would recommend this instead. I couldn't put it down once I started, even though it was rich with truth.
This doesn't glamorize mental illness, like some literature tends to do. Instead it reads almost like a documentary. Each person (her, her parents, siblings, and doctor) is honest, sometimes uncomfortably so, and it builds respect and trust reading it. I found myself rooting for Lori, wanting to yell at the book, encourage her and help her along.
I would suggest this book for anyone dealing with a schizo disorder and their family members. Anyone dealing with a mental illness knows that no one does it alone. Everyone around you is effected.
I think anyone dealing with a mental illness would glean some comfort by association, that no matter where you are in life, in treatment, there is hope, and give some insight to what it is like for the people around you.
As much as I would like to keep this book, I want to donate it, book it forward. It's too relevant to not go everywhere.
4 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. I liked how it was a true story and gave an accurate depiction of someone who lives with schizophrenia. However, it wasn't an easy read. It was tough to look inside Lori's brain and see the torment that she endured for years and years. She went from being a normal kid with a normal life and the next day she began hearing the voices. Throughout the story, it had to be told from different points of view like her mother, father, and friend. This was because at some points in her illness she was on so many drugs that she couldn't recollect what happened during those times. I found her story to be really fascinating and compelling. I never could have imagined what people with schizophrenia go through on a daily basis. A lot of times I even judged the people I heard about on the news who were suspected to have schizophrenia. Overall, this book was very well written and gave me a lot of different perspectives on either knowing someone who has schizophrenia or being that person.
Profile Image for Debbie "DJ".
350 reviews396 followers
May 4, 2014
This is a true story of the authors journey through and with schizophrenia. I liked how it was told from the various viewpoints of her family, psychiatrists, and her own perspective. I loved the authors writing and how she was able to take me into her world. The experience is something I cannot imagine living. I now have a new understand of how this disease affects everyone in the sufferers life. How it has a sudden onset in the late teens and destroys all connections to the outside world. Voices inside one's head become more real than outside voices. As this took place in the 1980's it showed me the limited options available at the time. I was truly horrified at many of the methods used, one of which was called "the quiet room." A heartfelt thank you to the author for her courage in writing such a deeply personal account.
Profile Image for Seran Y..
36 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2017
Bu kitabı okumamın iki nedeni vardı. Biri psikolojiyle yakından ilgilenmem. Diğeri ise kitapta geçen tüm olayların gerçek olması. Tabii bu konu aklımda biraz muallakta kaldı. Kitabı okurken sürekli olarak acaba gerçekten gerçek mi diye düşünüp durdum. Fakat sonuç olarak kitapta yaşananlar gerçek bile olmasa kitabın işinin ehli, uzman biri tarafından yazıldığı belli. Çünkü kitapta geçen bilgileri ya yaşamış biri yada uzman bir psikiyatrist bilebilir. Bu yüzden yazılmış olan şeyler büyük ihtimalle gerçek.

Kitapta yazar Lori Schiller 17 yaşında kapıldığı şizofreni hastalığının derinlerine inip bu hastalıktan nasıl kurtulduğunu ayrıntısıyla anlatıyor. 17 yaşında sesler duymaya başladığında bunu hiç kimseye söylemiyor. Fakat daha sonra derin bir depresyonun içine çekilip intihar etmeye kalktığında onu hastaneye yatırıyorlar. İlk başta Lori hastalığını kabul etmiyor. İçi öfke dolu. Bu kabul etmeme durumu yıllarca devam ediyor. Bazen hastaneden çıkış yapıyor fakat daha sonra tekrar hastaneye geri dönüş yapıyor. Uyuşturucu bağımlısı oluyor. Yıllarca çeşit çeşit ilaç kullanıyor. Akıl sağlığını iyice yitiriyor. Şişmanlıyor, çirkinleşiyor. Arkadaşlarını kaybediyor. O popüler, güzel ve sevilen, başarılı bir kız olduğu zamanları özlüyor. Tam hastalıktan kurtulduğunu düşünürken tekrar o çukurun içine düşüyor. Elbette sürekli halüsinasyonlar görüyor ve gördüklerinin gerçek olduğuna inanıyor. Gördüklerinin gerçek olmadığını söyleyenlerden nefret ediyor. Fakat en sonunda karşısına çıkan iki psikiyatrist sayesinde hastalığını kabulleniyor ve ancak o zaman çıkış yolu bulabiliyor.

Kitapta hastane kayıtlarından ve Lori'nin günlüğünden sayfalar okuyoruz. Ailesinin düşüncelerine de yer veriyor çoğu yerde.

Ben kitabı sevdim. Başından şizofreni hastalığı geçmiş birinin düşüncelerini görmek, yaşadıklarını okumak hoşuma gitti. Şizofreni hastalığına karşı büyük bir merakı olan biri olarak bu kitabı elime aldığımda çok heyecanlandım ve okuyup bitirdiğimde pişman olmadım.

Basım kalitesi klasik Martı basımıydı. Yani ortalama derecede iyi. Çevirisi gayet iyiydi. Yazım hataları yoktu. Bir kaç küçük noktalama işareti hatası vardı fakat fazla göze batmıyordu.

Sonuç olarak okumanız için tavsiye edebileceğim bir eser. Umarım sizde okuduğunuzda pişman olmazsınız.
173 reviews15 followers
July 7, 2013
Interesting read. A couple thoughts I had throughout:
1) The author had MONEY and a supportive and educated family. Terrifying to consider what her situation would have been like without either of these things.
2) Of course, sadness. So much lost potential.
3) In Lori's case, was therapy really doing any good? Seems that there was little "journey" out of madness, just life with and without medication; once the medication was introduced, the problems diminished quite a bit.
4) How has the treatment of schizophrenia/serious mental illness changed since this book was written? How has its popular perception changed? (Especially considering the appearance of mentally ill people in pop culture, and the development of successful medicines to treat many conditions.)
26 reviews
June 10, 2012
A fascinating account of a woman born into an ambitious family, intelligent, accepted to an Ivy League university, who finds herself disturbed by Voices and experiencing wild mood swings. Her description of what goes on inside her head gives insight into the incredible challenges involved with living with schizophrenia. She survives the disbelief/denial of her illness by her family and herself, several hopitalizations, and brain-numbing medications, to finally find a medication which allows her to reclaim her life.
Profile Image for Samantha Mitchell .
195 reviews30 followers
April 13, 2018
I learned a lot about the processes taken in the care system when you have a mental illness and about schizophrenia itself. She obviously came from an upper class family; because of that I wonder if her care was different. I REALLY hated her parents. I found them selfish. It just felt like a lot of it had been co-written, I started to feel like chapters were similar and I didn’t get the same personal feelings as I did with My Lovely Wife in the Phych Ward, for example. After that, though, still a good read.
104 reviews
October 30, 2018
Başarılı,sevilen ,cıvıl cıvıl bir genç kızın hayatının,kafasının içinde beliren seslerle tam tersi bir yöne gitmesini anlatan bu kitabı beğendim.Beynin çalışma şekli,hastalıkları hep ilgimi çeker,bu konulara ilgi duymayanlar için sıkıcı bir kitap olabilir.Martı yayıncılık bu kadar çok dizgi ve bağlaç hatasını nasıl gözden kaçırmış şaşırdım.Rahatsız edecek derecede çok hata vardı.Özetle ilgi duyduğum bir konuda ve gerçek bir hayat hikayesi olması sebebiyle kitabı beğendim.
52 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2018
It’s like Dory from “Finding Nemo” tried to write a story about her life. It was like reading a list that someone forgot they already made but reading it five hundred times.

Loved the premise and thought of reading this but this did not deliver.
2 reviews
March 5, 2020
Hi, are you as surprised to be reading this review as I am to be writing it? Overall, I thought this was an interesting book (not novel) which detailed the patient narrative of Lori Schiller, who started having symptoms of schizophrenia at the age of 17. The book detailed her journey to diagnosis, her symptoms, her treatments, and her recovery over a span of 10 years. It gave me a much better understanding of schizophrenia and what exactly the Voices were. Some of the chapters were written by her mom, dad, brothers, and doctors which I thought was really cool because it exemplified how illnesses put a tremendous burden on not only patients, but also on their loved ones. Although fascinating, the book seemed long and I didn’t like how some of the family members who wrote chapters tried to use literary language and couldn’t just write how it was. One chapter written by Lorie’s mother started with “Click. Click. Click. Click.” Last time I used onomatopoeia (took me 3 minutes to figure out how to spell it) to start a piece of writing was in 6th grade. Does this mean I will hate reading fiction?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mike Roper.
28 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2021
Candid and insightful. An essential read for anyone that wants to better understand severe mental health issues.
Profile Image for Kirsty.
2,679 reviews177 followers
February 8, 2017
The Quiet Room by Lori Schiller, which was first published in 1994, was February's choice for my Mad Woman's Book Club. It sounded incredibly intriguing to me, and created quite a lot of buzz with other members. Schiller's account of her schizo-affective disorder, which contains elements of both schizophrenia and manic depression, has been written with the guidance of Amanda Bennett, a Wall Street journalist.

Schiller's diagnosis was not reached until she was twenty-three years old, and a graduate of Tufts University in Massachusetts. Prior to this, she is in an almost constant state of turmoil; she wakes up hearing voices whilst at a summer camp when she is seventeen, and they remain with her. To her strength, she does not let anything interfere with her education, but soon after she has finished her degree and is looking at beginning a career in a shared apartment in New York City that she is immersed within the mental care system. 'Along the way,' writes Schiller, 'I have lost many things: the career I might have pursued, the husband I might have married, the children I might have had. During the years when my friends were marrying, having their babies and moving into the houses I once dreamed of living in, I have been behind locked doors, battling the Voices who took over my life without even asking my permission.' Schiller's description of these voices is often chilling.

We are given Schiller's opinion of events throughout, as well as those of her parents, brothers, friends, and psychiatrist - pretty much everyone who experienced the worst of it with her. This use of multiple perspectives helps to fill those memory gaps which Schiller has about some of her darkest points, and gives a fuller picture of the disease and its effects. The position of retrospect which Schiller, of course, has to take, is fascinating to draw out here. It comes in a sort of double dose, I suppose; the book was written with several years of distance, but reading it in the 21st century allows one to see just how much things have altered with regard to treatments being tailored to individuals rather than the mass. The same can be said for the diagnostic process. Those I know who have suffered with mental illness suggest that diagnoses are not made in such a trial-and-error manner as they appear to have been in Schiller's case.

At the beginning of The Quiet Room, I felt quite distanced and wasn't overly engaged with it. It changed dramatically at around the fifty page point for me though, after which I could barely put it down. Schiller's case is harrowing; it takes an awfully long time for a diagnosis to be reached, and many treatments fail to work for her, either exacerbating her symptoms or making her withdraw further into herself. One feels an awful lot of empathy for her.

The Quiet Room presents enlightening and scary details about firsthand drug use, which Schiller turns to when the more traditional treatments fail to work for her. It is certainly a no-holds-barred memoir. Throughout her ordeal, Schiller shows great bravery; when released after one of her earliest hospitalisations, she applies for a job in a psychiatric hospital. The reading process involved here is intense, and rather draining at times. It is difficult to really enjoy a book of this sort, but it is not difficult to admire the writer and her courage in making such a horrific story publicly available. The Quiet Room is honest and powerful, and a must-read if you are at all interested in mental illness and its effects.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
216 reviews17 followers
July 27, 2014
I really enjoyed this. It's true that this isn't a literary masterpiece, but it holds a powerful narrative. Lori Schiller is a young woman that has come far enough with her battle with mental illness that she can tell her story. What really fascinated me was that several people contributed to her narrative, effectively feeling in the gaps in her timeline and painting a heartbreaking picture of what it's like to love someone with a mental illness. Most powerful for me were her father's contributions. You can tell that he is a powerful and reserved man with a great love for his family. At one point he has to ask members of a board that he serves on to expand insurance benefits to his child, as the financial pressure has been too much for his family to handle alone. You can just feel how tense that was for him, and I think it's important to be honest about things like that. Even more moving to me was imagining what Lori's story would have been like had she been lacking a financially stable family that loved her. This has less to do with privilege and more to do with a huge imbalance in the availability of mental health services. Think about all of the prisoners with Schizophrenia that are released with a week's worth of medication and told to check in with parole officers. For someone hearing voices that just isn't good enough. A change is needed. As a community we have to start caring for the mentally ill and erasing some of the stigma attached with accessing mental health services. Very important book, and I wish Ms. Schiller all the success in the world.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jillian.
1,109 reviews15 followers
December 22, 2008
I only had a few titles to choose from when I looked to borrow audio tapes at the tutoring center and I'm very glad that I chose this one. Lori Schiller traces the course of her once normal life that suddenly became dominated by the voices, hallucinations, depression, and other debilitating symptoms of schizophrenia. Her prose is rarely striking or poetic but that only highlights the horror of her experiences. Quiet Room is the illuminating and arresting autobiography by a woman who has learned to understand herself and her disease. She gives great insight into a condition that I could never imagine surviving, especially the voices that urge her to kill herself and others day after day. Lori's reflections are punctuated by shorter chapters from the perspectives of her parents and friends. The book thus gives a comprehensive depiction of schizophrenia that is terrifying and saddening, but not without hope. Even though I chose it to increase my knowledge of schizophrenia by the end of the book I wanted to hear more from Lori as a compelling and heroic person, not just as a schizophrenic able to verbalize her symptoms.
Profile Image for Andrea.
278 reviews61 followers
August 16, 2010
"Maybe she would be better off dead." This is the heartbreaking consideration of the parents of Lori Schiller, a woman who, at the age of about 22, begins to exhibit symptoms of schizo-affective disorder. After years and years of treatment, hospitalization, drugs, a halfway house, discharges from facilities and therapy, her parents (and Lori herself) begin to wonder what kind of quality of life she can ever have. This book a collaborative narartive of her life and experience of a debilitating mental illness. It is written by Lori, her parents, brothers, friends, and doctors. The multi-faceted account allows the reader a comprehensive and overwhelming look into what life is like for someone who suffers from this disorder and also the experiences of those around her. It is very well written and insightful. This account was hard to read because of the intensity of her situation. That characteristic, though, only attests to the noxious reality of her experiences. The Quiet Room provides a raw, unique and eye-opening depiction of life dealing with a mental disorder, but it is not altogether pleasant to read.
Profile Image for Patsy.
628 reviews8 followers
February 27, 2016
This was a very hard book to read. Sometimes I wondered if Lori was making up a lot of it, but then again I have never known anyone personally with this disease. The torture her mind put her through is just incredible.

I didn't have a problem with others writing chapters of it, though. It gave more perspective and their voices of what she went through are important.

I admire the fact that Lori was finally able to become independent in her early 30's and get married at 42. She is a public speaker and advocate for the menatlly ill and also is working full-time in that field now. Her experience has proven that this disease can be controlled with a combination of the right medications and a lot of therapy! That is encouraging.

May 27, 2009
A very good book from a person who has experienced the ravages of severe mental illness first-hand. As a person who has experienced paranoid-schizophrenia second-hand through my father, I can say that this book captures the realities of schizophrenia at its best and its worst. My father personally knows Lori Schiller and says she is an amazing woman, though anybody reading this book can see this to be true. A definite read for anybody interested in abnormal psychology or a great story about personal strength.
Profile Image for Amy Chamberlain.
219 reviews1 follower
August 25, 2016
I really enjoy books that let me see what it's like to have a mental illness, and there aren't many such illnesses that so powerfully upset the landscape of the mind as schizophrenia. Having said that, there are other books on the topic that give a much more compelling and clearer picture of that landscape than _The Quiet Room._ Schiller's story is interesting, but she gives too many details in one place and skims over another where I would have wanted to know more. (If you're interested, a much more gripping memoir of life with schizophrenia is _The Center Cannot Hold_ by Elyn Saks.)
Profile Image for A.R. Wilmer.
144 reviews20 followers
December 7, 2016
An overall interesting read. Schiller's voice was clear and poignant and she led us through her dark inner struggle with the Voices that accompanied her case of Schizophrenia.

There were lulls in the novel, but overall I think it was a strong and touching account of her life. I didn't feel like it was as emotional as it could have been, but I also felt like that was a bit of a reflection of the desensitization she felt during her illness.

I also loved the scope it showed—we were able to see how it affected her friends, family, and loved ones, which was very unique.
5 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2015
there are many memoirs on mental illness but this book was a whole new level, I sympathize with Lori's sufferings because it's absolutely horrific what she had to go through, Being a normal girl who was nothing but smart and happy..she did great in school and in college but it didn't stop the illness from swallowing her slowly, and alienating her from everyone ,Not to mention leading her into drug abuse, this book gave me another new perspective on schizophrenia and manic depression.
46 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2016
This was a very interesting read, a real-life account of a young girl who struggles with mental illness. By 17 it beings to escalate and later she is diagnosed with schizophrenia. I appreciated the different chapters written by different people in her life, her mother, father, siblings, doctors, etc. Its important to note this book was written in 1994, I would be interested in reading more about current medical procedures for patients like Lori.
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