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The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  2,786 ratings  ·  408 reviews
An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the "collected schizophrenias" but to those who wish to understand i ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Graywolf Press
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4.28  · 
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 ·  2,786 ratings  ·  408 reviews

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Petal Eggs
Considering that the author had been through the mill herself with many diagnoses for her psychotic states, none quite fitting, until "schizoaffective disorder" and described them in detail, I expected a book that would engender emotion and empathy in me, if not identification. What I got was a cold, dispassionate look at schizophrenia and associated psychoses from many different angles and treatments, including weirdly, astrology, told by an author I couldn't empathise with at all.

This is not a
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the most courageous books I have ever read. In The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang writes about her experience with schizoaffective disorder and Lyme disease. Compared to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, schizophrenia is still so stigmatized, so it is rare and beautiful to read a candid perspective like Wang's. These essays span a wide range of topics relevant to health and illness, ranging from how the mentally ill are institutionalized in a way that removes their ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book reads like a memoir. It possesses a mastery of tone that’s deeply satisfying. I think I may have found a substitute—not a replacement!—for Dr. Oliver Sacks, who was a dreamy writer on subjects neurological. Author Esmé Weijun Wang’s perspective though is that of a patient. She suffers from schizoaffective disorder, which I have just learned has a manic aspect. She has been involuntarily institutionalized three times, and her last psychotic episode in 2013 lasted 7 months. How she comes ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poc-author, favorites
This collection of essays is extraordinary. Through exploring her own experiences with schizophrenia, Wang is able to do a great job of looking at society's views of mental illness and the lack of information and understanding around schizophrenia. That combined with her great explanations of what some of her episodes, her family history, the way it impacts the people around her and more. I want to re-read it immediately.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Esmeralda Weijun Wang wants to be a high functioning individual while she contends with her multiple diagnoses. To understand her ability to concentrate long enough, organize her thoughts to allow her to write these essays, and to seek costly medical and alternative type medical care is to come to the conclusion that she is financially very well off. She is not homeless, going hungry, under or unemployed,lacking facilities for hygiene, etc. As part of her high functioning “mask” she applies Tom ...more
Lisa Vegan
Words that came to my mind when reading this book: Superb. Important. Smart. Interesting. Honest. Thought provoking. Empathy building.

This is a memoir in essays by a woman relating her experience living with schizoaffective disorder, both internal and in the world experiences. She also writes about other ailments and other aspects of her life and her relationships.

The writing and storytelling are great. I love her writing and will check out her other books.

This book is a mix of autobiography,
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Harrowing. Intense. Illuminating. Powerful.
In The Collected Schizofrenias, Esmé tells the story of her life with mental illness and Lyme disease. This feels like an intimate and honest look at what living with schizophrenia can be like. From psychosis to not being taken seriously by medical professionals, each page of this book offers insight into a world that isn't discussed enough. This will be a powerful nonfiction read in 2019.
Kate ☀️ Olson
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. TCS is the most moving account of living with mental illness that I have read to date, and I think that's because it's not trying to convince anyone of anything. Wang wrote essays about her condition and journey, and within these essays, she constantly admits that she is writing about herself and no one else. Her accounts of struggles are hers and not representative of a group of others afflicted with schizoaffective disorder, and even within her writing about chronic Lymes she never s ...more
Katie Long
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A collection of essays about Esme Weijun Wang’s experience living with, among other illnesses, schizoaffective disorder. It’s rare to read about schizophrenia from someone who lives with it, rather than someone who treats or studies these conditions. Her take on the way that patients with schizophrenia are often left out of decisions about their own treatment (which often prioritizes the safety of those around them, rather than the patient herself), is certainly debatable, but is an invaluable p ...more
Paris (parisperusing)
*Goodreads apparently didn't save my review the first time, so here goes it…

If it takes me longer than four days to finish a book of this size, it's because I'm just not into it.

I wanted to binge on this book, I truly did, but my biggest grudge with TCS is that it is a book predicated more on reports and research than anecdotes. With a disorder as obscure as schizophrenia, along with the myriad of other important mental illnesses mentioned, any reader not privy to these disorders is going to nee
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous.

Full review to come!
Peter Mcloughlin
This book covers the author's biographical journey through schizophrenia. What struck me and continues to strike me is the nonrational dimension to ourselves. I am much more immersed in a more rationalistic and materialistic outlook. However, I know that such fine talking primates as ourselves do not have it all figured out. Schizophrenia or in the author's case schizoaffective disorder has afflicted her for much of her adult life and that is a crippling disease not to be romanticized. She talks ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This was tough to rate. Some of the essays were deeply informative and emotional. Some were just .... there. I wish this would have been more a memoir and not essays. It felt disconnected. I feel like three stars is a “mean” rating for someone who wrote a book and has a debilitating mental illness. That author should automatically get six stars because it takes guts and a tremendous amount of mind power to complete a work like this. But I’m sticking with my rating of three. Didn’t love it, didn’ ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding collection of essays about living with schizoaffective disorder and later chronic Lyme disease. Wang provides a glimpse into an existence that is harrowing at times but also so rich and filled with life. She writes about living with a “slippery brain” (a term taken from the last essay, “Beyond the Hedges”) and how to tether herself to reality. A must-read out in February 2019.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, I loved #esmeweijunwang ‘s #thecollectedschizophrenias very much. A series of essays about schizoaffective disorder in the healthcare system, in popular culture, and in the public imagination, the book is also a meditation on Wang’s own diagnosis of, and experiences of the same illness. I love love love that Wang is so actively engaged with her own experiences, and so surrounded by love - I wish this for everyone who shares her diagnosis. I was grateful for Wang’s description of her illnes ...more
I've avoided most personal perspectives of my diagnosis since, well, it was mentioned as my diagnosis but after encountering one of the author's books on Gumroad I became intrigued and it was time, really.

So many mental illness narratives I encountered back when I read them in my teens now feel like they were marketed for the reader's titillation but I felt I could trust this press, could trust a whole book of essays on living with schizoaffective from someone who had written (literary!) books
Brittany | thebookishfiiasco
‘i have been physically lost in a pitch-dark room. there is the ground, which may be nowhere other than immediately below my own numbed feet. those foot-shaped anchors are the only trustworthy landmarks. if i make a wrong move, i’ll have to face the gruesome consequence. in this bleak abyss the key is not to be afraid, because fear, though inevitable, only compounds the awful feeling of being lost.’
this book left me speechless, and yet filled my mind with all the thoughts and feelings, with so
Andrew Unger
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-tbr
Wang opens this tour de force collection with a recitation from the DSM V and a careful meditation on the importance and impact of such deliberate categorizations of subjective mental instabilities. Primarily, Wang focuses on the lack of context given to patients on the purlieus of schizophrenia, those living with the sometimes more devastating diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. With each essay — case studies of her own life juxtaposed against established icons from the canon of mental illne ...more
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Admittedly as a psychiatrist, poetry MFA, and patient myself, my standards for illness narratives are high. But I found myself frustrated throughout these essays by Wang metaphorically putting on makeup by buffering her own experience with mental illness from the reader with giant blocks of DSM quotes, cultural references, and religious research. There were moments when she acknowledged that recollecting periods of psychotic experience can be difficult, if not impossible. But I came away from th ...more
Hannah Fenster
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Schizophrenia terrifies,” warns the first line of The Collected Schizophrenias. Then, despite this caution, it proceeds. Such conviction quickly becomes a pattern over the course of the collection: See the difficult thing. Face it anyway.

With profound compassion and curiosity, Esmé Weijun Wang displays her uncanny ability to write in multiple dimensions, using research, memoir, and pop culture to gather the pieces of a conversation that often feels—at least to me—like a fragile, elusive one. L
Lupita Reads
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Captivating & essential collection of essays. Thankful to Wang for sharing her story with readers.
Rachel Rooney
I read this last month and somehow failed to review it or even mark it as currently reading or read. It was phenomenal. If you are at all interested in reading a moving account of mental illness and functioning with mental illness and working with mental illness, this is it. Esme Weijun Wang was in college when she was first diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. She had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I think right before she went off to Yale. She writes really well, and she ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a deeply necessary book. I can’t think of another personal account of living with serious thought disorder that is this clear-eyed and complex.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Camelia Rose
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This 200 pages book contains 13 essays from the author's firsthand experience of mental illness. Esme Weijun Wang was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age of 18, and 10 years later, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. During her chronic illness, she also suffered dysautonomia and other mental disorders such as PTSD, and later diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease. The book is organized loosely chronically, started from her initial diagnosis and ended at the time of writing this book.

May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Insightful, didactic and heartrending

It is through this collection of moving essays that Esmé Weijun Wang tries to rectify the various misconceptions people have concerning mental illnesses.

Review to come!
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
beautifully written and so accurate in its description of living with mental illness as well as chronic illness. such a great read.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Collected Schizophrenias is a brilliantly written collection of essays about what it's like to live with a schizoaffective disorder. Schizophrenia is easily the most misunderstood mental health condition, and while no one experience can be taken as the one example of how that illness impacts everyone who has it, Esmé Weijun Wang does much to demystify what it is like to live with this disorder. Her writing is very candid and feels like it comes from a deeply personal place. It really opened ...more
Natalie (CuriousReader)
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, eloquent and startling, searing and honest, critical and powerful - how many adjectives can I use to describe this book?

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Esmé Weijun Wang is an award-winning mental health advocate and speaker, as well as a journalist and essayist. The Border of Paradise is her first novel. Just announced as the winner of the 2016 Graywolf Press Non-Fiction Prize for her book of essays, The Collected Schizophrenias. She lives in San Francisco.
“A fictional narrative is considered nuanced when it includes contradictions, but a narrative of trauma is ill-advised to do the same.” 5 likes
“We mistake just feelings as feelings for love," a friend once told me.” 4 likes
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