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The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  6,964 ratings  ·  926 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 ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Graywolf Press
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  6,964 ratings  ·  926 reviews


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Petra-X
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
...more
Thomas
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
Rincey
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.

Watch my full review here: https://youtu.be/bsTVgeDhWvA
William2
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
Paltia
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
Hannah
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely, perfectly loved this book. The first essay took me a while because Wang gets fairly technical in her introduction to her personality disorder in a way that wasn't easily accessible to me - but this basis is indeed needed. It grounds her book into a reality that helped me to put things into perspective in a way that I found highly effective and helpful. Esmé Weijun Wang has Schizoaffective Disorder and discusses her life and her illness through her own personal lense but always ...more
Julie Ehlers
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Early on in The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang points out that, as a culture, we seem to focus more on how schizophrenia makes us (i.e., non-afflicted people) feel than on how people with schizophrenia themselves might feel. I immediately recognized the truth of this sentiment. Isn't it the case that the whole thing freaks us out a bit? Isn't it the case that we tend to assume people with schizophrenic disorders might not know what is best for them? Wang thankfully turns this entire ...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,
...more
C
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 ...more
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 ...more
Lisa
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, audiobook
There aren't enough first person accounts of mental illness and even fewer books that combine the author's own experience with an analytical approach. Wang has unusual insight into her own illness and uses her sharp intellect to discuss mental illness from the perspective of a researcher. She takes a pragmatic approach - looking at any solutions that might help herself and others. Wang is quite accomplished and has found a way to work around her devastating "schizophrenias." She does have a ...more
Hanna
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.
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 ...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
...more
Jessica Woodbury
Sometimes you read a piece of personal nonfiction and learn a whole bunch of new things. But sometimes you also change the way you look at the world and other people. This is one of those books. My views on mental health have been shaped mostly by Anxiety and Depression and how they've impacted me and many people in my life. I haven't given Schizophrenia a lot of thought for many reasons, and as I read this book it seemed like Wang hit every single one of them. All the ways in which we have ...more
Jessie
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 ...more
Samantha Colwell
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
A well-written, yet aloof look into the schizophrenias. I’m listening to the audiobook right now and cringing through it. Though Esme is obviously an intelligent and eloquent author, I find myself rolling my eyes too frequently at her glaring privilege. I thought I was being harsh, but I’m glad to know after perusing some other reviews that I’m not alone.

How often Esme talks about people pitying her for her suffering while she describes her Marc Jacobs perfume is too privileged a window into
...more
Melissa
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.
Emily
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous.

Full review to come!
Mari
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019

A moving and interesting collection of essays on a subject I personally had never read about and that is cloaked in a bigger societal taboo.

Why you might not like it: It's nonfiction, for one. It is also difficult to read and I think it would especially be tricky for people who might find this kind of candid discussion of mental illness triggering. There were moments when her story very much overwhelmed me, so I would also say that being in the right headspace for a more serious, sometime
...more
Amy
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
Lauren
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I'm still trying to figure out what 'okay' is, particularly whether there exists a normal version of myself beneath the disorder... I was taught to say I am a person with schizoaffective disorder. 'Person-first language' suggests there is a person in there somewhere without delusions and the rambling and the catatonia.
But what if there isn't?"


From 'Yale Will Not Save You' (essay) in THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS by Esmé Weijun Wang / 2019 by @graywolfpress

In thirteen essays, Wang shares glimpses
...more
Peter (Pete) 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
Crystal
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
...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first two essays were quite technical and I suspected this would not be for me but then Wang opened the collection right up and intimately and generously offered insights into her mental health. As a portrait of an unquiet mind, this book wields power and purpose. Wang’s self aware observations of how society marginalises the mentally ill were particularly revealing.
Petra
This might be the best book I have read so far this year. More coherent thoughts coming at some point because I am basically speechless right now.
Anna
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: @DRMacIver on twitter
‘The Collected Schizophrenias’ is a collection of coolly elegant essays on the subject of schizoaffective disorder. It reads well with The Heartland: Finding and Losing Schizophrenia, another recent short book on the subject. Although the two differ markedly in tone and structure, they both seem to have the aim of demystifying and personalising schizophrenia so that it becomes less of a terrifying and misunderstood abstraction. I learned a great deal from both books. Wang’s essays tell her ...more
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
...more
Michael Livingston
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Some scintillating essays and some that fell a bit flat for me. Wonderful writing and clear insights from someone living with chronic disease - it's great to get the perspective of someone going through this.
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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.
“Among psychiatric researchers, having a job is considered one of the major characteristics of being a high-functioning person. ... Most critically, a capitalist society values productivity in its citizens above all else, and those with severe mental illness are much less likely to be productive in ways considered valuable: by adding to the cycle of production and profit.” 9 likes
“A fictional narrative is considered nuanced when it includes contradictions, but a narrative of trauma is ill-advised to do the same.” 8 likes
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