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The Heartland: Finding and Losing Schizophrenia

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,577 ratings  ·  172 reviews
This book has been republished with the title, This Book Will Change Your Mind About Mental Health: A journey into the heartland of psychiatry.

Schizophrenia: whether it's the associations it conjures or the people it brings to mind, it is a word we all have a view on. How we perceive it—and how we treat people living with it—is at the core of how we understand mental healt
Published June 6th 2019 by Faber Faber (first published June 4th 2019)
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Petra: all work & no play makes you poor.On hiatus
This book has definitely changed my way of thinking. Although it is ostensibly about schizophrenia, it is just as much about all other mental illnesses. The most interesting part of the book was the critique of the DSM.

All entries in the DSMV are by committee. So one year 1996 It was agreed that homosexuality was a mental illness, in 1997 they thought differently and it was removed. Also in 1996 there was female masochistic syndrome, ie. if you get beaten up you were asking for it. Thanks to the
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental-health
"Schizophrenia is derived from the Greek skhizen, 'to split', and phren, 'mind'."

"The overwhelming majority of psychiatric diagnoses aren't arrived by looking at blood tests or anything of the sort. Rather, it is the words people say - or do not say - as interpreted by professionals, that as much as anything else will determine a diagnosis."

What would you do when your mind 'takes over'?

Or, maybe the key question will be, what would you do when the mind of someone you love is not in their control
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After the tragicomic genius of Mr Filer's debut novel, The Shock of the Fall, about a young boys struggles with schizophrenia and possibly modelled around his own experiences, he now moves on to write a non-fiction work which actively debunks the myths and downright lies told about those who suffer from it. I have to start by saying that I have no first-hand experience of this mental illness myself, and I don't know anyone who has the condition, but I am endlessly intrigued by lots of topics and ...more
I read the first 58 pages. Filer was completely unprepared when he arrived to work in a psychiatric hospital outside Bristol. This book is a record of what he learned: about the history of schizophrenia as a diagnosis, its social stigma, and the experience of living it via speaking to patients and hearing their stories. I read the first of those stories, about Erica, a fashion journalist who became so paranoid that she was being hunted down for committing unwitting crimes that she tried to commi ...more
Sarah Connor
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First of all, "The Shock of the Fall" made me cry - proper, ugly crying. It was such a powerful book. That meant I was really excited to read Nathan Filer's latest book. Secondly, I'm a Child Psychiatrist, so I know a bit about this stuff, so I was interesting to see how he approached the topic of schizophrenia.

I loved this book. Filer covers all the current controversies in the exploration of schizophrenia in an accurate and accessible way. It's extremely readable, and he has the ability to ta
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I knew very little about schizophrenia before reading ‘The Heartland’, other than a fact from Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche: that those diagnosed with it have better outcomes in developing countries than developed. Filer mentions this while acknowledging that his focus is on the UK. The book is structured around a series of case studies of schizophrenia sufferers, which are recounted in a sensitive and moving fashion. Between and within them, Filer discusses the uncerta ...more
Eddie Clarke
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well-written and really enlightening discussion of the issues around our current understanding of schizophrenia: what it is; it’s diagnosis; and it’s treatment.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, informative, accessible read

I find it almost a shame that the title of this book refers specifically to so called 'Schizophrenia', when it is in fact a valuable read which applies to - I think - all areas of mental health difficulties.
Jargon is explained, the tone is professional and approachable, with some humour and humbleness - making this book accessible to a whole range of readers.
The thoughts, feelings, opinions and research of a wide range of professionals, those with lived e
Paul Ataua
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well worth reading for the fantastic revelatory interviews and the telling critiques of the DMS. Those critiques should be enough to make us suspicious about the whole validity of psychiatry. Puzzling, however, is the fact that the author discloses so much and yet still seems to support the system and the practice. He seems comfortable with electroconvulsive therapy (brain toasting) and the use of medications (most often mind straitjackets) without consent. Quite rightly he puts ‘so called’ in i ...more
Lyndsey Jenkins
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Will probably be the most important book I read this year. Filer was able to articulate my own sense of unease about the lack of attention we pay to inequality, poverty, and exclusion in causing mental illness as well as the pointlessness of well meaning attempts to ‘talk about it’ if there’s no actual support available. Very well written and accessible and so much empathy for the various individuals whose stories are told here.
I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book had a really profound effect on me. Whilst I work in the mental health field, I tend to see people on the lower end of the scale. Those who suffer with anxiety and depression. Schizophrenia is not something I would typically work with and as such know very little about.

I read Filer's debut novel The Shock of the Fall a few years back and really enjoyed it. So when I saw that he had a non-fiction book out which foll
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This book was fascinating. I often find reading books about mental illness quite difficult - as someone who struggles myself with my mental health, books and essays on the topic can sometimes leave me feeling misrepresented or frustrated or judged. And yes, this book left me feeling frustrated, but not in the way that the topic was explored, rather with the issues in the systems that are used to deal with mental health, and has inspired me to continue to campaign for better support.

This was a co
Jessica Smith
The book didn't change my mind about mental health. Perhaps there were a few eye-openers (it was interesting to read about how anti-psychotic medication actually works) but it wasn't a book full of revelations, which given the title I had expected. ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Good but flawed. The parts where the author interviews people were hugely interesting and I would have loved a book full of them. There were two things that dragged this down, unfortunately:

1) the tone was unnecessarily informal. The jokes about Ant and Dec just seemed pointless and made it seem like the author wasn’t taking his job seriously.

2) the analysis of the interviews got quite tedious towards the end and increasingly disconnected from the interviews. More human experiences would have b
May 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: three-star
An intriguing discussion around mental health, and more specifically - schizophrenia by a mental health nurse who has first hand experience of patients living with it.

I thought this was a well written and thorough look at how and why schizophrenia presents itself. The author draws on his own patients experiences and observations throughout his career thus far. I felt some pages waffled on a bit too much and didn’t add much to the overall progression of the book. I found myself glossing over som
magdalena dyjas
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, 4.5*. I just wish this book was longer (what Filer shows us is just a tip of the iceberg). But I'm going to recommend it to my work colleagues nonetheless (we are working with young people with complex trauma, and I think this book could be really helpful in our day to day interactions with those young people (and with each other)). ...more
Renita D'Silva
Aug 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking
Hannah Wingfield
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book: well-written (with a little humour here and there), backs up its claims with research and covers an interesting topic. Nathan Filer is a mental health nurse and uses schizophrenia as the starting point to look at various issues within mental health and its treatment, by combining personal accounts with related discussion. It's particularly interesting that he chooses to look both at the conventional, Western view of mental health and its treatment and views more aligned with t ...more
Catherine Barter
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I loved this. It's quite gentle and open in tone rather than a furious indictment of anything in particular, but does a good job laying out how complex the diagnosis and treatment of so-called schizophrenia is. (Borrowing the 'so-called' from Filer, who makes a good case for 'schizophrenia' not really existing as a fixed and knowable condition at all, and perhaps being better understood on a spectrum.) And it's really good on the complicated relationship between psychosis and delusions and peopl ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would strongly recommend this for anyone - well okay, everyone - who has limited contact with psychosis mental health illnesses and services. Filer strips back so many of the myths - that medication is always worth it; that sane and insane are distinct states; that diagnoses are meaningful, that caring for the mentally ill is rewarding and done with joy - here with empathy and humour, making the read feel rich and easy despite very difficult subject matter. Perhaps, however, if like me you hav ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a former psychiatric nurse myself I found this a profoundly moving and thought provoking book. Professionally it was always easier to stick a label on a patient in the hope that the treatment plan automatically set out for them would result in the desired removal of all evidence of an illness. This book has helped me to re evaluate that perception and wonder why I had to categorise everything in such bland, black and white teens as ‘ill or well.’
Thomas Lau
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This has been super important in helping me to understand some mental health issues related to people first and foremost, and to the not so sturdy world of diagnosis and medication. My words aren’t doing this justice, but this book has changed my perspective on things to be that bit more encompassing and that bit less judgemental.
Afifa Afreen
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book was both educational and eye opening. I loved this book so so so so much
Allison Clough
A brilliant book dispelling myths around so-called schizophrenia and exploring criticisms of psychiatry. I didn't expect to learn anything new, but was pleasantly surprised by the exploration of the history of "anti-psychotic" drugs and how some of the physical "symptoms" associated with madness in popular culture are actually side-effects of medication. I would have given the book five stars, but felt it was missing an exploration of so-called schizophrenia in other cultures. The author acknowl ...more
Debbi Barton
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work
I want to give this book 100 million 🌟 ⭐!

I have the greatest of respect to Nathan Filer, he was a CPN serving on the front line of caring for people with schizophrenia and has taken caring and compassion to whole new level. He is what I aspire to be!

If you are scared of schizophrenics or schizophrenia, think they should be all locked up (sorry a quote from someone), have a vague interest in mental health, work in mental health, are a carer for someone with schizophrenia, then this book is a MUST
Amy Moore
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of hearing Nathan speak at the RCN last year. In addition to giving insight into different peoples experiences with so-called schizophrenia, this book continues conversations we need to have about possibly over-used biomedical approaches to mental health. What could we be doing better? In general nursing, mental health patients are burdened by stigma and anyone with a label of psychosis even more so. I’ve taken a lot from this book and will continue to develop how I can suppor ...more
For a book by a non-schizophrenic on the topic I was happy to find this engaging, schizophrenics felt like people and not like problems to be medicated or shut away. What I'm still thinking about is the history of anti-psychotics, their initial use as anesthetics, then as tranquilizers, then rebranded. Then the author floated the idea that they could be the thing causing brain shrinkage in schizophrenics which I found alarming, but it just feels like you either live with symptoms or. . . ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any time I read a book exploring mental health, I'm always slightly dubious about bias and personal experience as there is a risk of generalising. But here, Nathan Filer explores so-called schizophrenia with such raw honesty, detail and real life stories that it was impossible to stop thinking about. We. Need. More. Books. Like. This. One. ...more
Nov 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book tied up a lot of the stuff I have been going over in my head for a while around the problems with psychiatry and drugs. Lots of stuff that I already knew/thought (which was great as I felt validated), but the focus on so-called schizophrenia gave me a new perspective on psychosis, and I thought Filer wrote with compassion and empathy in his case studies.
I'll be recommending this.
Kathleen Ritchie
Jun 22, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Wow what a book! Loved the style of writing which was empathetic, warm, reflective and any complex health information etc was explained in a more straight forward way. As a mental health social worker the book has really made me think twice about schizophrenia and how we see/support people struggling with psychosis.
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Nathan Filer is a writer and lecturer in creative writing. His stand-up poetry has been a regular fixture at festivals and spoken-word events across the UK and has been broadcast on BBC 3 television and radio 4, 7, and 5 Live. He is also a BBC Best New Filmmaker and holds an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University. He lives in Bristol with his partner and their daughter.

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  The glint of fangs in the dark, the sound of tap-tap-tapping at your window, the howling of wind (or is it just wind?) in the trees...that's...
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“It’s not always possible to find the right words but we can still be part of the conversation. We can walk with people for a bit, sit with them, hear them.” 0 likes
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