The Silver Linings Playbook The Silver Linings Playbook question


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Question for those who have already read the book
Shannon Shannon Sep 21, 2012 01:35PM
I just finished the book and am not sure whether Pat's mental illness/neural dysfunction was caused by the blow to the head when Nikki hit him? I know he lost it when he saw her with the other guy, but I wasn't sure if that was the whole problem or if he had a brain injury, too? And on that note, was Nikki really awful (as Pat's family and friends believe) or was he an awful husband (as he suggests)and she had an affair because of that? Interesting book. I liked it.



@Shannon~ I struggled with the portrayal of mental illness through most of the book. I mean, Pat coached 3 sports, ran a history department at a high school, etc before "apart time." But when we meet Pat he seems to struggle to understand basic concepts (describing his bathing ritual- putting on "under arm deodorant" and walking through the mist of his dad's cologne.)Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder will not decrease your mental capacity and certainly not to the extent described in the book. Upon getting to the end and learning about him being hit over the head and striking his head on the facet, it made much more sense to me. What we see in the book is Pat relearning daily living activities and socialization due to a traumatic brain injury. So to me it makes much more sense Pat having both mental illness and TBI.

M 25x33
Juan Yes i agree it is very unclear i wasn't sure either what happened to him but yeah it was caused to to a hit on the head that's which was one of the ma ...more
Jun 10, 2013 10:16AM · flag

I watched the movie first and really thought it was a bipolar disorder but after reading the book and finding out he was hit over the head I am pretty sure it was a brain injury that put him where he was for that many years. I have a son who suffered a head injury and I can not express enough how much I could identify with Pat's character and his struggles. In fact, my son saw this movie and came home to say it was like watching his life on screen, especially the yelling and the screaming, which is saying a lot when he can identify with it.

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spring-time This surprises me a bit since the Pat character in the movie seams to suffer only from a mental disorder and not from a brain injury. He isnt as "chil ...more
Jun 01, 2013 01:32AM · flag

Shannon wrote: "I just finished the book and am not sure whether Pat's mental illness/neural dysfunction was caused by the blow to the head when Nikki hit him? I know he lost it when he saw her with the other guy..."
Exactly ! I agree with you ! Nikki was the worst which has happened in Pat's entire life and it lead him to this mental disorder... I think ;)


Shannon wrote: "I just finished the book and am not sure whether Pat's mental illness/neural dysfunction was caused by the blow to the head when Nikki hit him? I know he lost it when he saw her with the other guy..."

He had a brain injury. It's unclear if the injury is from Nicci hitting him in the head, or him hitting his head on the shower faucet when he fell.
He was in a ward where all the patients suffered from brain injuries.

Also, In my opinion. Nicci was the bad guy not Pat. Maybe Pat wasn't th best husband, but Nicci cheated on him and that is far worse betrayal than we hear about from Pat. Pat just didn't have anything in common with her, divorce probably should have happened, cheating is rarely excusable. If Nicci was so unhappy she should have left, at the very least, she should NEVER EVER EVER have sex with another man in the house that belongs to her and her actual husband. In my opinion, she was a drama queen.


I think losing someone can really messed up your mental state,confuse in making casual day-to-day decision (retarded-like), and altered you into this other person who's trying hard to be kind and not right (exactly like Pat), because of the self-blaming of what has happened in his life. My interpretation is that the scene where he caught his wife bathing with that little guy, Phillip, creates a deep shock that invaded his sanity. Either the blow really has anything to do with his brain-nerves system,am not sure,but we know that the scar created an itch in his forehead and there's a trauma that makes Pat automatically hid the bad memories.

As years of therapy with Dr.Timbers (pessimistic preachin') and meds going on at the "bad place", surely has other impact and side effects created in Pat's head that even made it harder to accept the reality of Nikki,and their marriage (all the apart time, the silver linings and being a better man).


Pat seems to struggle with bipolar disorder with manic features. The author does a wonderful job describing his mental illness in a respectful and not stigmatizing way. I believe he had traits before the incident. He seemed to have outbursts of anger, and other things that lead to believe he was already having issues. He admits on not being the nicest guy to Nikki (and she didn't seem to be very nice to him either). I think they were just not a good match.

The incident and the blow on the head may have caused some damage, and exacerbated some of his traits. I loved this book. I loved his relentless desire to find silver linings to his story in despite of all the negative circumstances around him.


It sounded more like a psychiatric hospital to me, but then again I have no clue, because this entire scenario would be very unlikely if he were deemed unfit to stand trial, or not guilty due to mental defect. He would still be sitting in the hospital because doctors are worried about more incidents from an insane/ill patient(due to liability).

The thing that bugged me was that he came off as mentally retarded more than mentally ill/diseased. I also didn't like the sudden appearance of God delusions, although that made me think of Schizophrenia and possibly paranoid Schizophrenia, although that was more in the movie than the book (I can't remember if they mentioned him worrying that Nikki an the man she was cheating with were out to get him). But there are other random symptoms of OCD (working out and obsession with routines and body image) and bipolar, although he doesn't have a traceable cycle of up/down that you should see in bipolar, even if it isn't rapid cycling bipolar. It seems like he lacks impulse control, which could be ADHD or something similar, and possibly just a general anxiety disorder, but none of these are actually consistent. So I suppose that would justify the brain damage, however, again, the medication wouldn't do anything about it. If it's structural, medicine can't fix it.

However, his father appears to have anger management issues, and a history of mental illness could mean he is mentally ill too. So I really don't know.

This honestly makes me wonder if the author truly understands abnormal psychology and how the psychology/psychiatry field works. Especially since he was on an abnormally large amount of medications that seemed to not add up at all (you tend to be assigned the minimal amount needed for a diagnosed problem and add sparingly, because the interactions and side effects can be bad). He also had a borderline malpractice relationship with his "therapist," who would know better than drinking with him (especially since he's on meds!) and encouraging a relationship outside of the office and official therapy. That's highly unethical and no real psychologist/psychiatrist would do that, because they could lose their license.

And don't get me started on Tiffany. I don't know what she is supposed to have wrong (Depression? Histrionic?) but she randomly has the God delusions too and I just don't get it. I say that they're delusions because neither of them appear to be religious at all, but then they start talking about God and feeling specially chosen by God at the end, so it's odd.


This was one of the best books I've ever read. I am afraid to see the movie, fearing it will disappoint. I think Pat's problems resulted in the brain injury he sustained when he fell in the bathroom. Obviously, he snapped when he was his wife with the guy, but, like other posters said, he maintained a steady job and integrated well enough before "away time." When he returned, he was more socially inept.

One thing that showed me this was his reaction to the demolition of the old Vet stadium in Philadelphia. Had he been functionally capable while in the rehab facility, surely, he'd have known the Eagles built a new stadium. That was a tear-inducing moment when I read this book and I realized Matthew Quick was an amazing story teller.


He had issues before the incident, though the head injury is what brought him to the institution from what I understood.


At the beginning of the movie they say that Pat is bipolar but I think this is one of the many changes the movies makes to the original story.
The symptoms described in the book (his struggle to understand basic concepts, his difficulties to express himself)have nothing to do with being bipolar, which is a mood disorder and doesn't make you mentally retarded, so we can assume they were probably related to the blow to the head that he received from Nikki.


i read the book then the movie came out and i watched it. i think that he was violent but not a badf husband and when he saw his wife cheating on him he snapped but then felt so ashamed that he had to suppress the memory.


deleted member Aug 08, 2013 01:42AM   0 votes
Shannon wrote: "I just finished the book and am not sure whether Pat's mental illness/neural dysfunction was caused by the blow to the head when Nikki hit him? I know he lost it when he saw her with the other guy..."
Those are good Questions. I don't believe bipolar can be caused by a blow to the head. I have a lot of experience In the area, both from family history and having worked As a registered nurse in the ICU, spending some time in the neurological ICU also. However, traumatic brain injures can cause severe shifts in mood.
In both the book and the movie I had a sense that Nikki may have had a problem with Pat's mood swings, post affair and post head bashing.


I don't think the book ever made it entirely clear....it seems like he was fine (mentally) before catching Nikki cheating on him. I think the blow to the head caused some of his mental issues, in conjunction with him suppressing the memory of what happened as a means to protect himself, because he couldn't deal with the reality of his situation. I also think that he developed violent tendencies where he was unable to control his outbursts...by the look of what he did to Nikki's lover, i'd say maybe he already had that problem and it went untreated for a long time (remember how he also knocked out the Giants fan?).

As for who was the "bad" person...I think they were bad for each other, which in turn brought out their worst selves. Nikki had been having an affair with someone who constantly put down Pat's intelligence, and she also took all of his assets, leaving him with nothing, after the incident. That alone made her a pretty unlikable character for me.

On the flip side, I completely believe everything Pat said about himself...meaning I don't think he was lying to himself or the reader. I think he disregarded what Nikki wanted, never complemented her, criticized her often (like when she gave him the picture of herself as a present), and probably was overly aggressive/violent/emotionally abusive in some ways. Since we only get to know Pat after he spent 4 years in a mental institution and is a changed man, we can't really know for sure....but I assume he had to be pretty bad to warrant all that happened. I don't think violent outburst like that (he very nearly killed that guy!) just come out of nowhere.

Great book, love how developed the characters of Pat and Tiffany are and how we can discuss them in such detail like this :)


deleted member Dec 29, 2012 05:59PM   0 votes
I'm really sorry for bringing such an irrelevant topic up, but I really need help. Does anyone remember the word or phrase in the movie that Pat used. It meant saying positive, or something along those lines. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could refresh my memory. Thanks!


i just finished the book and pat is a little bit seems like me :)and i like his crazy reactions


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