Monday, 16 March 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: My journey through madness. Review by Michael Trifourkis

Most people associate schizophrenia with a life of misery, isolation and suffering. Yet as Elyn Saks narrates her journey through madness, the reader becomes aware that here is no ordinary person. She showed that with determination, courage, academic discipline and a loving relationship that this awful illness need not be so permanently debilitating.

Elyn describes her terrible symptoms in great detail and with brutal honesty. Her turbulent behaviour and outrageous dialogue with her talk therapist Mrs. Jones stands out vividly and yet despite illness Elyn achieved a master’s degree at Oxford. Later, despite psychosis, she became a law professor after studying at Yale. She famously said that her brain was her best friend but also her worst enemy.

Elyn Saks writes with precision and passion avoiding academic or medical jargon, making the book easy to read. The reader is gripped by how she endured her constant setbacks, due to her hatred of taking medication. Finally, she accepted the undeniable fact that she had a mental illness and that changed everything for her. 

In a world where there is so much stigma, Elyn continues to stress that “illness of any kind need not define an individual”. Her candid and brave autobiography has made her a celebrity and has given hope to fellow sufferers. 

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