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This title in other editions

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

by

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness Cover

ISBN13: 9781401309442
ISBN10: 1401309445
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Elyn Saks is a success by any measure: she's an endowed professor at the prestigious University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She has managed to achieve this in spite of being diagnosed as schizophrenic and given a "grave" prognosis--and suffering the effects of her illness throughout her life.

Saks was only eight, and living an otherwise idyllic childhood in sunny 1960s Miami, when her first symptoms appeared in the form of obsessions and night terrors. But it was not until she reached Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar that her first full-blown episode, complete with voices in her head and terrifying suicidal fantasies, forced her into a psychiatric hospital.

Saks would later attend Yale Law School where one night, during her first term, she had a breakdown that left her singing on the roof of the law school library at midnight. She was taken to the emergency room, force-fed antipsychotic medication, and tied hand-and-foot to the cold metal of a hospital bed. She spent the next five months in a psychiatric ward.

So began Saks's long war with her own internal demons and the equally powerful forces of stigma. Today she is a chaired professor of law who researches and writes about the rights of the mentally ill. She is married to a wonderful man.

In The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks discusses frankly and movingly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, and the voices in her head insisting she do terrible things, as well as the many obstacles she overcame to become the woman she is today. It is destined to become a classic in the genre.

Synopsis:

Saks managed to achieve both professional and personal success in spite of being diagnosed as schizophrenic and given a "grave" prognosis. In this memoir, she frankly and movingly discusses the disease, and the treatments that helped her to cope and thrive.

Synopsis:

Elyn R. Saks is an esteemed professor, lawyer, and psychiatrist and is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Law School, yet she has suffered from schizophrenia for most of her life, and still has ongoing major episodes of the illness. THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD is the eloquent, moving story of Elyn's life, from the first time that she heard voices speaking to her as a young teenager, to attempted suicides in college, through learning to live on her own as an adult in an often terrifying world. Saks discusses frankly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, the voices in her head telling her to kill herself (and to harm others); as well the incredibly difficult obstacles she overcame to become a highly respected professional. This beautifully written memoir is destined to become a classic in its genre.

The title is a line from "The Second Coming," a poem by William Butler Yeats, which is alluded to in the book.

About the Author

Elyn R. Saks is Associate Dean and Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Gould Law School, an expert in mental health law and a Mac¬Arthur Foundation Fellowship winner. She graduated from Oxford as a Marshall Scholar and received her J.D. from Yale Law School. She has published three books and more than two dozen articles, and serves on the board of several mental health foundations. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Will Vinet.

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

crowyhead, September 8, 2009 (view all comments by crowyhead)
I found this memoir to be truly impressive. There are many memoirs that detail the experience of depression and bipolar disorder. There are memoirs on alcoholism, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But there are very few that give the reader insight into what it is like to be schizophrenic.

Elyn Saks is an accomplished woman: she graduated from Oxford and Yale, and is a tenured law professor. She has also struggled with schizophrenia since her late teens, and relates her experiences in such a way that the reader will never think of schizophrenia in the same way again.

People tend to think of schizophrenics and dangerous, incoherent, low-functioning, "just plain crazy." Saks has been all of those things (although mainly she was a danger to herself), but only a small percentage of the time. Most of the time, she is at least as sane as the people around her, sometimes moreso.

The prose here is mainly pretty workmanlike, but Saks does a good job of expressing what it feels like to be having psychotic thoughts and feelings, as well as the experience of being hospitalized and living with the stigma of mental illness. She is a big proponent of psychoanalysis, which is a form of talk therapy that I'm personally leery of, but she does make a good case for the effectiveness of talk therapy in conjunction with medication for those with thought disorders as well as mood disorders (for a very long time, it was thought that talk therapy was basically useless for those who have thought disorders like schizophrenia). Recommended.
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Annie Wright, March 30, 2009 (view all comments by Annie Wright)
I work in the court system, and see a good number of involuntary commitment cases, most of which feature individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. So many of these cases come through, and it is easy to become jaded and indifferent toward people living with this illness. Thankfully, Saks wrote this book. Her story is incredible, and her ability to relate and explain what goes through her head during episodes is remarkable. I don't like to throw the word "inspiring" around, but her story is just that.

Ultimately, however, I was overwhelmed by the book's central message: how many more resources mentally ill people truly need. Saks has managed to control her illness and succeed enormously despite (and, perhaps in some ways, because of) it. However, as she admits, she had so many resources and so much support to help her get through it--and even with that, it took her decades to gain some control over her illness.

In all events, this is a truly eye-opening book that deserves a large readership.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Elizabeth Romero, March 16, 2009 (view all comments by Elizabeth Romero)
An amazing book of such courage and inspiration..
given that I myself have a mental illness and am constantly trying to stay afloat.. on the boat ..this book means a lot ..
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781401309442
Subtitle:
My Journey Through Madness
Author:
Saks, Elyn R
Author:
Saks, Elyn R.
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Subject:
Social Scientists & Psychologists
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Scientists & Psychologists
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Psychopathology - Schizophrenia
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
TradePB
Publication Date:
20080812
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 8 up to 17
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8 x 5.1875 in 10.4 oz
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Biography » General
Biography » Social Scientists and Psychologists
Biography » Women
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General Disorders
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Psychopathology » Schizophrenia
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness New Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Hyperion - English 9781401309442 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Saks managed to achieve both professional and personal success in spite of being diagnosed as schizophrenic and given a "grave" prognosis. In this memoir, she frankly and movingly discusses the disease, and the treatments that helped her to cope and thrive.
"Synopsis" by , Elyn R. Saks is an esteemed professor, lawyer, and psychiatrist and is the Orrin B. Evans Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at the University of Southern California Law School, yet she has suffered from schizophrenia for most of her life, and still has ongoing major episodes of the illness. THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD is the eloquent, moving story of Elyn's life, from the first time that she heard voices speaking to her as a young teenager, to attempted suicides in college, through learning to live on her own as an adult in an often terrifying world. Saks discusses frankly the paranoia, the inability to tell imaginary fears from real ones, the voices in her head telling her to kill herself (and to harm others); as well the incredibly difficult obstacles she overcame to become a highly respected professional. This beautifully written memoir is destined to become a classic in its genre.

The title is a line from "The Second Coming," a poem by William Butler Yeats, which is alluded to in the book.

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