Carla-Anne, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Carla-Anne)
What an amazing journey - I greatly appreciate the "reality" of madness. Elyn has explicitly drawn a clear and scary image of what mental illness looks and feels like from a patients perspective. This is not theory - or recollection of what a patient may have been experiencing - I encourage everyone to take a ride of a lifetime.
kristinb, March 4, 2008 (view all comments by kristinb)
You will devour this book, because it is so good and enthralling. Elyn Saks is an amazing woman with an amazing story! I have shared this book with many family and friends and we all love it. Not only is this book completely accessible to people who don't know anything about mental illness, it is also a source of hope for people who have mental illness, and schizophrenia in particular. The parallels between my life as someone who also has schizophrenia and Ms. Saks' life are quite interesting. I found that her story rings very true even though her story is somewhat different than my own. I am so glad that she wrote this book. You will never think of another schizophrenic person the same way again after you have read this book. Buy it and read it! You won't be sorry!
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Deborah Fochler, August 29, 2007 (view all comments by Deborah Fochler)
enlightening, brutally honest yet compassionate and hopeful look at this extraordinary persons battle with her demons. When she could have spent the rest of her life in an institution she has triumphed and reached out to the millions of mentally ill in this country offering them help and insight. A much needed biography.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"In this engrossing memoir, Saks, a professor of psychiatry at U.C. San Diego, demonstrates a novelist's skill of creating character, dialogue and suspense. From her extraordinary perspective as both expert and sufferer (diagnosis: 'Chronic paranoid schizophrenia with acute exacerbation'; prognosis: 'Grave'), Saks carries the reader from the early 'little quirks' to the full blown 'falling apart, flying apart, exploding' psychosis. 'Schizophrenia rolls in like a slow fog,' as Saks shows, 'becoming imperceptibly thicker as time goes on.' Along the way to stability (treatment, not cure), Saks is treated with a pharmacopeia of drugs and by a chorus of therapists. In her jargon-free style, she describes the workings of the drugs ('getting med-free,' a constant motif) and the ideas of the therapists and physicians (psychologist, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, cardiologist, endocrinologist). Her personal experience of a world in which she is both frightened and frightening is graphically drawn and leads directly to her advocacy of mental patients' civil rights as they confront compulsory medication, civil commitment, the abuse of restraints and 'the absurdities of the mental care system.' She is a strong proponent of talk therapy ('While medication had kept me alive, it had been psychoanalysis that helped me find a life worth living'). This is heavy reading, but Saks's account will certainly stand out in its field." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by Oliver Sacks, M.D., author of Awakenings and Musicophilia,
"Schizophrenia is an ominous word — and we too often equate it with a life of misery, isolation, and psychotic torment. I know of no better corrective to this than The Center Cannot Hold, a detailed memoir of how, with medication, sensitive support (and, in Professor Saks's case, psychoanalysis), a deeply schizophrenic person can achieve a life full of creative work and love and friendships. It is the most lucid and hopeful memoir of living with schizophrenia I have ever read."
by Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon,
"In The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks describes with precision and passion the tribulations of living with schizophrenia, and conjures in explicit detail a world that has gone unseen for far too long. In narrating her own capacity for success in the face of the illness, she holds out a beacon of hope for those who suffer with psychosis."
by Robert A. Burt, professor of law, Yale Law School,
"An extraordinary, gripping account of Saks's struggle with mental illness — she refutes fearful prejudices and demonstrates the respect deserved by all people with serious mental illness."
"The extraordinary story of how an extraordinary human being responded to adversity, not once, but over and over and over again." Lissy Jarvik, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA
by Leo Rangell, honorary president, International Psychoanalytic Association,
"A remarkable narrative of a lived life — as profoundly provocative as it is satisfying, it is to be read and savored."
"The Center Cannot Hold should be read by anyone interested in mental illness, its treatment, the laws concerning it, extraordinary lives, or simply a good read." Robert Michels, M.D., Walsh McDermott University Professor of Medicine, and University Professor of Psychiatry, Cornell University
"This book will inspire everyone who reads it to believe that people with mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, can attain the highest levels of professional accomplishment and personal happiness." Paul S. Appelbaum, M.D., professor of psychiatry, Columbia University, and past president, American Psychiatric Association
by Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., director, Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging,
"A courageous, bold, touching, brutally honest, and inspiring account of a lifelong struggle against demons of the mind and the body."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"In this articulate and at times profoundly disturbing memoir, Saks...recounts her nearly lifelong struggle with schizophrenia, including voices, visions and profound depersonalization....As readers, we can be thankful that she has survived to tell her tale."
by Library Journal,
"Saks's narrative is dramatic, detailed, honest, and extremely readable."
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.
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