This collection of powerful essays not only confronts issues of misrepresentation of mental illness by looking at mainstream media's harmful perpetuation of stereotypes, stereotypes that are driven by pop psychology and a deep fear of the unknown, but it also offers an incredibly personal, meticulous, and dignified look into the writer's own experience living with schizoaffective disorder, an experience that first and foremost impacts the life of the person who has been diagnosed. I learned so much from this book and know others will too. Recommended By Darla M., Powells.com
Here, Esmé Weijun Wang is at her brilliant best and her writing is a chisel, precisely revealing the discomforting relationship our histories both past and present have with both the categorization and treatment of the famously reviled schizophrenias. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder herself, Wang has delivered us a book that delves down to the depths of the self with perfect sentences that elevate us even when they devastate. Recommended By Cosima C., Powells.com
Although I do not share Esmé Weijun Wang's diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, I too have wondered how to separate my brain from my true self — is there even any distance at all? In this riveting collection of essays, she documents the realities of living with a stigmatized diagnosis and explores the elusive nature of identity. Translated literally, "schizophrenia" means split mind and Wang struggles to reconcile the sum of her parts into a cohesive whole. Page by page, this book illuminates a condition too often shrouded in mystery and prejudice. Because it is both hauntingly beautiful and painfully vivid, The Collected Schizophrenias has a permanent place on my bookshelves. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Powerful, affecting essays on mental illness, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and a Whiting Award
An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the "collected schizophrenias" but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community's own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang's analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.
"Intimate, urgent, and powerful....Wang writes generously about the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life." BuzzFeed
"Penetrating and revelatory." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Esmé Weijun Wang offers us an all-access pass to her beautiful, unquiet mind....Rarely has a book about living with mental illness felt so immediate, raw, and powerful." Dani Shapiro
"[The Collected Schizophrenias] organizes the confusion, terror and complexity of [Wang's] experience into an imperfectly cohesive, profoundly illuminating whole." Shelf Awareness
"Wang is a brilliant writer....This intimate essay collection grapples with her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and all the sorrow and searching that comes with it. Always artful and illuminating, never facile." Vulture
About the Author
Esmé Weijun Wang is the author of The Border of Paradise. She received the Whiting Award in 2018 and was named one of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists of 2017. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and lives in San Francisco.