I just finished reading Elyn R. Saks’ book, The Center Cannot Hold, and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially people who are touched by someone who has mental illness. The book is a memoir of Ms. Saks’ life and coming to terms with schizophrenia. From an early age she recalls having strange thoughts, but despite the fact that she had many psychotic episodes and has schizophrenia, she has been able to accomplish a lot both socially and professionally! She is a law professor and a psychoanalyst as well as being an author of not only this memoir, but other scholarly works as well. She is married and has many friends and leads a relatively normal life with the help of medication and therapy.
Her story is amazing and uplifting. While there are varying degrees of severity of the disease no doubt and people also come to the disease with varying premorbid functional abilities, Dr. Saks proves that schizophrenia today doesn’t mean a lifetime spent drooling in some back ward of a psychiatric state hospital.
I have to say, that I also got a very uplifting email from somebody regarding her book and my work at schizophrenia.com. The person who emailed me told me that by reading her book and watching my videos, his thoughts about the stigma of schizophrenia and people with schizophrenia was radically altered. He said how before he thought of schizophrenia happening to “other” people, but how our work has shown that it is something that can and does happen to everyone! Well, I have to say, that was such a huge compliment and one of the reasons why I at least have been willing to put myself and my illness out in public. I can’t speak for Dr. Saks.
Anyway, I am sure that reading this book will change your notions about what schizophrenia is and who it afflicts. It will change your mind about what is possible and I hope that it will help people begin a dialog about a much-misunderstood mental illness that needs to be discussed so that we can improve mental health care for everyone.