The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

4.3 21
by Elyn R. Saks
     
 

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ISBN-10: 140130138X

ISBN-13: 9781401301385

Pub. Date: 08/14/2007

Publisher: Hachette Book Group

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

Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401301385
Publisher:
Hachette Book Group
Publication date:
08/14/2007
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
722,237
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

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Center Cannot Hold 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We have a family member with a mental illness and a close family friend with schizophrenia. Author Saks literally takes your hand and lets you 'feel' what it feels like to be schizophrenic - and live through a psychotic state. I wanted to know what it is like - and this is probably the closest you will ever get. Ms. Sakes deserves great credit for 'coming out of the closet' and taking us all one step further from the stigma of mental illness. She also deserves enormous credit for being a survivor of mental illness. She gives great hope to all of those who suffer from mental illness or have family members who do so. She is a true hero - and truly blessed to be surrounded by so many good people who did not flinch at her illness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fascinating, poignant, and uplifting true story about the struggles of an intelligent woman who suffers from schizophrenia, yet creates a fulfilling and satisfying life. Her detailed descriptions about what it's like to experience psychotic breaks are unforgettable. The book evokes compassion in the reader. It is plainly and superbly written. Her path to professional & personal happiness is deeply inspiring. A must-read for anyone interested in mental health issues.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book provides a compassionate insight into what it is like to suffer from schizophrenia. The book also shows that it is possible, albeit difficult, to live a relatively happy and productive life despite being a victim of that illness. The book is a very engaging book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who suffers from or knows anyone who suffers from any form of mental illness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elyn Saks shows, demontrates,and revievls through her writting the horror, struggles and victorys of her experience with Schizophrenia. Her story is a testimony of Victory to all of us that are challenged with a mental illnes or brain disorder and those who care about us.
Rossa_Forbes More than 1 year ago
If you read Robert Whitaker's new book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, you will see that Elyn Saks' success, messy as it is, may be in large part because she continually refused to take the antipsychotics that were offered her. Whitaker's book extensively documents that long term use of psychiatric drugs leads to poorer outcomes. Psychiatrist Daniel Carlat says: "We often talk about neuro-transmitters like serotonin and noroepharin. But that really ends up being neurobabble. It sounds impressive to patients and it makes them think we know what we're doing when we're prescribing the medications. But we don't really know how these meds work." Side effects, said Carlat, can be serious or in some cases, unknown. "We don't know enough about the side effects to know how many people we're putting at risk." Elyn Saks' refusing to take medications became particularly problematic when she realized that she was in danger of sacrificing her reputation as an academic high flyer to paranoia. From this perspective, it is understandable that something had to be done, which she hadn't managed to accomplish up until then. When I read these first person narratives, I always ask what information is available now that wasn't available then or what did the person not do that might have helped? None of this guarantees, of course, that the outcome would have been any different. Elyn Saks did not explore vitamin therapy, for one. Vitamins in large doses such as vitamin B3 (niacin) act like drugs and there are no negative side effects. Energy medicine, which has also helped my son, was not widely known back then, and so there is no mention is this book of therapies that could correct an energy imbalance I have learned enough through my own investigations to see that certain factors were in her favor outside of just being female. One is that her family let her do her thing. It is sometimes said that the family has to be involved but not over-involved. This is what is called Expressed Emotion (EE). Patients with families exhibiting low EE are found to have better outcomes when it comes to schizophrenia. When I first was trying to find out some useful information about what to do for my son, I was intrigued to read that many doctors feel that people do best whose families don't seem to notice that their relative is ill. Elyn Sak's parents win top prize in that category, though it probably wasn't a deliberate strategy on their part. Once I caught on to this simple but elegant idea, I began practicing it with my son. It seems to work because it thrusts a certain responsibility on the person while they remain clueless about how really worried you are. They are less anxious this way. You will eventually be less anxious, too, by practicing low EE. Saks also points out the schizophrenic problem of over-attachment to parents. Early on, she told a therapist that she no longer wanted to see her (Karen) because her parents were upset that the therapist hadn't figured this out and come up with a plan, and that it cost them too much money to continue to see her. "It never occurred to me back then (and if it occurred to Karen, she didn't say so) that I was taking better care of my parents than I was of myself." I love this book for its insight and honesty, however if people would do well to question whether Saks might have put her demons to rest if she had broadened her therapeutic interventions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As someone who has lived with a child with mental illness I can understand the pain and stigma associated with any kind of mental illness. Professor Saks is obviously beyond brilliant yet writes in a way that we can understand. She brings her struggles to life throughout this candid book and makes me want to meet her to say thank you for your vulnerability and honesty.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brilliant book which truly opens one's eyes to the realities of people who live with schizophrenia. Amazing descriptions of schizophrenic episodes paired with a beyond inspiring story of success through determination, support, and of course a couple trips off the beaten path.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book helps give insight into a debilitating disorder, fears associated with the consequences of being labeled, as well as the difficulty in finding appropriate help. Additionally, this book expresses the way "treatments" are processed by a patient. It was also interesting to read about differences in the treatment of mental illness here, versus in the UK. Her story gives hope to those who have been given a label that comes with a terrible prognosis. Thank you, Elyn Saks, for sharing your story.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In The Center Cannot Hold, Ms. Saks openly and honestly reveals herself and her illness to readers. She courageously reveals what it's like to live with a mental illness. Her book offers knowledge, hope, and a deeper understanding to those struggling with mental illnesses, family members, and mental health professionals. What a gift Ms. Saks has given us!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
interesting story but at times it lost my interest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like a romance this book is very, very good written and compliments for Elyn Saks that studied so much unless her schizophrenia and reached university (work)positions as she did. But I am amazed that she, even while she had and still does follow 'classic' psychoanalysis (in the past she already had it for over 13 or 15 years) did not recover! For me this must be caused just by the classic form of psychoanalysis, because other schizophrenic persons recovered by the help of psychotherapy, like Ken Steele, like the norvegian Arnhild Lauveng (who is without medication now, recovered mostly with the help of occupational and also some kind of talking therapy) and I myself (also without medications since 6 years) recovered with the help of several years of more psychoanalytic and less cognitive psychotherapy. I am sorry for her she did not recover. It is possible, but with other kinds of therapy!