Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness

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Overview

Psychiatric Tales draws on Darryl Cunningham's time working in a psychiatric ward to give a reasoned and sympathetic look into the world of mental illness. In each chapter, Cunningham explores a different mental health problem, using evocative imagery to describe the experience of mental illness, both from the point of view of those beset by illness and their friends and relatives. As Cunningham reveals this human experience, he also shows how society's perceptions of and reactions to mental illness perpetuate ...

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Overview

Psychiatric Tales draws on Darryl Cunningham's time working in a psychiatric ward to give a reasoned and sympathetic look into the world of mental illness. In each chapter, Cunningham explores a different mental health problem, using evocative imagery to describe the experience of mental illness, both from the point of view of those beset by illness and their friends and relatives. As Cunningham reveals this human experience, he also shows how society's perceptions of and reactions to mental illness perpetuate needless stigma, for example, the myth that schizophrenic people are more likely to commit crimes than non-schizophrenic people. Psychiatric Tales is a groundbreaking graphic work; it deftly demythologizes and destigmatizes the disorders that 26.2 percent of American adults live with every day.

Concluding with a reflection on how mental illness has affected his own life, Darryl Cunningham's Psychiatric Tales is a moving, engaging examination of what is, at its root, the human condition.

Darryl Cunningham is the creator of the Web comics Super-Sam and John-of-the-Night and The Streets of San Diablo. He is a prolific cartoonist, sculptor, and photographer, and lives in Leeds, England. This is his first book.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

An illustrated primer on mental illness that builds to personal revelation.

Despite the title, most of these chapters are not traditional tales with narrative and characters. They are, instead, explorations of various psychiatric illnesses common in the wards where Cunningham worked as a health-care assistant. In his book-length debut, the author, who created the Web comics Super Sam and John-of-the-Night and The Streets of San Diablo draws on his experience with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and other illnesses. Despite the darkness of much of the material—as reflected in the black-and-white drawings, polarities that the illustrator exploits to creative effect—the prevailing tone is one of compassion. As Cunningham explains in the introduction, this is "intended to be a stigma busting book...needed because fear and ignorance of mental illness remains widespread in society." Most of the text is similarly straightforward, but the art is more revelatory, as it illuminates brain patterns, brain disease and psychological conditions. Yet there are flashes of deadpan humor as well, particularly in the chapter titled "Anti-Social Personality Disorder," in which the author relates how a condition that sometimes results in criminal behavior shares traits that society generally considers normal: "Selfishness, lack of empathy, superficiality, and manipulativeness...are highly valued in the worlds of business, politics, the law, and academia." In the chapter titled "People With Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives," the author focuses on a variety of luminaries—from Winston Churchill and Judy Garland to Nick Drake and Brian Wilson—who have struggled with mental conditions. "How I Lived Again" provides testimony on how the artist's own mental illness led to his interest in the subject (as well as his employment in the field) and how his art proved crucial in his recovery.

The illustrations are compelling throughout, but the narrative is more powerful when it is more personal and specific.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608192786
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 226,659
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Darryl Cunningham is the creator of the web comics "Super-Sam and John-of-the-Night" and "The Streets of San Diablo." A prolific cartoonist, sculptor and photographer, he lives in Leeds, England. This is his first book.

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