Author Topic: The Center Cannot Hold  (Read 955 times)

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Offline BuzzKill

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The Center Cannot Hold
« on: December 26, 2007, 06:15:29 PM »
I've not yet read this, but I thought it sounded like something some folks here might want to read.

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

Elyn R. Saks

From Booklist
At eight years old, Saks began suffering hallucinations and obsessive fears of being attacked. An adolescent experimentation with drugs provoked her parents to enroll her in a drug treatment program.  But Saks' incredible self-control masked the fact that she was suffering from a debilitating mental illness. By the time she entered graduate school at Oxford University, her symptoms were so severe—including full-blown psychotic episodes and suicidal fantasies—that she was hospitalized. Through Oxford, law school at Yale, and a move to Los Angeles to work in the law school of the University of California, Saks struggled mightily to balance her ambitions with her illness, which was eventually diagnosed as schizophrenia. Never wanting to concede to her mental illness, Saks founds calm and comfort in a rigorous work routine. An analyst characterized her as having three lives: as Elyn, as Professor Saks, and as the Lady of the Charts mental patient. As Saks battled to get off medication and leave behind the Lady of the Charts, she fought for the rights of mental patients, and came to terms with her own limitations. Bush, Vanessa
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Me: I am currently reading "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout. I'm only on the second chapter - but it has been very interesting.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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The Center Cannot Hold
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2007, 02:41:19 PM »
Quote
At eight years old, Saks began suffering hallucinations and obsessive fears of being attacked. An adolescent experimentation with drugs provoked her parents to enroll her in a drug treatment program.


Nothing like your worst nightmares coming true!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline BuzzKill

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The Center Cannot Hold
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2008, 04:19:54 PM »
I'm now about 3/4 through it.

The "program" she was placed in sounds very much like a version of the Seed or Straight.  It was in Miami and called, Operation Re-entry, but they generally referred to it as The Center. However, unlike the Seed or Straight Inc, she says she went to school and to her own home at night.  She describes it as being descended from Synanon, and briefly mentions that Syanon fell into some disrepute.

 I find myself wondering if she simply didn't write about the first phases? I wonder if despite her great strength, and ability to face her illness and accomplish great things while fighting it - she just wasn't able to "go there" when it came to the first phases of her drug rehab?

Anyway, all this having been said - I would like to highly recommend this book.

 I believe you will find this insider's account most eye opening. I feel it could go a long way to helping folks understand the suffering of the seriously mentally ill - and I would hope it would increase compassion and reason when treating them or in any way interacting with them.

Also, this is just simply a very good book. It has an un-put down-able quality about it.

http://http://www.amazon.com/Center-Cannot-Hold-Journey-Through/dp/140130138X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200083854&sr=8-1
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline BuzzKill

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Re: The Center Cannot Hold
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2008, 08:27:12 PM »
I finished it this afternoon. I have to admit towards the end it got to be a bit to predicable - maybe a little bit tedious. But still, for anyone with an interest in the subject of mental illness this is very much worth a read.

I did find myself thinking she would not have had the success overcoming the illness she had, if she had been less financially secure. Had she been as ill as she was, and uninsured - or even with the typical coverage that provides very minimal levels of care - and not had the resources to go "out of pocket", she would have been one of the insane street people she so feared one day becoming.

Also, for those here, it should be pointed out that she viewed her time in Operation Re-Entry as a positive thing - despite the fact it had programmed her to fear and dread the very medicines she needed to maintain a functioning mind. At least she seemed to lay a lot of the blame on Operation Re-Entry, although it is commonly known that mental patients typically resist staying on their meds. Of course they have good reasons for wishing to get off them - the side effects are awful.

It is remarkable that the author managed to have the great personal and professional success she has had. Her illness was sever, and it seems she was never entirely free of the voices and intrusive paranoid thoughts. Her story is indeed full of hope, in the face of what would seem to be insurmountable obstacles.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »