The Center Cannot Hold is Captivating

This book is jaw dropping, heartache inducing, riveting, and a much needed story to be told.  A crucial contribution to the slim pickings world of memoirs and nonfiction writing on mental illness.

We live within a culture steeped in stigma on this topic.  Anyone with a mental illness is “crazy,” “a lost cause,” “disabled,” a person to be feared or approached with much caution, unable ever to think straight or clearly, less intelligent or capable than others.  These are all stigmas, prejudices, and limited, overly simplistic perceptions.

“The Center Cannot Hold” is a memoir of one woman’s journey through her experience of living with schizophrenia.

Parts of the book will send chills through your body.  The entirety of the story will move you emotionally and fill you with empathy.  It’s a heartbreaking, harrowing account of what a person with this disease might and likely does experience.  Offering the reader a semblance of and glimpse into what living within such a mind might be like.

You simply cannot imagine, and even on reading this and being given the barest, most removed impression (as in, from an outside perspective as the reader), just, wow.

“But explaining what I’ve come to call “disorganization” is a different challenge altogether. Consciousness gradually loses its coherence. One’s center gives way. The center cannot hold. The “me” becomes a haze, and the solid center from which one experiences reality breaks up like a bad radio signal.” 
             ― Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

You will look at those who suffer with a mental illness through entirely new eyes on reading this book.  Longing to take them into your arms, to hold and reassure them, to offer them a bit of tenderness and warmth.  You will feel a stabbing sorrow that there are people who live with these types of thoughts and inner experiences.  As well as anger and a sense of protectiveness towards those who view them with callous and insensitive judgement.

This book is an important read for anyone who knows a person with a mental illness, as well as an important read for everyone really.  Merely for the fact that reading this will open your mind and heart, shifting your perception of those with a mental illness in profound and significant ways.

As an aside, the book is gripping.  I started it 36 hours ago and am already more than halfway through.  It’s engaging, well written, an easy read in terms of the prose (though challenging and breath robbing in terms of the content- some of it cannot be believed, it’s so shocking and incredibly sad).

This is a memoir which I am stunned does not get more attention.  It should.  The lessons one stands to learn from this story, as well as the empathy gained, and new eyes with which one will see those who struggle with mental illness, it’s a must read.

“The humanity we all share is more important than the mental illnesses we may not” 
            ― Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness


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