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The Center Cannot Hold | [Elyn R. Saks]

The Center Cannot Hold

Professor of psychiatry Elyn R. Saks writes about her struggle with schizophrenia in this unflinching account of her mental illness. In The Center Cannot Hold, Saks draws readers into a nightmare world of medications, a misguided health-care system, and social stigmas. But she would not be defeated. With a strength and force of will that most can only imagine, Saks reclaimed her life and went on to achieve great success.
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Publisher's Summary

Professor of psychiatry Elyn R. Saks writes about her struggle with schizophrenia in this unflinching account of her mental illness. In The Center Cannot Hold, Saks draws readers into a nightmare world of medications, a misguided health-care system, and social stigmas. But she would not be defeated. With a strength and force of will that most can only imagine, Saks reclaimed her life and went on to achieve great success.

©2007 Elyn R. Saks; (P)2007 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"In this engrossing memoir, Saks...demonstrates a novelist's skill of creating character, dialogue, and suspense." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (254 )
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  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 07-23-09
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 07-23-09 Member Since 2003

    glam

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Schizophrenia Inside Out"

    This amazing memoir is an insider's fly-on-the-wall look at what it means to suffer from an alienating and incurable, progressive mental illness. Granted, the protagonist has access to plenty of resources, and thus is a very high-functioning individual with plenty of status and privilege. Not many schizophrenics are as lucky. Still, she somehow remains on her feet, white-knuckling it throughout all her breakdowns and especially through the wall of denial that so often accompanies this disease.

    The book makes a highly cogent case for seeking and maintaining medication as well as talk therapy in order to carry on a productive independent life.

    I read this book twice!

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-24-08
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    "A Memoir of Schizophrenia"

    Schizophrenics are supposed to live in a world of their own, unable to function in society or to be understood. Not only does the author overcome her handicap and become a successful law professor, she reveals the inner workings of her mind and the demons that haunted her. Most likely this memoir was only made possible by reason of the enhanced drugs now used to control this horrible malady. In any event, I found the book fascinating from beginning to end.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine Boise, ID, USA 05-03-09
    Katherine Boise, ID, USA 05-03-09 Member Since 2008
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    "The Center Cannot Hold"

    As a mental health professional, I really appreciate the authors depth of knowledge and ability to communicate insights beyond the research and clinical references.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pauline Edmonton, AB, Canada 10-21-11
    Pauline Edmonton, AB, Canada 10-21-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Strength, courage & hope"

    The author is a brilliant scholar who has schizophrenia. This account of her life gives an appreciation of how difficult it is to live with this illness, yet also an understanding that it is a mistake to underestimate what a person with this illness might accomplish. Also, I was left thinking that doctors do not always know what is best. Or even moderately good. I was unaware of the huge differences in the treatment of the mentally ill between Britain and the United States. The use of force and involuntary treatment are much more common in the US. Thank you Elyn for fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves, and for sharing your story with us!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Brady, LCSW Palo Alto, CA United States 10-12-09
    Susan Brady, LCSW Palo Alto, CA United States 10-12-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible"

    One of the best books I've read on mental illness. This woman is remarkable and has preformed a great service by articulating so well what happens internally, as well as how horribly our hospitals do in helping people.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanne 06-23-10
    Jeanne 06-23-10
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    "Informative"

    I felt the narrative rambled in places, but on the whole, the book provides helpful insight into the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic. I recommend it for anyone who lives or works with a schizophrenic.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul HARRISBURG, PA, United States 03-21-09
    Paul HARRISBURG, PA, United States 03-21-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Fascinating"

    I found this book to be fascinating and I am so glad she wrote it. This is the memoir of a very bright paranoid schizophrenic who manages to succeed in spite of a devastating illness. Being in the health care field I found it especially educational and I do appreciate the author's insights into her illness. The narrator was perfect for the book-- clear, slow and measured.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AudreyLM Brookline, VT 09-15-08
    AudreyLM Brookline, VT 09-15-08
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    "Narration was terrible!"

    I am distracted from the very fine book by the shaky, unsure, weirdly paced narration. I was hoping to wait it out (everybody has a bad day I guess) but it was persistent. Appalling. I have never written a negative review before but this audio download was expensive and was really ruined for me by the narration.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina Poplar Grove, IL, United States 10-04-08
    Tina Poplar Grove, IL, United States 10-04-08
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    "Fascinating!"

    I thought the narration was great! She was narrating a schitzophrenic person - and i think it added to the book. The story was fascinating and I have listened to it more than once. I like her reasons for writing the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jodi 05-28-13
    jodi 05-28-13
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    "Incredible book with terrible narration"

    This is a courageous, astounding and absolutely necessary firsthand account of the terror and social stigma associated with having a brain disorder, specifically Schizophrenia. It sheds much needed light on the common misconceptions and discrimination that still exist today within the mental health profession and the general public.

    MY DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THIS BOOK IS IN THE NARRATION, NOT THE WRITING ITSELF- I highly recommend the physical version vs. audio, as the narrator speaks with a dry, sticky mouth that showcases the sound of her breathing and swallowing throughout- It gives the feeling of having someone stand too close while chewing loudly in your ear. (I would imagine this is NOT the way Mrs.Saks intended the book to be enjoyed.)

    Nevertheless, I believe this is a book that should be read by everyone, not just those who live with such a disorder but anyone who would like to be a better and more compassionate person with the ability to see their community more fully- diverse, complex and without labels.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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