The Center Cannot Hold is an awe-inspiring book about Elyn Saks and her life with Schizophrenia. Elyn starts with describing her childhood growing up with her seemingly normal family. Elyn started displaying symptoms of her schizophrenia while she was an adolescent, shortly after she graduated high school and started college.
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Elyn’s symptoms included talking and mumbling to herself about the demons in her head, isolating herself from her friends and family, and refusing to admit that she had a mental disorder. Her psychotic breaks happened usually whenever she was experiencing a change, whether it was good or bad. She was unable to distinguish between her hallucinations and delusions, and reality. Elyn states that her hallucinations were very vivid and realistic, hard to escape, and they’d come out of the blue without warning. The voices in her head would say things like I am a nobody, a nothing, You don’t deserve to talk, I am unworthy, If I tried to kill myself, I know I would succeed, I’m a piece of shit and I deserve to die, I am God. I give life but I can also take it away, and many times she mentions I have killed many people throughout the book. Elyn also mentions many times the demons inside her head control her actions and thoughts. There was often an underlying problem that caused Elyn to feel this way. Elyn struggled and often neglected her diet and was therefore often emaciated. She wouldn’t be able to remember the last time she showered or brushed her teeth because her psychotic episodes were so intense.
Elyn also brought to light her experiences in mental hospitals and her very vivid and descriptive memories of being restrained and tied down. Elyn noticed that with psychotherapy, her symptoms and psychotic episodes seemed to lessen, and her cognitive capacities started to return back to her normal functioning. This disease affected her personal and professional life. It took a major emotional and physical toll on not only her life, but as well as her family’s lives. Once Elyn admitted to having a disease and was willing to put aside her stigma against medicine, she started to manage her symptoms much better she even fell in love. Her disease brought many other medical obstacles that she had to overcome including a subarachnoid hemorrhage, breast cancer, and Tardive Dyskinesia. But she overcame those obstacles and has become a successful writer, professor, and psychoanalytic.
Schizophrenia is classified by the DSM-5 as a psychotic disorder. Psychotic disorders are characterized by unusual thinking, distorted perceptions, and odd behaviors (Beidel, Stanley, Bulik, & M.A., 2016, pp. 413). Those diagnosed with psychotic disorders experience being out of touch with reality and unable to think in a logical or coherent manner. They often are found mumbling or talking to themselves or behaving differently.
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