The Collected Schizophrenias
Powerful, affecting essays on mental illness, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and a Whiting AwardAn intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the "collected schizophrenias" but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community's own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang's analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.

The Collected Schizophrenias Details

TitleThe Collected Schizophrenias
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 5th, 2019
PublisherGraywolf Press
ISBN-139781555978273
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Autobiography, Memoir, Health, Mental Health, Psychology, Mental Illness

The Collected Schizophrenias Review

  • Hanna
    January 1, 1970
    Harrowing. Intense. Illuminating. Powerful. In The Collected Schizofrenias, Esmé tells the story of her life with mental illness and Lyme disease. This feels like an intimate and honest look at what living with schizophrenia can be like. From psychosis to not being taken seriously by medical professionals, each page of this book offers insight into a world that isn't discussed enough. This will be a powerful nonfiction read in 2019.
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  • Katie Long
    January 1, 1970
    A collection of essays about Esme Weijun Wang’s experience living with, among other illnesses, schizoaffective disorder. It’s rare to read about schizophrenia from someone who lives with it, rather than someone who treats or studies these conditions. Her take on the way that patients with schizophrenia are often left out of decisions about their own treatment (which often prioritizes the safety of those around them, rather than the patient herself), is certainly debatable, but is an invaluable p A collection of essays about Esme Weijun Wang’s experience living with, among other illnesses, schizoaffective disorder. It’s rare to read about schizophrenia from someone who lives with it, rather than someone who treats or studies these conditions. Her take on the way that patients with schizophrenia are often left out of decisions about their own treatment (which often prioritizes the safety of those around them, rather than the patient herself), is certainly debatable, but is an invaluable perspective.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    An outstanding collection of essays about living with schizoaffective disorder and later chronic Lyme disease. Wang provides a glimpse into an existence that is harrowing at times but also so rich and filled with life. She writes about living with a “slippery brain” (a term taken from the last essay, “Beyond the Hedges”) and how to tether herself to reality. A must-read out in February 2019.
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  • Janelle • She Reads with Cats
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come
  • Andrew Unger
    January 1, 1970
    Wang opens this tour de force collection with a recitation from the DSM V and a careful meditation on the importance and impact of such deliberate categorizations of subjective mental instabilities. Primarily, Wang focuses on the lack of context given to patients on the purlieus of schizophrenia, those living with the sometimes more devastating diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. With each essay — case studies of her own life juxtaposed against established icons from the canon of mental illne Wang opens this tour de force collection with a recitation from the DSM V and a careful meditation on the importance and impact of such deliberate categorizations of subjective mental instabilities. Primarily, Wang focuses on the lack of context given to patients on the purlieus of schizophrenia, those living with the sometimes more devastating diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. With each essay — case studies of her own life juxtaposed against established icons from the canon of mental illness (like Nellie Bly) as well as cultural memes of our time (like Slender Man) — Wang carefully builds nuance to confront this objectivity. The result is a peerless, cohesive work that offers a glimpse at a larger ur-narrative that never quite manages to take shape in the limited space of these essays. By distancing herself from herself, Wang performs an effortless trapeze act that grows more amazing with each repetition; from this writerly sleight of hand, she creates a sense of someone viewing themselves as if they were a patient of themselves, an ultimately beautiful, emotionally propulsive, and necessary dislocation of the psyche — one not dissimilar from the types of instabilities this book seeks to illuminate. I wanted more. I left this collection wishing for the apotheosis of what these essays hint at, which to me is a more thorough ambiguation of so many vain attempts to disambiguate, delineate, and unfairly distill the precise nature of what is “sane.” Wang deserves a bigger canvas and I hope this book resounds in a way that will allow her the unlimited space she deserves to present the great work that lies just outside the margins of this slim and stirring, though unbalanced collection.
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  • Lupita Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Captivating & essential collection of essays. Thankful to Wang for sharing her story with readers.
  • Hannah Fenster
    January 1, 1970
    “Schizophrenia terrifies,” warns the first line of The Collected Schizophrenias. Then, despite this caution, it proceeds. Such conviction quickly becomes a pattern over the course of the collection: See the difficult thing. Face it anyway. With profound compassion and curiosity, Esmé Weijun Wang displays her uncanny ability to write in multiple dimensions, using research, memoir, and pop culture to gather the pieces of a conversation that often feels—at least to me—like a fragile, elusive one. L “Schizophrenia terrifies,” warns the first line of The Collected Schizophrenias. Then, despite this caution, it proceeds. Such conviction quickly becomes a pattern over the course of the collection: See the difficult thing. Face it anyway. With profound compassion and curiosity, Esmé Weijun Wang displays her uncanny ability to write in multiple dimensions, using research, memoir, and pop culture to gather the pieces of a conversation that often feels—at least to me—like a fragile, elusive one. Like “the schizophrenias” themselves, these varied essays are not without a linking force: an unwavering focus on the “human element” in the experience of schizophrenia. In accounting for people living with mental illness, parents and caretakers, researchers, lawmakers, clinicians, university administrators, and children, among others, Wang leans into the complexity that flawed, contradictory, often well-intentioned people innately lend to any circumstance. I’ve been looking for this book for years, without quite knowing it. What a relief to face the difficult thing, and to find (despite the cautions) a distinct strength.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    One of the areas in which I am underread is first-person, own voices mental illness narratives. Part of the reason for that is how few of those narratives there are in the world, especially that don’t focus purely on depression. It’s not that depression isn’t a serious and important illness (one with which I myself grapple), but the brain, the mind, is the most complicated space in the universe, and there’s more to its health and illness than one disease.Esmé Weijun Wang is someone I’ve followed One of the areas in which I am underread is first-person, own voices mental illness narratives. Part of the reason for that is how few of those narratives there are in the world, especially that don’t focus purely on depression. It’s not that depression isn’t a serious and important illness (one with which I myself grapple), but the brain, the mind, is the most complicated space in the universe, and there’s more to its health and illness than one disease.Esmé Weijun Wang is someone I’ve followed a bit here and there online, and have considered taking her courses more than once (I still think I might). But I didn’t know much of her story, or anyone’s who carries a diagnosis of one or more of the schizophrenias.This book is incredible. With a combination of deep research and detailed, equally deep insight into the nuances of experiencing psychosis first hand, Wang brings the reader into a totally immersive and gripping memoir. There are so many things I haven’t thought about or heard about in regards to severe mental illness like schizophrenia. One of the many things that struck me most was Wang’s ability to recount how vividly she hallucinated or knew things that weren’t ‘true.’ Another little thing that really stuck on me was one doctor’s comment that eventually all mental illness will be traced to autoimmune disorders. That idea seems like it would make a lot of sense. But there are many facets of this work that really opened and expanded my thinking about severe mental illness, and mental illness in general. It’s beautifully written and Wang’s voice is like your smartest and most empathetic friend. Reading this has transformed my thinking in important ways.I highly recommend this book to literally every human being, no matter what diagnoses you do or don’t carry. Thank you Graywolf for the ARC. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review; opinions are my own.
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  • Sachi Argabright
    January 1, 1970
    THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS is a collection of essays featuring Wang’s experiences living with chronic and mental illness. In these open and honest essays, Wang explains that schizophrenia isn’t an easily identifiable disease to diagnose, and also discusses her own path to being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. In essays that range from common misconceptions about mental illness to her intimate experiences living with the disease, Wang’s book provides insight to this misunderstood condi THE COLLECTED SCHIZOPHRENIAS is a collection of essays featuring Wang’s experiences living with chronic and mental illness. In these open and honest essays, Wang explains that schizophrenia isn’t an easily identifiable disease to diagnose, and also discusses her own path to being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. In essays that range from common misconceptions about mental illness to her intimate experiences living with the disease, Wang’s book provides insight to this misunderstood condition.This book was so different from anything I’ve ever read before, and I learned so much from it. Wang’s writing is beautiful yet so informative at the same time. While I wasn’t expecting the book to be as academic as it was, it was extremely helpful in understanding more about the psychology behind schizoaffective disorder and the “collected schizophrenias” spectrum.Topics I learned most from this book include what it means to be a high functioning individual living with schizoaffective disorder, how some collegiate institutions respond to students with mental illnesses, the hereditary nature of mental illness, and how there needs to be a change in the way we speak about people with mental illness (for example: we never say someone “is cancer” when they are diagnosed with the disease, in yet we say someone “is bipolar.” It infers that they become their diagnosis rather than someone living with their diagnosis). Overall, a very insightful and important title! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 4.5/5! I highly recommend this book for people wanting to learn more about mental illness, and/or specifically about schizophrenia.
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  • Michael Smith
    January 1, 1970
    This is a powerful and important book by a courageous writer willing to share her personal struggles. I come from a family with mental illness, and this book hit home on many levels. Strongly recommended.
  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    This intimate and harrowing look at the author’s schizoaffective disorder is a raw and complex read, and it’s honestly difficult to get through— I had to put it down and step away a few times before coming back to it. Wang writes about her experiences in detail, and her wrenching essays are essential for anyone interested in psychology. That said, I did find the first essay a bit too dense and jargon-y for someone like me who isn’t well-educated on these topics.
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  • Julia
    January 1, 1970
    This collection of essays is a true gift. Esmé Weijun Wang chronicles her own diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and in so doing gives us a generous look at a very misunderstood condition. This is a moving look at mental illness from the viewpoint of the diagnosed rather than the one doing the diagnosing, with important lessons for all of us on how to treat others dealing with diagnoses laden with stigma.
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  • Jaime
    January 1, 1970
    I wish I could have given this 2.5 stars, but instead, I rounded down. I wanted to love this, but it fell flat for me.
  • Leslie
    January 1, 1970
    Essential reading for the twenty-first century.
  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting essays. Intelligent and rigorous. Well done.
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