The Yale Daily News ran a February 29 story on Elyn Saks whose recent memoir The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. Time magazine voted it one of the top ten best non-fiction books of 2007. One of the interesting aspects of the story is Saks’ crediting of her psychoanalysis as being critical to her management of her schizophrenia. While schizophrenia is currently viewed as a brain disease (medical model), that does not mean that it is not amenable, in part, to psychotherapeutic intervention. Bertram Karon, for one, has written about this mode of treatment. Saks has spoken explicitly about the importance of her psychotherapy treatment. She has also spoken about her humiliating experiences on psychiatric wards.
Here’s an excerpt from the story:
Saks said the initial symptoms of her condition began appearing around age six or seven, when she started to experience phobias, obsessions and night terrors. Her teen years brought a bout with anorexia and drug use that landed her in a daytime rehabilitation program, she said. Then she began hearing thoughts in her head that were not her own.
“It was as if my mind were a sand castle and all the sand were sliding away,” she said.
After graduating first in her class from Vanderbilt University, Saks began studying philosophy at Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship. That is when she really broke down. Stricken by depression and paranoia, the five-foot-ten Saks shriveled to 95 pounds, and she fantasized about dousing herself with gasoline and lighting herself on fire. Continue reading “Functioning with Schizophrenia”