Schizophrenia in The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks


“This experience is much harder, and weirder, to describe than extreme fear or terror, most people know what it is like to be seriously afraid. If they haven’t felt it themselves, they’ve at least seen a movie, or read a book, or talked to a frightened friend – they can at least imagine it. But explaining what I’ve come to call ‘disorganization’ is a different challenge altogether. Consciousness gradually loses its coherence, one’s center gives away. 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. (Saks, p. 13)”
These words are the description of schizophrenia, written by a woman who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, Elyn Saks. Her book, The Center Cannot Hold is the memoir of Sak’s own life experience and her struggle with schizophrenia, or as she puts it, her journey through madness. Although her journey did not lead to a full recovery, as is the case with many individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, Saks was able to live and maintain a life, despite her very negative prognosis. She is a living myth buster to the stereotypical beliefs that have been commonly assumed by many about schizophrenia. Common misconceptions include the inability to live independently, to work professionally, to have meaningful relationships with friends and/or significant others, and to actually be able to live normal lives. Saks was able to achieve all of these despite her struggles, her late diagnosis, and her numerous hospitalizations and relapses. This is especially encouraging considering the fact that Saks grew up in a time in which schizophrenia was even less understood than it is today. Although researches have come a long way, much is ...

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... of the treatment methods that I previously mentioned. She also put a great deal of effort into resisting treatment, which in my research I found is actually fairly common. Several studies reported that, although symptom remission could be obtained for 27% of patients within 4 weeks and 45% within 5 years following treatment initiation, 20– 30% of patients reached a treatment-resistant status on the other side. (Kanahara, et al., p. 1)”
Schizophrenia is the most severe of all the psychotic disorders. Sak’s states “…it’s not ‘split personality,’ although the two are often confused by the public; the schizophrenic mind is not split, but shattered. (Saks, p. 328)” In my creative portion, there are images, in which the artist intended to portray the feeling of having schizophrenia, Like Saks, they want the world to understand the truth about their disorder.
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