of Mental Illness
Mental Health Association.
Moments. Vancouver, British Columbia:
C. M. H. A., B.C. Division, 1995.
This book is a compilation of
(1-2 page) descriptions, by mental health consumers, of special moments
in their lives. Each of the approximately two dozen mental health
consumers who contributed to the book tells, via prose or poetry, about
something of importance to his/her life or experience.
Casey, N. (2001). Unholy Ghost. New York: Harper
Collins Publishers, Inc.
This is a collection of 22 essays written about depression. It
includes personal experiences of one's own struggle with depression as
well as the personal experiences of those with companions struggling
Emily. Just Checking: Scenes From the Life of an
York: Pocket Books, 1998.
what it is like to live with Obssessive Compulsive Disorder. Through a
series of brief vignettes that are both compelling and entertaining,
author describes her obsessive fears of contamination and the rituals
compel, as well as the toll those symptoms took on her life.
Patty & Hochman, Gloria.
A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic-Depressive
Illness. New York: Bantam Books, 1992.
the personal experience of a well-known Hollywood star who suffered
manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder. The book was the basis for the TV
movie, Call Me Anna. It includes a good review of the
aspects of Patty Duke's disorder, as well.
Jeffrey L. & Harris, Maxine. Women of the Asylum.
New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1994.
This book contains 26
accounts of women who were placed in mental institutions against their
will. The writings are organized according to four time periods
1840 and 1945, with each section introduced by commentary from the
Marc & Hauser, Alisa.
Images From Within: Portraits of People Confronting
Mental Illness. IL: High Tide, 1999.
This unique book is not exactly
autobiographical account. It is a serious of photographs of
with mental illnesses in ordinary settings, by a photographer known for
his photographic portraits of famous people. Each
is accompanied by quotes from the subjects. Together, the
and statements represent people with mental illnesses with dignity,
hope, and humanity.
Kay Redfield. An Unquiet Mind. New York.: A.A. Knopf, 1995.
Psychologist Kay Jamison is a
author and researcher on bipolar disorder and on the possible links
mental illness and creativity. In this best-selling book, she recounts
her own history of bipolar illness, combining the perspectives of
therapist, and researcher.
Bert (Editor). The Inner World of Mental Illness. New
Harper & Row, 1964.
This book is a compilation of
by people with mental illnesses. Some of these observations were
written as long ago as 1840. Some were recovered from scraps of
discovered in psychiatric hospitals. And some come from more
sufferers of psychiatric disorder, such as Leo Tolstoi and Vaslav
The book is out of print, however, and may be difficult to locate.
Susanna. Girl, Interrupted. New York: Random House, 1993.
Writer Kaysen describes her
of psychiatric hospitalization as a teenager in the 1960s. She offers
and powerful observations about patienthood and psychiatric practice.
House also offers an Audiobook, with Kaysen reading her own account. In
addition, the book has been made into a movie, with Winona Rider in the
Knipfel, Jim. Quitting the Nairobi Trio. New York:
Putnam Press, 2000.
The author, a reporter for ……,
his experiences of psychiatric hospitalization. Knipfel recounts
both the bizarre behaviors and beliefs that led to his hospitalizations
and the details of his admission and treatment. With wit and incisive
he conveys the experiences of being in need of care, of being cared
and of being devalued and dehumanized by even well-meaning caregivers
First person account of a two year stay on a psychiatric ward. Her
memoir portrays the close bonds and rivalries among adolescent
patients, the politics and routines of the institution, the extensive
use of medication, and the prevalence of life-altering misdiagnoses.
Lewis describes her emergence into adulthood in the institution and her
struggle to overcome institutionalization.
Martha. Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface. New York:
The author, a clinical
describes her struggle with depression. The book is written with both
and insight. It helps readers to understand what it is like to
depression, how difficult it can be to accept treatment for such a
and how it is possible to cope and overcome the problem.
J. & Simmie, S. (2002). Beyond Crazy: Journeys through
Mental Illness. Toronto:
The Canadian Publishers.
Crazy is a collection of
inspirational stories of Canadians from all walks of life who have
with mental illness. The authors tell of how their lives were affected
mental illness and how they were able to overcome their obstacles and
to lead successful lives.
Dale (Editor). A Mad People's History of Madness.
of Pittsburgh Press, 1982.
This book examines the history of
of people with mental illnesses from 1436-1976 by means of excerpts
the writings of those who received such treatment. It includes
from a patient in the infamous Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam), from the
Russian dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky, and from successful author Mark
It is a unique history presented through the eyes of individuals as
experienced it. Unfortunately, the book is out of print and may
some searching to find.
Saks, E.R. (2007).
Center Cannot Hold. New
R. Saks recounts her
experiences living with schizophrenia. With the help of psychoanalytic
and medication, Saks has been able to live a life full of creative
and friendships. She is now a professor of law and psychiatry at the University of Southern California.
Sattleret. al. Abnormal Psychology in Context: Voices and
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
This book is a collection of
accounts and narratives written by individuals who themselves have had
psychiatric disorders of various kinds. It was written to serve
a companion text for college psychology courses, adding the voices of
persons describing their experiences in their own words to the usual
description of symptoms and diagnosis. Comments by therapist and
relatives of those with mental disorders are included as well.
Lori & Bennett, A. The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment
of Madness. New York: Warner Books, 1994.
Lori Schiller's nearly 20-year
with schizophrenia is described by her in this book. Her story provides
evidence for the value of persistence and determination and
that recovery is possible even for those whose disorders have been
resistant to change. The book also includes chapters by Ms. Schiller's
mother, father, and brother, revealing what it is like for family
to struggle with a serious mental illness in a loved one.
Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Madness.
New York: Random House, 2000.
excerpts from writings by women about mental illnesses. Some are
autobiographical accounts. Others are fictionalized versions of
authors' experiences, while one or two are observational accounts from
visits to psychiatric institutions. Authors featured in the book
include Sylvia Plath, Susanna Kaysen, Kate Millet, Dorthea Dix, Zelda
and Elizabeth Cochrane (Nellie Bly).
Simon, L. (2002). Detour:
My Bipolar Road Trip in 4-D. New York: Washington Square Press.
Author Lizzie Simon was diagnosed
with bipolar disorder as a teenager. Feeling as though something was
from her life, Lizzie left her dazzling career as a theater producer
set out on a road trip in search of a “herd of her own” and herself.
trip, part love story, Detour is a
memoir that may help to demystify mental illness.
Slater, L. (1998).
Diary. New York:
Penguin Putnam Inc.
Lauren Slater was one of the first
people to take the
drug Prozac for mental illness. Prozac
Diary is her account of how her life was transformed by the drug,
William. Darkness Visible. New York: Random House, 1990.
In this short but powerful book,
Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Sophie's Choice
his plunge into depression and helps readers to understand how
can make even the most successful life bleak and joyless.
Tracy. The Beast: A Journey Through Depression. New
York, Penguin Books, 1995.
In this book, newspaper reporter
Thompson describes her long struggle with depression, which she refers
to as "the Beast." Thompson describes her girlhood, her family,
the onset of depression relatively early in her life. She also
the persistent reoccurrence of depression throughout her lifetime, but,
at the same time, reveals her own perseverance, coping, and successes.
Cameron. First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple.
New York: Hyperion, 1999.
In this New York Times bestseller, Cameron West
his experience of Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple
At the close of book, West was still being treated for this condition,
which, according to the author, has involved the emergence of more than
20 different personalities.