A Case of Hysteria

Maybe She's Born With It

First-hand narratives by formerly institutionalized patients reveal the mysterious inner workings of the human brain. Elyn Saks, winner of a MacArthur “Genius” grant and founder of USC’s Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics, knew from an early age that there was something haunting her emotional well being. She has publicly acknowledged her struggle to balance bouts of schizophrenia with academic pursuits. Her 2007 autobiography The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness describes her harrowing experience being physically restrained and force-fed antipsychotic medication for five months in a psychiatric ward. Recent memoirs by both Ellen Forney and Rachel Lindsay about their mutual struggles with bipolar disorder take the form of graphic novels. While the nature of the medium lends at times a light-hearted approach to the dark subject matter of medication and therapy, Lindsay offers a sobering reminder that “You won’t know the shape of your own unraveling until it happens.”

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