The center cannot hold; my journey through madness [Audiobook]
Elyn R. Saks ; Read by Alma Cuervo
Recorded Books, 10 cds. 12.5 hrs.; Vinyl; content notes., $123.75. 2007
Betsy Woodman (KLIATT Review, March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)) What would you think if a brilliant classmate or friend suddenly started asking if you’d ever killed anyone, and said that she had done so, lots of times? Or if she claimed that she used to be God but got demoted? This is what Elyn R. Saks told her horrified friends, and things only got worse. Saks started having bizarre symptoms as a teenager, and still managed to do well in high school and college. But as a graduate student at Oxford and later at Yale Law School, she underwent severe psychotic breakdowns. Few of us know what the experience of madness--or the resulting hospitalization--feels like, but this memoir makes it all too real. It is also an indictment of how brutal psychiatric care can be, at least in the US of the 1970s and 1980s. Saks was physically restrained, often roughly, and forced to take medication without adequate explanation. (In England, she found the treatment much more humane--and very much more affordable.) Saks’s illness never disappeared, but thanks to medication and psychotherapy it was largely controlled. Through talent and astounding grit, she completed her studies, attained a teaching position, and has enjoyed significant professional success. She married and has had a fulfilling life. Stage, film, and television actress Cuervo gives a fine reading. Her clear, silvery voice grips our attention, and with empathy and drama, she conveys Saks’s pain, terror, and determination to prevail. We enter Saks’s mind, both when it is sick and when it is well, and we understand how severe, lifelong illness and amazing talent and intelligence can exist in the same person. Cuervo’s excellent performance makes us root for Saks, lets us know her as a person, and makes us thankful that her center finally did indeed hold. Category: Nonfiction Audiobook. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2007, Recorded Books, 10 cds. 12.5 hrs.; Vinyl; content notes., $123.75. Ages 15 to adult.