A deeply personal and well-researched book of essays, The Collected Schizophrenias deserves every ounce of praise it has received leading up to its publication. The author's experiences with the complexities and effects of her mental illness are detailed with a relatable frustration and vulnerable honesty. With a background in both science and the arts, the insights Wang shares are compelling on multiple levels, and she leaves the reader with new perspective and compassion for something commonly misunderstood.— Kelly
“The Collected Schizophrenias is a heartbreaking and honest collection about chronic mental illness and its effects on Wang. Through personal narrative and scientific research, Wang has created a collection of essays that are challenging in the sense that they confront you with the reality of a misunderstood condition. Her mission is not to scare, shock, or make the reader feel sorry for her, but to create an environment where mental illness is better understood and destigmatized within our culture. An eye-opening collection of essays from a truly exceptional writer.”
— Katie Kucek, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
Powerful, affecting essays on mental illness, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and a Whiting Award
An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esm Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the "collected schizophrenias" but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community's own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang's analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.