Category Archives: Book Review

我穿越疯狂的旅程:一个精神分裂症患者的故事

在吉隆坡的书局找不到这本书,所以去中国工作的时候,请那里的同事帮我买的,人民币40元。有兴趣看的人,可以和我借,或网上买。

By Elyn R. Saks

By Elyn R. Saks

情况允许的情况下,我不爱看翻译书,但是这次却选择了看这本原著英文的中文书,其中是为了一些病人还有他们的家属,希望我可以给他们介绍一些这类型的中文书,而我之前看过的都是有英文版。如果读者还有知道任何关于精神疾病患者自传的书的介绍,请留言让我知道,谢谢!

大部分时候,广大民众听说的精神分裂患者,一般都是在新闻上,显然这些新闻报道的也不是关于他们的什么好事情,通常都是一些伤害了自己或别人的新闻,也很容易让人误以为精神分裂或精神疾病患者就是有暴力倾向,对社会造成危害(研究显示,事实并非如此,甚至相反)。

而本书的作者,是一名法学院和精神病学教授,明显发病的时候,还是一名大学生。所以,是的,她在“成为一名精神病患者”后,再经历多年的坚持和努力,经历无数的挫折,才有今天的生活,依旧正在吃抗精神药物和进行谈话治疗。

这本书蛮厚的,同时也表示她写得挺仔细,其中她在早期也患有厌食症(anorexia)、强迫症(OCD)、抑郁症(depression)、疑病症(hypochondria也称“健康焦虑症”health anxiety)。它不只帮助读者更了解精神分裂症从患病初期,否定诊断拒绝治疗等,到后期的选择性接受,整个心理路程与经历,也可以从患者的角度,去看到社会、医疗、教育等的不公。

作者谈到住院经历(身体和四肢长时间被固定在床上):

在我最后的两次住院经理中,医生对我的预后诊断分别是“很差”和“危重“。假如没有那些非常熟练的、非常敬业的谈话治疗师–精神分析师–对我进行治疗,那么我肯定还停留在医院所预言的那种悲惨的生活之中。

关于接受这个疾病并与它共处余生,

如果你是一位患有精神疾病的人,你所面临的挑战是找到适合你的生活。然而,事实上,难道这不是我们所有人所面临的挑战吗?无论我们是否患有精神疾病。我的幸运之处不是我已经从精神疾病中康复。我还没有康复,我也将永远不能康复。我的幸运之处在于:我已经找到了自己的生活。

A Beautiful Mind (2001/film)

I categorised this post under “book review”, though there is a book under this same title, I’m writing about the 2001 film, directed by Ron Howard.

The book/film is based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel prize winner in Economic sciences, who was diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia, with delusions and hallucinations.

I started to watch the film without knowing it has anything to do with mental illnesses, just thought it’s just another biographical film (like one that I just watched last week, “The man who knew infinity”, based on the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, an Indian mathematical genius).

It is a film portraying paranoid schizophrenia well, so well that when we, as audience see things through the eyes of Russel Crowe (John Nash), we might not even realise that those are all delusions and hallucinations, and couldn’t differentiate that those are not even reality.

The film also emphasises the importance of family supports and continuation of medication (which according to some sources of the web, is not based on what John Nash really did). During the later part of his life, he got on without taking any medicine, would still hallucinate but just do not respond to them. This is the part that I personally like in particular, sometimes medicine may not stop all the hallucinations completely, but when you’re aware which is reality and which aren’t, you can carry on with life, with them being there. There was a scene when a man approached him, and he had to ask his student who walked past, “Can you see him?”, to make sure that the man was real, not his hallucination!

I’d recommend it to family and friends of those who are diagnosed as schizophrenia, it does help understanding the illness better to quite an extent, and of course for those who’d like to understand the illness better.

Introducing “Recovered Grace: Schizophrenia”

by Harris Ng Yoke Meng

This book was bought from MPH at RM38 many years ago. It is now no longer available in most of the major bookstores in Malaysia, but I believe it’s possible to order it at MPH or Kinokuniya.

The book serves as an inspirational story to sufferers of mental illness and their caregivers, and for me, more importantly and personally as a mental health professional, it helps us to care for the mentally ill more sensitively and effectively.

I remember Harris talked about revealing his illness to his then 3 month girl friend Violet, on a Valentine’s day, how she was shocked and then willingly going to see his psychiatrist together. This reminds me a lot about the patients in our clinic, who sometimes bring their new partner to see us, wanting their partner to understand their illness better and sometimes planning their future based on that. You might guess that experience like this would scare them off, but no, quite often, those partners are just like Violet in the book, having deep love and attachment for the patient that they can also accept this part of them.

Towards the end of the book there was also some discussions on the media’s portrayals of the mentally ill committing crimes, which often end in homicide, murder or suicide.

Such bizarre stories, though real, often stigmatise the sickness. Although there are hundreds of thousands of mental health cases, perhaps only one in a thousand end up in such a mess. The press much provide follow-up reports. What happened after that? … Should society continue to view mental illness with deadly fear?

What to do when one who suffers from mental illness committed crimes due to his mental states?

Introducing “The Quiet Room”

By Lori Schiller

By Lori Schiller

It is brilliant book, very informative, from the views of different persons (the patient herself, parents, brother, close friend/housemate during the onset, attending psychiatrist etc). It gave me a feeling that I could go into her head and understand, for example, why certain patients who clearly do hear voices denied it so strongly; how one might interpret those voices, so differently from practitioners’ way. In addition, it suggests the insight of how immediate family members handle the fact that their closed one is a “schizophrenic”, and not just pretending, manipulating or attention seeking.

Also here’s a great quote from her psychiatrist,

A long time ago I realized that, as psychiatrists, we had to have a healthy respect for our own humanness, and our own smallness in the face of what we were dealing with. If a person got better, we could appreciate that we had done a great job, but we also needed to realize that God – or luck – was on our side. If the person got worse, we had to keep ourselves from feeling that we hadn’t done enough. For the truth is, we were powerless in so many of these situations. We did what we could, but sometimes the illness was just bigger than we were.

And from the mother,

How many times over the past few years had I wondered why we had fought so hard to keep Lori alive. She was so miserable. She was so unhappy. She was only staying alive to please us. …

介绍书:<善生>

问了几间大众书局分行才买到的这本书,售价RM28 (可凭书局会员获得10%折扣)。看过作者在脸书分享读者的读后感,外加朋友也介绍,所以想看看。

一直以来也觉得自己很缺乏这方面的助人经验(严格上来说,自己的亲身体验更是缺乏)。还记得回马后刚开始上班的三、四个月,就有一名我有份参与治疗的患者自杀过世,一年多后,也有一名电话追踪了几个月的抑郁患者放弃自己的生命(我曾两次以这个个案为例撰写文章**)。我一直没有很仔细去体验这些悲伤与失落,只是轻描淡写让它过去,继续生活,继续工作,继续吃喝,继续玩乐,偶尔想起,默默、轻轻地哀伤。

只是后来我也意识到自己对临终关怀、丧亲者陪伴方面的知识缺乏,去听了苏绚慧和冯以量的讲座,再看了他们的一些书,慢慢多了一些体会和理解。而这本书,文字不多,都是些真实的小故事,说些陪伴丧亲者、在生命的结束延续与亡者的关系、允许悲伤失落、悲而不痛的真实小故事。确实真实,细腻,却不做作。尤其对于不爱看满页文字的人更是适合。

作者冯以量

作者冯以量

 

**两篇关于这名已故病人的文章:

Depression & ECT

Can we allow a severely depressed patient to make the decision?

Introducing “David & Goliath” (2013)

“We would like to know who the person or persons [who killed our daughter] are, so we could share, hopefully, a love that seems to be missing in these people’s lives”

The full story about this quote is in the non-fiction, “David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants” by Malcolm Gladwell. This is the second time I’m reading his book (the first was “Outliers: The story of Success“), which was also a Christmas present from the UK.

Of course it’s not just about one true story, but this one mentioned above in particular strikes me a little more. His book is again, thought-provoking, counter-intuitive, entertaining, intriguing, based on scientific evidence and real stories. I can’t say better words for it. Do get a copy and read it. (I happen to have two copies as my friend sent it to me two years in a row, so if you’d like a free copy just get it from me).

By Malcolm Gladwell

By Malcolm Gladwell