“”Sartre claimed, ‘We are our choices,’ but what has a person become when it’s assumed that said person is innately incapable of choice?” In the vein of previous winners of the Graywolf nonfiction prize—Leslie Jamison and Eula Biss—comes Esmé Weijun Wang. From confronting biases and alleged objectivity in hard-science psychology, to how universities like Yale distance themselves from students seeking help, Wang writes about what it means to struggle with the boundaries of mental health. In addition to being one of the most informative and well-researched narratives I’ve read, it’s an incredible resource. A rare book for both first-time inquirers of mental health and those who’ve lived with it all their lives. I can’t wait to see what Wang writes next.”
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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 Esmé 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.