Briefly Noted Book Reviews | The New Yorker


The Collected Schizophrenias, by Esmé Weijun Wang (Graywolf). This essay collection explores schizophrenia, “the archetypal disorder of lunacy,” as a sociopolitical, medical, and personal phenomenon. Wang was given a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder nearly a decade after her first incidence of psychosis, at Yale. Drawing on scientific literature, pop culture, and her own experience, she discusses a range of conditions affecting some five per cent of Americans; her account of Cotard delusion, a belief that one is dead, is especially moving. Wang indicts the medical establishment for its shortcomings in treating mental illness and describes living with an unfixed reality. Fragmented by design, the book’s structure heightens the immediacy of its testimony but often occludes its inquiry into wider issues.

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