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Sleepwalker: The Mysterious Makings and…

Sleepwalker: The Mysterious Makings and Recovery of a Somnambulist

by Kathleen Frazier

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I am a lifelong sleepwalker and thought I would love this memoir, but I found it pretty frustrating, for a few reasons.

First, the author repeatedly (and I think unintentionally) conflates sleepwalking with mental illness, even though they are not at all the same. There is some acknowledgment of this at the end of the book, but the author continuously identifies sleepwalking as the source of many of her problems, when it is clear that nearly all of her problems (including her deep fear of being seen sleepwalking) stemmed from an abusive childhood, alcoholism, truly incredible issues with self-doubt and self-hatred, and a pathological obsession with how she is perceived by others.

Second, and this gets to personal reading preferences, the book contains many long passages wherein the author details her nights spent awake, her troubled thoughts, and her nightmares. I found these sections to be tedious and repetitive. If you like reading accounts of disordered thinking, these sections might be more interesting to you, but I found them boring and frustrating.

I have a great deal of sympathy for the author; she had a hard life. But this book is not really about sleepwalking. I have sleepwalked for my entire life, and when I do not take medication for it, I sleepwalk nearly every night. It is a frustrating and occasionally dangerous problem to have, but it became a much larger issue for the author because of her comorbid conditions, like alcoholism and mental health issues that caused her to suffer from severely low self-esteem. She blamed her problems on sleepwalking when it seemed that sleepwalking was among the least of her concerns.

A few positives: The author's descriptions of sleepwalking, night terrors, and waking up from an episode are very accurate. Additionally, she was successfully treated for sleepwalking, which is important for people to read. ( )
  slug9000 | Jan 14, 2017 |
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