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Is There No Place on Earth for Me?

by Susan Sheehan

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275478,843 (3.9)22
This renowned journalist's classic Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of schizophrenia--now reissued with a new postscript--follows a flamboyant and fiercely intelligent young woman as she struggles in the throes of mental illness. "Sylvia Frumkin" was born in 1948 and began showing signs of schizophrenia in her teens. She spent the next seventeen years in and out of mental institutions. In 1978, reporter Susan Sheehan took an interest in her and, for more than two years, became immersed in her life: talking with her, listening to her monologues, sitting in on consultations with doctors--even, for a period, sleeping in the bed next to her in a psychiatric center. With Sheehan, we become witness to Sylvia's plight: her psychotic episodes, the medical struggle to control her symptoms, and the overburdened hospitals that, more often than not, she was obliged to call home. The resulting book, first published in 1982, was hailed as an extraordinary achievement: harrowing, humanizing, moving, and bitingly funny. Now, some two decades later, Is There No Place on Earth for Me? continues to set the standard for accounts of mental illness.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Clear a spot on your calendar because this book will completely absorb you for 48 hours! A writer follows the frustrating and jagged path of a schizophrenic woman through the New York mental health system over decades. Originally appearing as serial articles, the text was never given a vigorous re-edit, so the chronology is a little confusing. However, I think this enhances the merry-go-round heartbreak of this woman's life: institutional admissions, bad drug therapy, huffy exits, broken beginnings, failed ventures, and exasperated family. The family in this case is thankful to push for more openness about the nature and social responses to mental illness. If you have anyone in your life who ever struggled to stay mentally healthy for any reason, you should read this book. ( )
  LaurelPoe | Dec 25, 2017 |
Interesting story. Although it is a bit dry and clinical in places, the story is sometimes humerous and Sylvia says some pretty funny things. It is amazing what was done to her in the name of psychiatry. ( )
  Rob.Larson | Aug 5, 2011 |
When I found this book at the library in 2009, I wasn't expecting anything miraculous or amazing. I had tried to read books on schizophrenia and schizophrenics before, and had been sorely disappointed. What I found surprised me.

Susan Sheehan's tale of the life of one schizophrenic woman in a New York psychiatric hospital is enlightening and heart-breaking. It was amazing. The beauty of the book is that Sheehan seems to be the only person who doesn't judge Sylvia Frumkin (real name: Maxine Mason). Frumkin's decent into madness is chronicled as well in the book as you would imagine it being captured in a film documentary.

It is colorful. It is beautiful. It is probably the most wonderful book that most people have never heard of. ( )
  janersm | Jan 8, 2011 |
This is a difficult book to read. It's filled with a lot of back history of the mental health system in New Jersey in the late 70's. On the other hand, Sheehan tells a truely sad story of a woman suffering from schizophrenia being shuttled from hosptial to hospital, doctor to doctor, medicine to medicine with no one knowing exactly how to help her. The book is a remarkable expose of how uncaring the health industry, and the world at large, is towards treating and caring for mentally ill people. ( )
  cbertz | May 7, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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This renowned journalist's classic Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of schizophrenia--now reissued with a new postscript--follows a flamboyant and fiercely intelligent young woman as she struggles in the throes of mental illness. "Sylvia Frumkin" was born in 1948 and began showing signs of schizophrenia in her teens. She spent the next seventeen years in and out of mental institutions. In 1978, reporter Susan Sheehan took an interest in her and, for more than two years, became immersed in her life: talking with her, listening to her monologues, sitting in on consultations with doctors--even, for a period, sleeping in the bed next to her in a psychiatric center. With Sheehan, we become witness to Sylvia's plight: her psychotic episodes, the medical struggle to control her symptoms, and the overburdened hospitals that, more often than not, she was obliged to call home. The resulting book, first published in 1982, was hailed as an extraordinary achievement: harrowing, humanizing, moving, and bitingly funny. Now, some two decades later, Is There No Place on Earth for Me? continues to set the standard for accounts of mental illness.

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