This is a valuable addition to the field as a view from inside the world of schizophrenia. The personal experiences are rich in detail giving a multi-faceted view of paranoid delusions. One is drawn into the world of delusional thinking and the descriptions of his experiences are presented in an informative and objective way.
Unfortunately the author did not seem to have access to services providing more formal and systematic psychological help or insight. Consequently, the picture of causality and treatment presented is restricted to the biological and advocates the view that the most effective and perhaps only treatment is medication, while at the same time highlighting the see-saw of this treatment method as well as the myriad side effects. The view of Schizophrenia being a disease of the brain is one-sided and echoes rhetoric from earlier times.
Although there are a few pages on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and other therapies and a section referred to as psychological counselling, the intensive research into the role and efficacy of CBT, family therapy and other therapies in psychosis is not acknowledged. Although Early Intervention services have played a key part in the treatment of psychosis for the best part of a decade in the UK, only passing comment is made in the final chapter of the book. Without including a clearer and more in depth perspective of these treatment modalities, the picture presented is unbalanced.
The author’s descriptive style mirrors mental health stereotypes and psychiatric terminology, which makes it sound somewhat stylised and formal at times. Also repetitive in places, the book nonetheless provides a readable and stark picture of the experience of psychosis: from the development of intermittent symptoms and on into full blown psychosis including relapse and the concomitant, common, self-defeating thinking styles. It presents a disquieting and real picture of the sheer number of and interplay between symptoms, as well as a personal view of the social dimensions and consequences of schizophrenia.
His descriptions of in-patient hospital stays illustrate the good and the bad, the use of medication in the in-patient setting and the effect other patients had on him.
The book would have been more digestible had it covered only his personal experiences, as the technical information adds unnecessary heaviness. This information can be accessed in a more systematised form from the appropriate technical books and journals. Biological and psychosocial research in this field is rigorous, cutting edge and some of the technical information provided may well be obsolete in a relatively short while.
He provides an important section on socialisation that reflects the stepped nature of the process, but the personal quality becomes lost in the midst of substantial generic information.
He raises a very good point about the important role of heath advocates who maintain a watchful eye on the person for several years after remission and also act as part of the step-down process after discharge from mental health services.
The welcome section on living with schizophrenia addresses the questions of stigma and prejudice. Some useful pointers in combating these within society are provided. Unfortunately the author again overstates a generic and scientific review, which although having merit confounds the value of the book as a first hand account of schizophrenia.
What could have been a truly excellent addition to the library has unfortunately been diluted by the inclusion of several technical/scientific sections and generic information at the expense of an experiential narrative. Notwithstanding the possibility that the author was trying to cover too many aspects, the book is certainly worth reading by both professionals and interested non-professionals.
Leo Uzych - MA in Public Health
The Split Mind is a book about schizophrenia. The reader is informed in the book's "Introduction" that the author, Kevin Alan Lee, has schizophrenia. The reader is informed further, in the book's introductory chapter, that Lee wishes to share his life experiences, and by so doing, hopefully help others. Towards that end, Lee describes the book, in the "Foreword", as a hybrid of a memoir and a reference book, regarding schizophrenia. And indeed, the textual tapestry is crafted artfully with autobiographical anecdotal threads interwoven deftly with strands of didactically reviewed scientific materials focusing especially on schizophrenia. The substantive contents, in a manner contributing further to the reader's edification, are suffused as well with thoughtfully critical opinions and a plethora of practical suggestions.
In an intellectually enlightening manner, the text's contents are considerably research referenced. In this regard, Lee's scope of schizophrenia centric research interest is global. Multitudinous citations, for research materials embedded in the textual soil, are presented in the "Bibliography", joined to the text's far end; these research citations are alphabetized, by author last name. The text's extensive Bibliography enhances its appeal, didactically, and is a didactic bridge, to further study.
Critical readers may question critically the relative scientific rigor, of Lee's review of selected scientific materials pertaining to schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses; and, in this vein, critically inject the opinion that Lee's review efforts are insufficiently rigorous, for academics and professionals.
But it cannot reasonably be gainsaid that the discourse of Lee, concerning particularly Lee's review of scientific materials, customarily reveals considerable erudition of a considerably instructive nature.
In a different critical vein, critical minded readers may inject criticism that the substance of the book is heavily laden, anecdotally, with autobiographical details of Lee's life, thus diluting its relative potency, from an academic perspective.
But the autobiographical matter forming anecdotally an integral part of the book's substantive composition animates the book's substance in an informative way that likely contributes materially to its value and appeal to many readers.
The end substantive result of Lee's diligently cerebral toil is an intellectually savory blend of the ingredients of anecdotally described, and substantively enlivening, personal details of Lee's life mixed with more generalized discourse, instructively reviewing selected scientific materials relevant especially to schizophrenia.
Across the length and breadth of the book, Lee informatively traverses considerable substantive ground. Particular areas reached encompass: selected personal details of Lee's early life (Chapter 2); the onset of Lee's schizophrenia, including sobering comment on Lee's delusions of paranoia and grandeur (Chapter 3); the prescribed drug regimen of Lee, including side effects, and Lee's problems with fatigue, concentration, and short term memory loss (Chapter 4); a pithily instructive review of some of the extant science regarding a multitude of mental illnesses (Chapter 5); the diagnosing of schizophrenia, extending to discussion of hallucinations, delusions, and "subtypes" of schizophrenia (Chapter 6); informative discourse focusing on possible causes of schizophrenia (Chapter 7); discerning comment on treating schizophrenia, reaching importantly to comment about the prescribing of antipsychotic medications and attendant clinical challenges (Chapter 8); psychological counseling (Chapter 9); edifying discussion concerning recovery from mental illness (Chapter 10); thoughtful commentary by Lee, riveting readers' attention on how schizophrenia patients may be able to maintain a state of remission (Chapter 11); thoughtfully opinionated comment regarding stigma associated with schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses (Chapter 12); the area of children and adolescents with schizophrenia (Chapter 13); and Lee's forthrightly presented view with respect to mental illness, personal autonomy, and refusal of treatment (Chapter 14).
Cautious voices may sound notes concerning Lee's book.
It may be noted, cautiously, that the life experience of every person with schizophrenia is unique.
A further note of caution is that expert views relating to schizophrenia may diverge from those given by Lee.
On the other side of the ledger, the many autobiographical details recollected anecdotally by Lee, in tandem with Lee's skilled review of numerous schizophrenia centric research materials, offer a dual personal as well as research perspective, concerning schizophrenia, which will very likely be of great educational value to many readers.
Persons with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, and their family members, certainly have much to gain educationally from reading this book.
The likely great educational value of Lee's book extends further to researchers and clinicians working professionally in the mental health field.
Health policy makers and law makers, likewise, potentially have much to gain, professionally, from a carefully considered reading of this very fine book.