Collected Schizophrenias: Essays, The

Esmé Weijun Wang
Powerful, affecting essays on mental illness, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and a Whiting AwardAn 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.


Reviewed: 2020-01-12

Fascinating set of essays by the author on how her life has been affected my schizoaffective disorder. As someone who has researched and treated individuals with this condition in the past, I’m always interested in reading a first hand account on how someone experiences psychosis as well as their “baseline” mental health day to day. The author is a lovely writer, and I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about mental health.

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