The Collected Schizophrenias

The Collected Schizophrenias


Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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"--
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota :, Graywolf Press,, [2019]
ISBN: 9781555978273
Branch Call Number: 616.898 WA
Characteristics: 202 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 20, 2021

What can I say that hasnt been said already! I just picked up the book because I liked the cover and was curious about the subject matter....and I was pleasantly surprised by these essays! So interesting and important. Felt scientific but also like personal diary entries...I'm trying to dispell my ignorant ideas about mental illness and this was a great start into that. Would read again!

JCLFlanneryC Apr 03, 2020

I'm wary of the personal essay, the lyric essay, and all creative nonfiction out of MFA programs; however, I was extremely and pleasantly surprised by this book, which is rich and engrossing, and thwarted all my expectations. If you, like me, approach new nonfiction with caution, trust Esme Wang, who writes about her condition with clarity and humor. One of the best books about a personal experience with mental health, Wang manages to be relatable but an idiosyncratic character, averse to exaggeration, self-pity, or self-mythologizing.

Mar 06, 2020

Insightful window into what it is like to live with Bi-polar and schizophrenia affective disorder

Feb 13, 2020

This is a wonderfully intense and brave book; I'm glad that it exists, and I'm glad that I finally read it. Far from being condescending to less high-functioning people with psychotic illnesses, I think Wang asks us to look at ourselves: What are your signifiers of adulthood, success, mental health, worth…? We all use them, or intentionally spurn them to communicate a different message. I always appreciate a little critique of capitalism as well as the mental health industry (within which I work): “… employment remains the primary marker of someone who is high-functioning, as having a job is the most reliable sign that you can pass in the world as normal. Most critically, a capitalist society values productivity in its citizens above all else, and those with severe mental illness ae much less likely to be productive in ways considered valuable: by adding to the cycle of production and profit.” I appreciated Wang's exploration of the many facets of living with a mental illness, like the question of having a child. In considering how difficult it is to be the child of a mentally ill parent, it can be tempting to see the decision (or non-decision) to have a child as selfish, but that factors out the huge pressure that women experience to have children, as well as the biological imperative. I appreciated Wang's incisive observations like: “A fictional narrative is considered nuanced when it includes contradictions, but a narrative of trauma is ill-advised to do the same.”

Jan 31, 2020

I listened to about half of this book. This is a collection of essays describing the author's experience with mental illness. It didn't pull me in as I expected it would. I found my mind wandering a lot while listening so I didn't follow closely. I don't think this was a poorly written or uninteresting book. It may have been the pace of the writing or the cadence of the author's reading that I couldn't get into. This is most likely a case of reading a book at the wrong time in my life. Perhaps I will pick it up again later. Did not finish. • Audiobook • Non-fiction, Memoir • Listened on Scribd.▪️

Jan 02, 2020

too much of this book is the author desperately trying to prove how she is a "good crazy person". she loves to talk about the expensive clothes she wears and how she never leaves the house without lipstick. she is condescending toward other disabled people, shown in how she had to "dumb down" her speech for her peers, but left it unchanged when speaking to doctors. she does not examine the privilege she has in any real way and the entire book felt very surface level. I have to assume the praise it is receiving is because most people who read it do not have psychotic friends or family members.

I am constantly disturbed by the fact that the general public seems to prefer this type of work about disabled people, aka anything that reassures them that disabled people can assimilate into society just like "normal" people can. the author calms us by telling us she has her own business, that she's been married for 16 years, that she is sooooo smart and is pretty enough to be a former model. I was thinking that these facts were going to be set up to examine how ableist and unfair our society is, but that did not happen. I am unsure if the author even realizes how awful she comes across in this book.

I highly encourage people to read about cripple punk and other radical disabled movements instead of this book. it's time for "bad" disabled people to take center stage, and for society to accommodate US. we should not have to force ourselves to meet arbitrary able-bodied and neurotypical standards in order to be respected.

ArapahoeBethM Aug 25, 2019

I love this book for the fact that it was even written at all. So many people still shy away from the topic of mental illness, and those who suffer from these diseases are still shamed and ostracized. Wang treats the sufferers with so much respect, and her description of what it's like to have hallucinations or extreme paranoia is as close as most of us will ever get to understanding the experience. Her writing is flawless and flows beautifully. Love this book.

Aug 10, 2019

Wang's collection of essays looks at her experience as a person diagnosed with schizophrenia and the ways even mental health advocates can leave behind certain diagnoses and conditions. A rich, challenging, necessary book.

Jun 17, 2019

This is an excellent book. Her narrative is fascinating and she puts it in the context of the larger mental health treatment world. It is a valuable interface. Actually a page turner. Thank you for writing this book.

OPL_EllyR Jun 11, 2019

This may be the best nonfiction that I've read this year, and, in fact, is high in the running for best book overall. Wang's writing is dynamic and compelling, her stories varied and vivid. Mental health biographies can sometimes tend towards the confessional, but Wang remains in full command of her narrative, carefully shaping the intimate perspectives her readers are granted. Though the book clarifies certain parts of her experience, I was left in awe of the diversity of ways schizophrenias can play out, and of my own thorough misunderstanding of their possible origins and vast manifestations.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at APL

To Top