Sunday, July 5, 2015

Same Time Next Week - Leo Gutkind

Sub-title: True stories of working through mental illness

Leo Gutkind is the editor of this group of essays from therapists and patients dealing with mental illness that I picked up from the library.  I want to see if I can take a class from Gutkind since he teaches at ASU, one motivation for reading this book.

I found the contrast of the therapist's viewpoint and the patients worthwhile insight and would recommend the book for anyone touched by mental disease.  One theme is clear; regardless of the therapy, therapist, patient or diagnosis, dealing with mental illness is most successful when compassion and human connection is the priority.

One therapist early in the book sums it up, saying:

"...some people benefit greatly from a good therapist; some from finding the right medication; some, from a seemingly spontaneous improvements; some, from a combination of the above.  Having a loving and responsive mother or significant parental figures seems to be preventive, having a loving and caring adult partner is restorative.  Progress seldom comes in a straight line: courage determination, and patience are required in large measure."

I learned from another writer that a mother having the flu during pregnancy is a risk for schizophrenia:

"...up to 14% of schizophrenia cases would not have occurred had influenza in early to mid-pregnancy been avoided, and the viruses and other infections in the first trimester of pregnancy could increase schizophrenia risk as much as 700%."

Some authors provided suggestions for connecting to someone suffering with mental illness that I thought was good advice for any interaction when trying to empathize:

"When John introduced himself by saying, 'I am not a schizophrenic,' I didn't confront the odd statement by saying, 'Are you concerned about being called a schizophrenic?'  Instead, I attempted to join him by saying, 'I am not a noun either.'  I wanted to relate rather than confront." [my emphasis added].

There was a story about the effects of exposure to violence, even on TV or video games is harming because the "images seem to remain long active in the brain:

"...watching horror films lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in many young persons.  Many of these symptoms can linger for decades."

One of the last stories makes a meaningful point:

"every time we fall in love or make a friend, hold someone tight or choose a muffin, get pregnant or buy new underwear, paint a room or eat a sandwich; every choice we make to stay, to treat ourselves as valuable people, to connect more and more with this thing that can end only in loss, in death, loneliness, holey underwear or shit; every time we choose connection, we are risking loss.  But every time we do not chose connection, we are ensuring it."

Published:     Read: June-July 2015  Genre: Non-fiction

ISBN:9 781937 163198

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