Books dealing with mental health

This week marks the beginning on National Mental Health Awareness Month so we handpicked a few books dealing with different disorders.

  1. Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn
    Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

    Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome – Munchausen’s by Proxy, the systematic infliction of illness of a child so the mother can look like a saint and benefit from the attendant approbation and attention. Book: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

Camille Preasker is a middling reporter on a fourth rate newspaper in Chicago, not quite living up to her potential when news of two sensational murders in her small Missouri hometown comes across the wires. Her editor sends her off, hoping to inspire her to the greatness he believes her capable of, and boosting the paper’s reputation as well. The murders–two thirteen year old girls, killed about a year apart, and all their teeth pulled out. To secure her future, Camille has to return to her past.

There are a myriad of mental diseases in this book. I’ve pinpointed the main theme, but there is also self-harm involved, depression, bullying and ganging up on a single helpless victim.

The_Perks_of_Being_a_Wallflower_Stephen_Chbosky2.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie stands on the fringes of life but learns what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming of age story, but, it is also a story about family secrets and abuse and about how Charlie must confront his past to claim his infinite future.

White_Oleander_PICE30193. White Oleander by Janet Fitch 

This is such a beautifully written story. So simple, the words arranged to please the ear, one after the other, melodic in their cadence and rhythm. But Astrid’s is not a pretty story. Read about depression, loneliness, manipulation and the abuse in the foster system in America as seen through the eyes of a teenager.

4. Of Mice and Men – Steinbeck

One of the best books dealing with mental disabilities in the 1930’s is “Of Mice and Men”. Steinbeck is implying that those with a peer-endangering mental disability should be locked up, or opposite, that the mentally disabled should not be blamed for the actions they make. He also points about how the mentally disabled are separated from the rest of the world and the consequences they face for a condition they were born with.

If you’re an underdog, mentally disabled, physically disabled, if you don’t fit in, if you’re not as pretty as the others, you can still be a hero. – Steve Guttenberg

5. Alzheimer’s Disease – Water for Elephants

Water_for_elephantsJacob and the Elephants have something in common. In the circus, both have been underfed, neglected and left for the whims of a bully, a person in charge that will beat them if they did not do as they were told. In the early stages, Jacob is suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia where people tend to forget who they are and where they were. I believe the lashing out at the nursing home wasn’t as much anger due to the elephant aspect, but it was a reminder of the pain Jacob felt carrying the burden of caring for his lost loves.

Jacob hates to look in the mirror because he sees an old man in there and this startles him. It’s well known that with Alzheimer’s disease, people often are startled by the person they see in the mirror because they don’t recognize themselves, for the same reasons they often don’t recognize their loved ones. I don’t believe this is Jacob’s problem. I think he is just like most of us. His brain retains the image of a younger Jacob, and he “forgets” that he’s a very old man – until he looks in a mirror. – See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/alzheimers/c/62/12944/water-ending/#sthash.0riExzj0.dpuf

6. Anorexia in Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls
Lia and Cassie are best friends, frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to hope make Wintergirls a powerful read about the brutal grip of anorexia.

206947737. Post-natal depression – After Birth by Elisa AlbertAlbert never explicitly names postpartum depression in her 2015 novel on a woman in the first year of motherhood, but Ari’s resentment over her experience of childbirth, alienation from the rest of the world, and complicated feelings about her son ring true to the dark and confusing period that often comes, well, after birth.“A baby opens you up, is the problem. No way around it unless you want to pay someone else to have it for you. There’s before and there’s after. To live in your body before is one thing. To live in your body after is another. Some deal by attempting to micromanage; some go crazy; some zone right the hell on out. Or all of the above.”
― Elisa Albert, After Birth

 

8. Depression – Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum

hausfrauDepression is not something that can be ‘fixed’ with something as easy as finding a new hobby or making new friends, or having an affair.  Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

9. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

roundhouse

The Round House tells the story of 13-year-old Joe, who is forced to grow up too soon after his mother is brutally attacked.

Joe is thirteen the year his mother is brutally attacked and raped. She is traumatized and terrified, and won’t discuss the details of the crime. As his father, a tribal judge, tries to use official channels to find and punish his wife’s attacker, Joe watches his mother slip further and further away into solitude and seclusion. With answers not forthcoming and his father’s efforts constantly blocked by complicated questions of reservation and U.S. jurisdiction, Joe enlists his friends to help with his own investigation.

Erdrich gives poignant insight into the daily manifestation of PTSD, and offers sympathetic perspective of what it’s like to care about someone struggling with it.

10. Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

Alias grace“Alias Grace.” – the protagonist – is a historical figure, the notorious Grace Marks, a handsome but hapless Irish immigrant who worked as a scullery maid in Toronto in the 1840’s. At the age of 16, she was convicted of abetting the brutal murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and his pregnant housekeeper and paramour, Nancy Montgomery. The question of Grace’s innocence or guilt has always been in some doubt — a matter that Ms. Atwood deftly re-examines through the lens of what we have since learned about the traumatized psyche.

Who better to tackle this puzzle than Simon Jordan, a well-meaning young doctor from Massachusetts employed by a committee of pious do-gooders petitioning the Canadian Government to pardon the unfortunate and (after 15 years in prisons and asylums) possibly rehabilitated Grace? Despite the confession extracted from her at the time of her arrest, she claims to have no memory of her part in the murders committed by the surly hired hand, James McDermott, her co-worker and purported lover. Was she an active participant or a horrified witness? Fired by scientific curiosity, armed with the latest theories about mental illness, Dr. Jordan sets out to help Grace retrieve the memories that shock and damage have erased.

blogger-image-116072932311. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Dear Amy, Helen Callaghan – a book about the survivor of a serial killer and child molester who, in order to hide her severe trauma, develops dissociative amnesia and takes in a new personality of her deceased friend.
Some memories are too harsh to live with – being locked in a cellar, beaten and tortured by a pedophile, barely escaping death, running through a forest while being chased by a mad man – these are not things any living being should remember. Bethany hides everything away and assumes, upon the overdose of her friend, a new life, a new name, a new history. She believes so firmly in her new identity that only fugue states can bring Bethany back up to the surface from the depths of her subconscious mind – this time to find the killer as he kidnapped his newest victim.

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4 Comments

  1. Omg this is such a nice post !! :O I DIDNT KNOW WATER FOR ELEPHANTS had Alzheimers disease as a theme ! Its even more interesting now. I wish I could read more books about mental health ! I’m studying in psychology and its definetely a great theme and subject to explore, thank you for sharing ! – Trang

    1. It’s a side-theme, along with growing old and loosing contact with your family, doubting your memories and the inability to yield the same presence than you did when you were younger. It’s the 91 or maybe 93-year old’s theme of not actually knowing who they are anymore.

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