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The Centre Cannot Hold: A Memoir of My Schizophrenia - Book Review

The Letter, Issue 47, Summer 2011, Pages 95 - 97



Marion Deane

The Centre Cannot Hold: A Memoir of My Schizophrenia

Elyn R. Saks.

Virago Press, London 2007.

Elyn Saks lives with her husband in California, where, after a brilliant academic career in some of the world‘s most acclaimed universities on both sides of the Atlantic—Vanderbilt, Oxford and Yale— she is now a professor of law specialising in mental health. She works also as a research scholar in psychoanalysis. In the final chapter of her memoir The Centre Cannot Hold she expresses her gratitude to the many people and events that have assisted her to have a 'life worth living‘ despite decades of suffering from schizophrenia. Accepting the fact that she will never be cured, she illustrates how through their influence, she gradually gained a measure of stability that allowed her to manage her illness and achieve her expressed desires, most notably, success in love and in work. The authenticity of her account, drawn from a combination of her acquired expertise as a professional and the life-long torment that is the trademark of the illness itself, finds expression in the almost documentary precision, with which she writes about the full range of her condition, from its little 'quirks‘ to the full blown psychosis.

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