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Extended Audio Sample The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, by Elyn R. Saks Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,983 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elyn R. Saks Narrator: Alma Cuervo Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2016 ISBN: 9781428198760
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Professor of psychiatry Elyn R. Saks writes about her struggle with schizophrenia in this unflinching account of her mental illness. In The Center Cannot Hold, Saks draws readers into a nightmare world of medications, a misguided health care system, and social stigmas. But she would not be defeated. With a strength and force of will that most can only imagine, Saks reclaimed her life and went on to achieve great success. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steffaniebarnard | 2/20/2014

    " Elyn was the guest speaker at the ceremony for my masters degree. She was incredibly inspiring in her 6 minute speech (about battling schizophrenia her entire life while also trying to pursue a "normal" existence) and her book is nothing less than extraordinary. I recommend it to anyone wanting to gain perspective on what it's like to suffer with a mental illness, especially my fellow psychology colleagues. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margot | 2/19/2014

    " Wow! I'm amazed at the tenacity of the author. She has led an incredible life and her regrets are those any person might have leading a "normal" life. There are gaps in the book that I find disturbing... I'm not sure if they are do to her level of sanity during the time she experienced them, or whether she just didn't want to look more in depth at what she was discussing. I would have been interested in what her actual diagnosis was while she was at Oxford... for instance. All in all it was fascinating reading about her struggles and her methods of pulling herself up and forcing herself to achieve what she started out to do regardless of what her mind was up to. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 2/8/2014

    " Worth reading in case you ever wondered what it's like to be psychotic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan Grantham | 1/30/2014

    " I was blown away by this book. Elyn Saks is extremely accomplished, even in the "mentally healthy" world. To have someone of her professional caliber write intimately about her life's journey with this horrendous disease is a gift to all who struggle or have friends/family who struggle with schizophrenia. Her vivid descriptions of her psychotic epdisodes, her continuing hope/belief that she'd be able to live without meds, how her personal hygiene deteriorated as her psychosis reigned....all rang true for what I know about the disease. What struck me, however, was the few close friends and her spouse who were always by her side and understood her illness. To me, they seemed to the make the difference in her ability to find her way back from psychosis and move forward with the other parts of her life. Unfortunately, I think that most people living with schizophrenia do not have such social support. My only fear is that this book will serve to minimize the disease...i.e., thinking that Saks' experience is the norm rather than the exception for people living with this disease. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan Chamberlain | 1/16/2014

    " It is amazing that Saks was able to accomplish so much (including writing this memoir) while battling schizophrenia. If you have loved ones who suffer from this disease, this book may give you a rare glimpse into their world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/3/2014

    " I read this book several years ago and still think of it now and then, and I remember it better than books I read this year. It's an extremely powerful story not only of schizophrenia, but also of the legal and medical systems in America. It made me think about and imagine a life I never would have understood, even second-hand, otherwise. That's not to say it's my favorite book, or even an especially compelling story, but it was one of the most educational books I've ever read for pleasure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amelia | 1/1/2014

    " Must be read to be believed. This woman is like a freight train crushing all adversity and describes her pain vividly and openly. I am just glad its over because I was so absorbed in this book that I wasn't able to take care of my own life until I finished it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Najla | 12/29/2013

    " This book offers a glance at a schizophrenic mind. The author, herself, is diagnosed with schizophrenia and she tells her story through The Center Cannot Hold. I was really amazed by the fact that she has managed to lead an accomplished life in spite of her severe illness and all the suffering she went through; it is hard to have no control over your own thoughts. I also was shocked by the way she was treated in earlier stages of her illness by some US hospitals. But, I liked how she dedicated her research career into raising questions over issues concerning law and the mentally ill. It was really a good, well-written and a moving book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara Gray | 12/27/2013

    " Reading this book has changed my opinion of mental illness, and has helped me feel so much more compassion for those who struggle with thought disorders. I was also deeply impressed with Saks' incredible strength and determination--her ability to maintain composure and finish a ridiculous amount of high-level academic work (and at places like Oxford and Yale no less) while struggling with psychotic delusions and the aftereffects of weird medication seems nearly superhuman. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annabel Smyth | 12/26/2013

    " fantastic a definite must read, it is so well written... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Silvana | 12/13/2013

    " Mind opening, very informative, and hope-bringing. I loved this book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer Kenny | 11/16/2013

    " A very enlightening book on schizophrenia. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angela | 3/9/2013

    " Personal account of several bouts of acute schizophrenia. Brilliant author was in a highly stressful college program at the time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maria | 1/5/2013

    " Really amazing... Hard to put into words how good and dead-on this book is, despite the rarity of the author's outcome(success). Very inspiring. The blurb by Oliver Sacks (another great author) does a great job of summing it up :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Denise | 11/16/2012

    " Loved this book, esp. the idea that this could be me except that I'm not smart nor can I write. Okay, so nothing like me at all, but I liked the book. Schizophrenia exposed.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 10/24/2012

    " Well-written insight into mental illness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann DelVecchio | 10/14/2012

    " Clear, and hopeful even though Elyn has a hard hand to play she seems to getting all she can from it and enjoying the game "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Keith Bernardo | 6/19/2012

    " Excellent perspective on schizophrenia from the inside/out... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie | 2/12/2012

    " Excellent true story. Full of hope for those who suffer from mental illness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ben | 1/1/2012

    " Absolutely phenomenal memoir of a genius who just so happens to have a severe mental illness. Elyn Saks has become my hero. To have over come so much and yet accomplish all that she has is nothing short of legendary. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ellen Read | 10/10/2011

    " Excellent autobiography of an intelligent and driven woman who still copes with schizophrenia but is living a full life. Opened up questions for me: where is the line between madness and sanity? can people struggling with mental illness have a happy life? how are mentally ill best served? etc., etc. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heidi | 7/17/2011

    " Interesting perspective, just couldn't get through it--sorry "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny Howell | 7/11/2011

    " This is one of the better psychological memoirs I have read. It fascinates me that a mind so fragmented can produce such work. I do not have schizophrenia, but Professor Saks makes it clear that people with mental illnesses can flourish in life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Brannon | 7/8/2011

    " I'm a sucker for all things psychiatric, and this did not disappoint. I found Saks's memoir about living a full, active, intelligent life with schizophrenia to be nothing short of FASCINATING. Read and enjoy....then re-evaluate your own life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leah V | 5/12/2011

    " This book really opened my eyes about Schizophrenia. It is a very well-written book of a successful woman's struggle with the illness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ashley | 4/25/2011

    " If I would have actually read this in college like I was suppose to it would be one of my favorite college reads. Mental illness fascinates me and Saks journey through schizophrenia is very interesting. Well written and a great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 3/31/2011

    " I really liked this book. I really enjoyed the great depiction of the contrasts between European and American ways of dealing with mental health. I also appreciated how frank she was. Good book. Easy read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 3/26/2011

    " An intriguing insight into the disease. I agree with other reviewers though that it was frustrating reading her constant struggle trying to reduce her meds. But knowing several people with psych issues, this book shed light on behaviors and thought processes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lola | 3/6/2011

    " Very interesting but got a bit "long" at times. Elyn Saks has a wonderful life story to tell & it may hold hope to others who suffer from schizophrenia--I hope so! She's made amazing accomplishments! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Racy-tay | 2/28/2011

    " One of the best books I have read in years. Perhaps the best. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 2/9/2011

    " Could not put this down. It's not perfect, but if you've had to deal with mental illness (your own or someone else's), you'll probably find a lot to sympathize with (and be terrified of) in this memoir. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristina | 2/3/2011

    " One of the best memoirs of mental illness that I've read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 2/1/2011

    " The story is terrifying but also uplifting. My big problem with this book was that it was just too detailed and began to drag for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melissa | 1/21/2011

    " I love to read psychology books. What made this one special is that it was an autobiography of a woman who didn't let her illness get the best of her. She pushed through no matter what happened. It was inspiring. The down side: cuss words and immorality. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachaelmolitor | 1/12/2011

    " Amazingly articulate and unique view of one person's experience living with schizophrenia. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maureen | 1/10/2011

    " What can I say...it took courage to write this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie | 1/9/2011

    " Wow. What an amazing book. I was assigned to read this book in an abnormal psychology class as a way to study schizophrenia. No book has stayed with me the way this one has. It is extremely well written, but easy to read. In sum, GO READ THIS BOOK. No really, go read it :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 1/9/2011

    " I cannot recommend this memoir by current MacArthur Fellow, former Marshall Scholar and current Distinguished Professor of Law and Psychiatry at USC highly enough. "

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