Our latest reviews
Befriending my Brain: A Psychosis Story by James Lindsay
This is a cracking literary debut from James Lindsay and for me, an emotional rollercoaster.
I suffer from depression and anxiety. The membership team at Mind asked if someone would like to review the book. Reading, I thought, would help me focus – something I have been struggling to do. And providing feedback meant I had to commit to finish the book. So, as we would both benefit from the experience, I put myself forward.
James’ story will resonate with lots of people. I found myself relating to nearly everything that led to his psychosis – some of which, really hit me hard. So, a warning – this is an honest account of how James has been affected by mental illness.
He describes how his darkest times led to him losing contact with reality, being sectioned and how, with the help of those closest to him, he has bravely fought to master his demons and become a better version of himself.
But it’s so much more. You will feel you know James – and I promise you will be inspired. He explains how he has overcome some significant challenges to have a job he loves, a partner he adores and a life he’s proud of. You will want friends, a mum and a girlfriend like his – people who are always there for him.
For me, what makes this such a brilliant book is that James isn’t asking for sympathy. Quite the opposite. I sense James wants forgiveness from those that were affected by his illness. But there is nothing to forgive. James wasn’t to blame for anything. In fact, you will hear about the many people he has helped through his charity work, volunteering, and blogs who I am sure are incredibly thankful. After reading this book and learning so much more about myself, I know I am.
**Content warning** References to suicide, hospitalisation, psychosis, depression, anxiety and effects associated with them
Reviewer: Mike, Mind Member
James Acaster's Guide to Quitting Social Media: Being the Best You You Can Be and Saving Yourself from Loneliness
It seems that during the forced hiatus of covid lockdown, every comedian and their dog turned to writing biographies and self-help books. And judging from the incredibly long title of James Acaster’s offering, you’d assume that’s exactly what he did too. But you’d be wrong, and people going into this title looking for support to manage their social media habits or to find out a little bit more about James’ own life are going to be sorely disappointed. Because this book is a ludicrous fictional satire disguised as biography disguised as a self-help manual.
After fictional James covers his mobile phone in tar and locks it in a storage unit in Rhyl so that he cannot access his social media accounts, he goes around trying to recreate all the experiences and dopamine hits he previously gained from scrolling the internet in real life – including hiring a gang of flyerers to randomly spam him with leaflets every time he leaves his house (a fortress called Castle Anti-Net).
I’ll be honest. Guide to Quitting Social Media is basically a single gag that Acaster has managed to extend for 24 chapters by falling further and further into self-inflicted chaos, à la Basil Fawlty. If you loved his surreal stand-up shows on Netflix, you’re going to love this book too. Otherwise, it might not be your cup of tea. I expect listening to James reading the audiobook version is hilarious. Personally, I enjoyed the ridiculous whimsy of it all but I can imagine it’s not going to be for everyone, particularly people who are genuinely interested in seeking out tips to helps manage their social media usage.
Reviewer: John, Membership and Participation Manager
Mad World: The Politics of Mental Health by Micha Frazer-Carroll
Mad World exposes the big issues around mental health – how our current mental health crisis connects to capitalism, racism and other forms of oppression and social problems, and how we might think differently about mental health.
Delving into the dark history of asylums and psychiatry, up to modern-day diagnoses and treatments, Micha Frazer-Carroll gives the reader an insight into how the pathologisation of natural human responses to the difficult conditions in the world we live in can do more harm than good, and looks to offer new ways that we can understand Madness/Mental Illness within the context of capitalism and oppressive structures.
Mad World discusses how capitalism makes us unwell, in that so much of our time is spent at work, often in poor conditions and working for low wages that don’t allow us to truly enjoy our little free time. People feel alienated from their outputs and their communities, with feelings of loneliness and isolation rampant, particularly amongst racialised and disabled communities.
Frazer-Carroll writes about how mental health awareness campaigns have led to huge progress in reducing stigma, but mainly for the mental health conditions deemed acceptable (so long as you can work) such as anxiety and depression. Those diagnosed with more “difficult” conditions that mean they can be less able to function in a capitalist society such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are often ignored and the stigma attached to these labels is proving harder to shift. She looks at how psychiatric abolitionist groups over the years have tried to change how we view these “difficult” conditions, where we could appreciate how people with these conditions see and experience the world. And she offers a hopeful end, writing that “we all sit on the fringes of Madness/Mental Illness, so we should build a future where if you say you need help, you will be met with plenty”.
**Content warning: discussions of suicide, self-harm, sexual assault, psychiatric abuse, discrimination**
Reviewer: Emily, Membership Officer
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