Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D. - What are the factors that have most helped you live a productive life?


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Was wondering has anybody read elyn saks autobiography. Would they recommend it, is it worth the read? Because Im thinking of getting it on amazon but don’t want to waste my money if its not good. Will it inspire a schizophrenic.

I read Mrs Saks autobiography, I was impressed with her ambition, drive and resiliency. I could not relate with her completely, as she does not suffer from negative symptoms, as stated in the book. I attribute my progress completely to my current medication cocktail

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A lot of Libraries carry it so you can read it and not buy it.

Thanks for that…that’s a good idea, I’ll check my library because Im sick of spending money on books.

I think in rushing to eulogise Saks, and maybe finding ourselves wanting , we need to remember that she had a lot of help that many could not afford and doesn’t necessarily represent the typical picture of someone with schizophrenia.
All things considered you would expect her to have done better than the average person with schizophrenia.


Firemonkey is completely right here. She had many, many years of expensive therapy - that only a very wealthy family (or one with very good insurance in the USA) could afford.

Her treatment is far from common.

She was very lucky (in addition to working hard at recovery).

She’s on of my heroines. I read her book while just beginning my remission, and it spurred me to achieve in school regardless of not being completely with reality. I remember getting that panic feeling in between classes, like I just wanted to disappear, when I would think to myself that I didnt belong in school even though I had a full scholarship and all A’s, and I would just open her memoir and read. I realized that she functioned with a much worse case of schizophrenia than I did, and that I was looking at life the wrong way- her memoir made me count what is good, not concentrate on the negative sides of life like most people do. Now my meds have me nearly free of psychosis, as long as I stick to routine and don’t get myself in overly stressful situations. Then it all comes right back, the voices and delusions return in seconds if I an too stressed.

I remember reading the chapters about her psychoanalytic therapy and I compared it to my behavior in the therapist’s office and I realized how lucky I am to have a less severe case than she has.

I still remind myself that whatever I am struggling with, she defeated it. She’s a role model for me. I’m writing a paper about schizophrenia for Deviance and its Role in History today, and I feel anxious and depressed today. I know that she was on first generation antipsychotics, still experiencing symptoms and sedated like hell and wrote way bigger and better papers than my 14 page paper on schizophrenia and deviant behaviors associated with it. I just have akathisia and a comorbid generalized anxiety disorder, but my meds treat the positive symptoms well and I have low negative symptoms.

I also struggle with psychopathic tendencies, it came up on the MMPI-2 when I was evaluated and diagnosed, and my friends can tell you about some of the stuff I have done. I get paranoid and then raging mad, I react to paranoia with “well if they’re after me, I will kill them”…not healthy. Not healthy at all. However horrible that sounds, I am aware of myself and curiously enough, I scored extremely highly for compliance on the DISC personality profile (I scored equally highly for dominance, go figure how that makes sense). I only get psychopathic when I feel threatened, but I do have trouble with relationships. I have never dated anyone for over a month.

She has more courage and perseverance than I do, and I am a powerlifter, honors student on a full ride and have a 3.96, yaddyyaddah, I’m an academic who can squat well over twice his weight and deadlift almost 3 times his weight, great, blah blah but seriously, she sets the bar for living well as a person who has schizophrenia.

She basically kicks ass. I might do well as despite being schizophrenic but I am nowhere near as strong as she is.

I can’t really express how much I look up to her.

I also have expensive therapy and an outstanding psychiatrist, so I feel like I am on the same plane as she is. My family can afford the best treatment for me, fortunately.

However, I functioned almost as highly as I do now without therapy or medication for the first 6 months of my schizophrenia, I just dont suffer as much, and I dont function all that much higher. The differences on paper are not that big. I had 4 A’s a one B the first semester of my psychosis, and I was bodybuilding and looked remarkably healthy, but I would just stare at the floor and mumble about not feeling well around people and spend my free time alone playing video games while drinking after lifting weights or doing cardio. The second half of my first year of psychosis, I made two A’s and three B’s, two of them B+'s. I took upper division psych courses required for my concentration, behavioral neuroscience, and for a freshman, making a B+ in those classes is pretty good. Especially when you’re psychotic. Making a B+ in Physiological psychology honors while psychotic was ironic. Making a B+ in Drug and Alcohol Behavior honors as an alcoholic schizophrenic was ironic.

What I mean is, she’s mentally and emotionally strong. Therapy relieves suffering, it doesn’t make you do anything. The will to achieve must be present, therapists don’t go to school and take care of your body for you.

I just wrote for half an hour about Elyn Saks. That’s how awesome she is.