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When the Sun Bursts by Christopher Bollas

When the Sun Bursts by Christopher Bollas

I read this cover to cover right after it came out in November of 2015. As the world's slowest reader I was suspicious when it took me only two days to read. What did I miss? Had I gotten distracted and only read the dust jacket?!?!? After revisiting it numerous times since, I can confidently claim that I did read the whole thing and it was not because my reading sped up (it is still really slow). I was very much helped along by Christopher Bollas' silky-smooth writing. I can't remember when I last read as an insightful book on such a challenging topic.
Early on Bollas provides a liberating point as he recounts the tale of his involvement with schizophrenia: "Before one could begin to think through the unconscious fantasies and mad scenarios of psychotic personalities, it was crucial to absorb their view of reality. How did they perceive the world?" This approach clearly strengthens and gains complexity as the book continues. He operates with great empathy and humility towards a topic that is often met with a mob like reaction containing little compassion.
"In view of the schizophrenic's capacity to distort reality, it is an irony that his vulnerability renders him incapable of the forms of denial employed by a normal person." Examples abound, in the book, of people with schizophrenia ultimately carrying a clear, literal, interpretation of the world that reveals much wisdom in their inner conflicts. This is a very important book that eloquently explains what can be learned from someone with schizophrenia and left me in awe of some of those lessons. I found I experienced a reoccurring, and heartbreaking, side-effect of inevitably imagining any time someone dealing with schizophrenia hasn't been treated in consultation with the insight and awe Bollas' narrative demonstrates. Christopher Bollas does good work. This book is suitable for anyone that might want to open it.

--reviewed by Neil Hendry

by: Neil

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