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Psychiatric Tales [Hardcover]

Darryl Cunningham
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 April 2010
Mental illness is a subject full of fears and misunderstandings. When faced with things we find difficult and distressing, most of us look away. Darryl Cunningham has both worked inside the psychiatric care system and suffered his own struggle with mental illness. Out of these experiences Darryl has created this book as an attempt to demystify such diverse illnesses as dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and depression. Psychiatric Tales opens the world of the acute psychiatric wards to show the very human struggles of the people within. People who could be our neighbours, siblings, parents, employers or even ourselves. At times harrowing, but always deeply humane, this graphic novel will open your eyes to the pain of sufferers, but also the hope of recovery found by many. The work is beautifully, simply handled, allowing the events and the emotions to speak for themselves; the tales themselves are immensely touching and affecting, taking the almost taboo subject of mental illness and shining a light on conditions which can and do affect many people. Cunningham doesn't soapbox to cry for more patience and understanding for sufferers, the stories do that themselves, neither does he pass any judgement on the people coping with various conditions he encounters. As the book progresses he also explores his own issues, including dealing with stress and depression in an equally honest, incredibly touching manner. A worthy addition to works such as David B's acclaimed Epileptic.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Blank Slate Books (19 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906653089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906653088
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Darryl Cunningham is an illustrator and cartoonist. Author of the book, Psychiatric Tales, in which he relates his experiences working on an acute psychiatric ward, and Science Tales; a book of comic book essays on controversial scientific subjects, such as evolution, climate change, and the MMR vaccination scandal. He lives in Yorkshire, England.

"It takes other authors whole books to say what Darryl can say in a single illustration."
Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats, The Psychopath Test) on Darryl Cunningham

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, powerful, accessible 9 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
I've been looking forward to this book for some time, and it's as impressive as I'd been hoping. In one sense, the book is a fascinating handbook, focusing on different kinds of mental illness in each chapter. These include dementia, self-harming, depression, anti-social personality disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide, and great figures in history who've suffered mental illnesses. But it also follows Darryl Cunningham's own journey, starting as a health care assistant and then training to become a mental health nurse until the strain of the course threw him into severe depression and he had to stop.

But all the years of working as a carer gave him a deep insight into the lives of people suffering different conditions and provided him with real-life work anecdotes that makes him able to portray them as real people, not just clinical conditions. And it also makes the reader care about Cunningham as a health worker, realising the hard-core things these carers deal with, and the emotional beatings they go through. But the book's not a request for for us to pity the writer; his straightforward, almost dead-pan voice at times focuses us as readers on the universality of mental health problems, and emphasizes the need to be able to talk about these things in a way that doesn't stigmatise people for being ill, in the way we wouldn't if someone had, say, a broken leg. A deep sense of empathy is the thing that came through most clearly to me in this book, and the last chapter clinches it, when Cunningham allows us to see his own struggle with depression and the hope he gives to other people who suffer it.

The artwork in this book reads very easily and clearly, and provides an excellent introduction to graphic novels for readers who are not very familiar with the medium.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic 19 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
Psychiatric Tales

Darryl Cunningham's book is a succinct and accessible account of mental health problems which effectively communicates the experience of disorders from professional and personal viewpoints. It demystifies and destigmatizes the conditions so many of us will experience at first or second hand, and is a masterpiece of the graphic book format. It deserves to be widely read by laymen and professionals alike and to be regarded as a classic. I recommend it unreservedly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like to give this to everyone I meet. 17 Jan 2013
By S. D. Spicer VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm very close to someone with severe mental health issues. I act as carer for a good part of the week. Every week I have to explain, dispose of myths and prejudice- and also keep understanding myself.

How I wish I could give copies of this to the people I have to explain things to. Darryl Cunningham writes and illustrates these things far better than I ever can. He does it without being patronising or sermonising. His drawing and writing are pared down to simple stark facts and succinct opinions and feelings. It is a masterpiece of explanation that should find its way into anywhere that faces mental health issues.

Less you think it is all dark, Mr Cunningham also, at the end of the book charts his own psychiatric tale. No instant fix, no miracle cure - but hard work and time. It is a fitting and encouraging end to the book.

Recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Normality is a light state of Dementia 16 May 2010
By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This is a very interesting "bande dessinée" on the subject of mental health. Strikingly designed and produced in dramatic white and black it explains (rather than reduces to simplicity) complex issues. Reading of the illnesses is handily supported by an illustration of the illness allowing the two to support and redefine each other. The author goes through a list of types of mental illness, his reaction to them (as a mental health assistant)and to his own problems with low self-esteem and depression. Although it uses the "cartoon" format (six panels to a page) it does not demean its subject but rather enlightens it. Because it is both personal and impersonal, general and specific, it has a remarkably rounded feel to it. I can remember the first time I grasped the modus operandi of the narcissist, suddenly strange behaviours became internally logical, this book does the same for so many other conditions. A delight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Normality Is A Light State Of Dementia 14 April 2013
By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This is a very interesting "bande dessinée" on the subject of mental health. Strikingly designed and produced in dramatic white and black it explains (rather than reduces to simplicity) complex issues. Reading of the illnesses is handily supported by an illustration of the illness allowing the two to support and redefine each other. The author goes through a list of types of mental illness, his reaction to them (as a mental health assistant)and to his own problems with low self-esteem and depression. Although it uses the "cartoon" format (six panels to a page) it does not demean its subject but rather enlightens it. Because it is both personal and impersonal, general and specific, it has a remarkably rounded feel to it. I can remember the first time I grasped the modus operandi of the narcissist, suddenly strange behaviours became internally logical, this book does the same for so many other conditions. A delight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, Important, Unique 2 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is brave, important and unique. In an accessible and intelligent style, it gives an insight into an area of our society which is little explored; little represented in contemporary film, literature and documentary. I think it could be a valuable resource for anyone wanting to know more about the experience of mental illness, and unpicks the complex subject in a digestible way. Having suffered from psychosis myself, I can relate to many things in the book and feel it is brave to portray these issues in such clarity. Interesting section of self harm as a coping mechanism - it made me ask the question, what purpose do the highs and lows of mania and delusions of psychosis serve for the person experiencing them? Thank you for a brave, intelligent book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychiatric Tales
PSYCHIATRIC TALES Very interesting book. You need to experience it for yourself. I am sure you will enjoy the read.
Published 3 months ago by Annette York
3.0 out of 5 stars clear and easy to follow
I wish Darrly had taken a more empathatic or personal approach or gone into more detail. I kind of felt like i was reading about diagnosis and syptoms in a very text book format. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Yourstrulyloved
3.0 out of 5 stars Runs out of steam long before the end
Very nice idea and illustrations. Some very poignant tales in here but I felt it ran out of steam and got a bit mawkish long before the end.
Published 11 months ago by Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me up all night
My Dad got me this when I was depressed I decided to read the first chapter before bed and never stopped. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Nyx
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
An excellent piece of work really enjoyed it. Well worth buying. Very well done and presented. I liked it very much
Published 14 months ago by Mr. K. A. Longmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychiatry and it's impact
An interesting way of looking at conditions, exploring their impact. It is always good to have books that explore mental health conditions, getting readers to think around this... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Stuart Townsend
5.0 out of 5 stars Get yourself an education in mental health in 30 minutes
This is a brilliant cartoon format book based on Darren's experience in mental health, both as a worker and sufferer. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Ann Wardle
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't believe this isn't more popular
For its straight-up, honest and empathetic portrayal of a variety of mental illnesses, this book should be commended. Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2012 by nickdasbird
5.0 out of 5 stars Best DSM revision ever!
I read this book a few weeks ago, on a two-hour train journey on the way for my NHS student placement for my MSc in psychology. Read more
Published on 14 Dec 2011 by Anastasia Beaverhausen
5.0 out of 5 stars A noble pursuit of psychiatry
I made a point of picking up Psychiatric Talesat the Leeds Thought Bubble Festival in November 2011 - as it's been something I've wanted to purchase for a while, being a fan of... Read more
Published on 27 Nov 2011 by Copydesk Martin
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