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22 Reviews
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely uplifting
A clear and compelling insight into one of life's everlasting taboos. The author writes with openness and honesty about his early descent into mental institutions and his personal struggle to break free. Fearsome and yet funny, the slippery ascent takes him through squats, prison and even the Hare Krishnas, forever stalked by his alter ego and holding on to his love of...
Published on 22 Feb 2009 by Soc 1

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I had high expectations of this book, wanting to be fascinated and educated further on living with mental illness from the perspective of one who had experienced it, and gone on to live a life. John O'Donoghue is clearly a survivor and does not fall into the trap of sensationalising his experiences or relying on self pity to promote his story.
However, I felt the...
Published on 9 Jan 2011 by nicole bookworm


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5.0 out of 5 stars A moving and important book for so many reasons, 10 Aug 2012
By 
Victoria Field "fal" (Canterbury, Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (Paperback)
Sectioned - A Life Interrupted is John O'Donoghue's first-person account of a decade spent in and out of psychiatric hospitals and, in between, a series of shared flats, hostels for the homeless, a brief stretch in prison, therapeutic communities and housing projects. It's a vivid evocation of how the benefits and good intentions of these places combine with their inability, ultimately, to 'help' and at times, the positive damage they do.
We see time and time again how someone can fall through the cracks - the first interruption is the heart-breaking death of John's father - the cosy, loving, low-key family is suddenly rudderless - his mother begins wandering the streets and John is taken into care - he experiences this as having betrayed and abandoned his mother and this perception is reawakened when he isn't able to get to Ireland for her death or funeral. The most effective time for the 'authorities' to have intervened would have been when the father died - instead, there follows a tragic cycle of depression and near-misses (we read of others who end up at Broadmoor, or as 'long stays' or dead) - thank goodness John doesn't have a taste for heroin - the cost of which - for the individuals concerned, society and the state - are huge - emotionally and financially. He almost becomes a Hare Krishna devotee but manages to escape again.
A question that comes up for me over and over, is who cares and how do they care? John is regularly asked questions by 'professionals' but doesn't really answer them and they don't seem to probe further. The motives of those in the caring professions are suspect - the therapeutic commmunity gave me the heebee geebees and there are funny insights throughout the book.
That John isn't one of those who've just disappeared is testimony to some inner strength - his love of poetry helps,intelligence, instincts for who to avoid and when to get out, his family back in Ireland are loving and kind but the turning point comes when a man called Martin helps him get to university.
The book is also a vivid portrait of London during the Thatcher years - aspects of which are back - and should be a wake-up call for everyone - if not to love their neighbour but to look out for them.
Much more to say about this rich and provocative read - but better just to recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Interrupted, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (Paperback)
This is an important book on a personal level, one rarely written of or described in detail. I am sure that it will help to dispel myths and fears regarding mental illness.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Full of highs and lows and hope, 16 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (Paperback)
I have read a number of books on homelessness and depression but this was a book quite different to the rest. The author immersed me in the highs and lows of his own despair and inner conflicts, of squalor and the heartlessness of the 'no such thing as society' era. I could relate to many episodes either historically and geographically in those dark Thatcher days. How he could bear it all and come through it is beacon of hope to all those who have walked similar paths. This was book that eventually made you feel good.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, not to be missed, 24 Feb 2009
By 
Z. de Linde - See all my reviews
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This is a subject I usually shy away from but was drawn in by the central character. It reads like a swimmer trying to overcome waves, dodging some, swallowed up by others, the narrator somehow (against the odds) makes it to shore. There is a rich array of characters, vivid in mannerisms and accents. The language is beautiful sometimes still (`the dancing particles of dust fade back into the gloom'), sometimes vibrant, witty (the Levi incident, the 80p bin bags, the turban, Paris, the offer, etc.. ) poetic (`love, double-breasted and shy') and always lucid. A great read, not to be missed.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars None, 1 Jun 2012
I was a bit disappointed if honest.. It was a good book but not quite what I was expecting.. Seemed to jump from one point in his life to another and that was confusing as you got into it and it took you a while to realise you were now on a different part..
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DID NOT LIVE UP TO EXPECTATIONS, 7 May 2011
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This review is from: Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (Paperback)
Like one of the other reviewers I was disappointed with this book.I was glad that in the end he came to some resolutions about his problems, and that he was able to lead a moderately normal life, and was able to deal with the triggers that set of the mood swings previously, but I was disappointed that I did not gain a great insight into the institutions that John found himself in. The characters seemed unreal, more like pages from fiction than reality.I did not really gain an insight into the mental tortures that John was suffering.He mentions many times about his feelings of failure, but does not go onto develop these ideas, perhaps that was not the purpose of the book.I just felt that the whole book was rather superficial, and lacked any depth,meaning or feeling. P erhaps John wrote the book for his own benefit to try to come to terms with the demons inside him which is fine and worthwhile, but because it was put out for general publicationthen criticism of the fabric of the story and its shortcomings are obviously going to be expressed.
One of those books, in my opinion, once read it will make its way to a charity shop to be read by someone else with high expectations.
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i cried and i laughed and i cried and i laughed and i wish life wasn't so difficult but i'm happy this book was written, 23 Feb 2009
i don't know how to write a book review
i will write a list
from notes i made when reading the book
not including sections of prose
i don't want to spoil it for anyone
Victorian buildings
scale
a huge thing happening to such a young person
being lost
stars
guilt
shame
loss
being lost
language
learning
religion
charity
luck
beauty and darkness
nurses
the mundane
the drugs
the people
reality
the game
intelligence
philosophical
a worldly and philosophical adult at 16, 17, 18
being completely alone
institutions
laughing and crying
heart-breaking endings
uniforms
passivity
Soren Kierkegaard
other people always speaking
i'm sorry about this book review
i think the book is beautiful
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 19 Feb 2011
This review is from: Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (Paperback)
What I found interesting was how the writer does not discuss exactly what happened each time he went back into hospital. He just describes it as seeing the fog again. In a way I found this refreshing as it didnt drag me down and kept me wondering about the missing details. This is the first book I have read on this topic. I only like to read autobiographies so I found this a pleasure to read, easy, sad in parts and inspirational that it doesnt matter how many times you see the 'fog', there is always hope and to never give up.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thankfully not an other misery memoir, 21 Feb 2009
I think its marvellous we have writing about serious mental illness which is by someone who has experianced it and can write. Most books in this area are by middle class women from Hampstead, who can't write and once felt a bit depressed because no one thought they were Sylvia Plath. A serious psychotic illness is harrowing,sufferers are generally poor and male. So its a shame the literature seeme to be monopolised by female journalists. This is well written and some humour there. The fact that he he has come out of all this and has become an accomplished writer is inspiring, to people from disadvantaged backgrounds ( and everyone else too).I wish at times it was a bit more detailed but thats a minor quibble and would probably have interrupted the flow.
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars surprised, 1 Mar 2009
By 
Susan Hargreaves "bittersweet" (Upper Peninsula, MI) - See all my reviews
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I actually have not yet read this book, though I intend to. My concern is that I received an e-mail from Amazon.com suggesting this book on the basis that I had read other books by John O'Donohue. And you see, "there's the rub". I did not notice that THIS book is actually by John O'Donoghue, (notice the difference in spelling) and has nothing to do with the books on Celtic Spirituality by the John O'Donohue I have enjoyed. So, it is my mistake that I did not notice the fact that this was a different author. But it was misleading of Amazon to suggest this book on incorrect information. So buyer beware.
Otherwise, the delivery was prompt, and perhaps it will be a very interesting book. We'll see!
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Sectioned: A Life Interrupted
Sectioned: A Life Interrupted by John O'donoghue (Paperback - 3 Sep 2009)
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