- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Sphere; New edition edition (19 Aug. 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0349126380
- ISBN-13: 978-0349126388
- Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 694,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Operators and Things: The Inner Life of a Schizophrenic (Abacus Books) Paperback – 19 Aug 1976
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A detailed work on mental health and schizophrenia
Top Customer Reviews
The book chronicles her descent into madness (and atypically her rapid ascent out of it). It starts with some background to her breakdown - the oppressive office environment she worked in. This section in itself is fascinating. Here she highlights all the underhand manoeuvrings her managers and colleagues operate to advance their careers - more than a touch of Machiavelli.
The rest of the book chronicles her travels around America whilst under the control of the voices in her head. I'm guessing sufferers of Schizophrenia don't usually have such an entertaining (for the reader) journey they could form into such a clear narrative - i'd assume memories would be more disjointed (if remembered at all). I like to think she hasn't embellished the story much - at times, the sheer terror she describes mark it as both unique and authentic.
This book works both as a work of fiction (with the imaginary characters in her head coming to life on the page) and an educational introduction to mental illness. However, instead of the dry facts and neurological features you would find in a text book you get to feel empathy: a true sense of the confusion and un/ultra-reality many of us are lucky enough to never experience.
This book has been out of print for a while. Searching the internet indicates it's fans are legion (and passionate) and it commands absurd prices second hand. About time for a reprint I would say. Barbara O Brien herself is an enigma/unknown. Anyone with any opinions or info please add a review.
The author starts by giving a brief description of what it's like to find oneself suddenly faced with a schizophrenic break, explaining how one's unconscious can produce concepts and images that somehow fit within one's own sense of the plausible. Thus, she shows you how it could happen to you.
Next, she tells of the events that led to her own break, using some of the imagery that becomes her reality during her six month experience with psychosis.
The third section describes her experience as a schizophrenic. It can be quite confusing to follow. My own suggestion is not to worry overmuch about that while reading - just go along for the ride.
The rest of the book reviews her recovery and her sense of how and why it happened. I found that the most interesting sections were near the end, "Hinton: Departmentalized Man", and the postscript written in 1975. It was in these places that Barbara O'Brien most clearly shows us her sense of how and why schizophrenia occurs. I think that any of us who try to be honest with ourselves and are not sociopaths must recognize how, given the right set of circumstances, it could happen to us. Hinton is the name of the personality that the author's unconscious had given to the part of her she'd suppressed and feared, and whose suppression had prevented her being able to deal with a miserable and untenable work situation. It was her experience in schizophrenia to learn how to integrate this character into herself.Read more ›
The thing is that those that she saw, the operators and hook operators described people that we see every day. And the descriptions of them and what they do were also relevant to how the predatory types in our world operate. It's almost as if she could see 'behind the scenes' at what is really going on in our world.
This is a great book and the fact that it is true makes it even more spectacular.