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Narrative nonfiction

The Great Pretender

by Susannah Cahalan

Quick take

Rips back the curtain on mental health treatment. You'll be rightfully shaken, outraged, or both.

Good to know

  • Heavy read

  • Social issues

  • Creepy

  • Serious

Caution

  • Themes of violence and abuse
  • Many scientific concepts and ideas

Why I love it

Susannah Cahalan was not okay. Over the course of a month she went from being a fully functioning young reporter to suffering from psychosis and hallucinations, a step away from being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. In her devastating 2012 memoir, Brain On Fire, Cahalan details how a neurological disease not only caused her body to attack her brain, but also caused her to question her own...

Synopsis

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness-how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people—sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society—went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry's labels. Forced to remain...

Preview

Get an early look from the first pages of The Great Pretender.

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November 2019