NOTES ON AN EMERGENCY: A Journal of Recovery by Elizabeth Leonie Simpson

NOTES ON AN EMERGENCY: A Journal of Recovery

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For all its commonalities of experience, mending is the expansion of personal meanings, the extension of contact, of the consciousness that is growth in the midst of limitation and curtailments."" In 1974, Simpson--a writer and specialist in developmental psychology--contracted usually fatal tubercular meningitis, lapsed into a coma, and was near death. This is her densely reasoned, strongly felt exploration of the journey from the abyss of nullity: she had lost her memory, her past, her speech, her sensory connections to others, even to herself. In the rebirth of her perceptions, she found a personal cosmology. Near-death, as she describes it, was an experience of ""light, warmth, and welcome""--during which the love of her constantly attending family was somehow felt; yet the ""landscape of my mind"" caught no thought, and the search for language and images was a matter of ""random grabbing."" The climb from vacuity entailed a constant attempt, ""mapping as I went,"" to explore herself--and fight the sense of ""victimization."" With anecdotes of her handicaps (lack of balance, of concentration, of ability to retain the most ordinary information), she recounts her achievement, finally, of a personality-fueled realism as to her limitations. Along the way, she discusses the need for holistic medicine--for a network of social support beyond the ""silent boundaries"" of the medical profession; the matter of responsibility for one's own illness (perhaps partial); and a humanistic, experiential theology. ""Illness has shown me the triviality of my single life; God has made clear its inconsequentiality to him or her. . . . It was only mortals who defined it as valuable, beloved, needed."" With an inspirational charge to the handicapped to create a vigorous self-image and many relevant quotes from philosophers and social scientists (as well as a graceful epilogue from daughter Bethany), a sinewy, often brightly aphoristic life-statement, strenuous but rewarding.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1982
ISBN: 0595358500
Publisher: Norton