A Journey Through Schizophrenia
Email this review


Recovered schizophrenic McLean offers a guided tour, complete with images, through the workings of his brain from the onset of his illness to the present day.

McLean was a fairly ordinary, albeit artistic, teenager. His friends smoked pot and so did he. They played in bands and later attended university, and so did McLean. But while his friends could use hallucinogenic drugs and then be back to normal the next day, McLean never really left that strange mind-state behind. After graduating, he began growing more and more paranoid, and after an unsuccessful stint living in a bachelor pad with a whole gang of young men, he moved back home with his parents and landed a distinctly mundane job in a warehouse. The ordinariness of his daily life, however, did nothing to mitigate his ever-growing delusions. He would hear the PA system addressing him, read implications and intentionality into every passing license plate, and imagine that there was a giant conspiracy aimed at making him harm himself. McLean’s style is uncompromisingly direct and matter-of-fact, with a wealth of detail that opens up the world of a schizophrenic’s thoughts without romanticizing the experience. His extensive collections of drawings add another dimension to his tale; images of giant insects with electronic arms, crowds of streetlights, and landscapes composed of faces lend an intensity to his descriptions of feelings of displacement. Interspersed with the text are postings from Internet message boards for those suffering from schizophrenia. These messages from a nameless crowd do even more to underline the oddity and mystery of the disease. McLean’s story of eventually finding psychiatric and pharmacological help is told in the same flat tone as the rest of his story; one day he’d had enough of hearing voices and looked up psychologists in the phone book.

A brave, adamantly anti-sensational tale.

Pub Date: May 5th, 2005
ISBN: 1-86508-974-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Allen & Unwin/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2005


ChildrenMADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia
by Francesca Zappia