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Schizophrenia: The Positive Perspective. Explorations at the Outer Reaches of Human Experience (2nd edn) By Peter K. Chadwick. Routledge. 2008. £21.99 (pb). 224pp. ISBN: 9780415459082

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Paul Bonham*
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham, School of Nursing, London Road, Derby DE1 2QY, UK. Email: paul.bonham@nottingham.ac.uk
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Abstract

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Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2010 

I wanted to like this book. It has an intriguing cover and a user-friendly feel. The title – just up my street. I tried reading a chapter each day. It was hard going. The text is surprisingly autobiographical on the one hand and hippy 1960s on the other (in chapter 7, ‘Thinking at the borderline: the deep music of reality’, we read about ‘rainbow words, celestial music, poetry and “rainbow equations”’ (p. 70)). A chapter on the history of cannabis and subjective account of its use is interesting but felt as if it was in the wrong book. It was followed by a chapter on a carer's experiences linked to his son's cannabis use – this was distressing, yet the book aims to present ‘the positive perspective’. So again, maybe the wrong book?

The stories about people of the author's acquaintance and their different experiences of psychosis were, again, interesting in themselves, but I kept thinking ‘Who is this book aimed at? Who will it inform?’ In my own clinical practice of being with people who experience schizophrenia or psychosis the only mantra that I have found remotely helpful is that each person's experiences are different and unique, and any attempt to help them should try to take this into account. So how should these people's (and also the author's) different experiences help if they do not indicate a bigger picture of some sort? Perhaps that is what Peter Chadwick is saying – if so, it missed me.

The book is copiously referenced (many references are Chadwick's own work). This led me to think that it might be aimed at mental health academics or students at degree level. Also, the use of terms which I had never come across before (for example, ‘concatenation’), despite being immersed in this area of interest for 20 years myself, made the job of reading the book sometimes tiresome.

Starting from chapter 11, around two-thirds of the way through, the reviews of the ‘biographical sketches’ seemed to be more useable (I am assuming that is the function of a textbook). Peter Chadwick discusses and reviews the various factions, views and philosophies around the approaches to psychosis and people with psychosis. There is no doubting the passion that drove his desire to write this book. It is this enthusiasm, overall, which I found more and more engaging.

The book is written in very short sections but the density of the text in some places would make it very hard going if it were otherwise.

To sum up, this book should be in the collection of a person who needs to understand schizophrenia and psychosis in their widest sense. I am still not sure about the value of the biographies, or indeed the author's biography (with such an intense level of detail) that have been included here. Shortened versions of these, followed by longer discussion of each story would perhaps widen the potential readership, which in my view is very limited as it stands.

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Schizophrenia: The Positive Perspective. Explorations at the Outer Reaches of Human Experience (2nd edn) By Peter K. Chadwick. Routledge. 2008. £21.99 (pb). 224pp. ISBN: 9780415459082
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Schizophrenia: The Positive Perspective. Explorations at the Outer Reaches of Human Experience (2nd edn) By Peter K. Chadwick. Routledge. 2008. £21.99 (pb). 224pp. ISBN: 9780415459082
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Schizophrenia: The Positive Perspective. Explorations at the Outer Reaches of Human Experience (2nd edn) By Peter K. Chadwick. Routledge. 2008. £21.99 (pb). 224pp. ISBN: 9780415459082
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