Psychiatric Tales: eleven graphic stories about mental illness by Darryl Cunningham

Psychiatric TalesHardcover: 160 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (February 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1608192784

ISBN-13: 978-1608192786

Review by: Sandra Davidson


As with most books on mental illnesses, Mr. Cunningham, an experienced psychiatric hospital caregiver, attempts to relieve the pressure of stigma. Living with or with someone who experiences mental illness is difficult enough without the hush-hush of family members and the whispered finger pointing of acquaintances.

I purchased this item online without connecting of ‘graphic’ with drawn illustrations of story-lines  With nonfiction, I’m a meat-of-the-matter person unprepared for panels of images accompanied by small amounts of text.

This said, the other three-quarters of Americans who do not experience mental illness would be advised to read and share this read with those who work and live with someone who does have a mental illness.

If I had a broken leg, would you try to talk me through it, or would you take me to a trained professional? And if I received professional assistance with a broken leg, would you expect that I have no lingering experiences? No limp, perhaps? No pain when I overtax the capacities of the limb? And if I refuse to take medication for prevention of infection or pain, though I am within my rights, this refusal might negatively affect you and others.

One cannot talk a person out of a mental illness. As Mr. Cunningham discusses, mental conditions are chemical. If your pet dies, you experience sadness and then you cherish memories and photos. Perhaps you consider inviting another pet into your life.

Chemical disruptions aren’t temporary. I have hypothyroidism and take medication. It is a chemical imbalance and no one would blame me for seeking to right the chemical imbalance.

Why then does our society heap blame and fault on those with mental illness? Heavier the burden becomes without support. The majority of persons who experience mental illness seek to hide it; they’re not attention seekers.

Let Mr. Cunningham’s clinical experiences with people experiencing dementia, cutting, chronic depression, bipolarity, schizophrenia and suicide open an eye to empathy.

You can find the book here:

Sandra DavidsonSandra Davidson is the Web/Fiction Editor of The Fox Chase Review


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