Monday, December 29, 2008

A journey out of the torment of madness

I'm currently reading an autobiography written by a person who suffers from Paranoid Schizophrenia, a disorder that I've studied at length in several classes. Reading this inside, personal description of what it is like to have a psychotic break and experience the hallucinations and other intense effects of schizophrenia is an amazing experience for me; having only read clinical descriptions and textbook definitions of what the disorder is like. It has caused me to view it in a completely new way, and already has me searching for any kind of autobiographical narratives of other disorders (so far I have only found and purchased one written by an autistic woman, but the search will continue).
Anyway, there is a section in which Lori Schiller, the author of this book, describes how music interacted with her disorder, and how through music she was able to gain some control of her mood, and gain an upper hand on the terrifying and constant voices that plagued her. I want to share one small part of that section because I find it beautiful and profound. Although Lori was dealing with schizophrenia, her experience with music speaks to the way we all can connect to it, and how important and healing it can be.

"...if music was strong, my moods were stronger. More often than not I found that it wasn't the music that controlled my moods. It was my moods controlling the music. My moods would whirl around me, and seep out into the world, selecting the songs, filtering the tunes and lyrics not to alter my moods, but to harmonize with them and enhance them.
I never thought the songs or singers were speaking directly to me. Nonetheless, my moods sharpened the words and tunes like a knife, so they seemed to cut directly to my brain. The songs talked to my experience, shared my feelings. It was as if through music the world outside became a mirror image of my own inner world. The borders between the music and my mind would fade. As I became engrossed in the words and melodies, I often became captive to the mercy of the music."

-Lori Schiller, "The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness"


  1. You have probably already seen previews, but please, please go see The Soloist, which comes out this spring.
    It is about a schizophrenic man who is saved through his music.

  2. I am so excited to see that. My favorite prof showed us a preview for it when we did our unit on psychotic disorders.

  3. Sounds like a really interesting book

    "As I became engrossed in the words and melodies, I often became captive to the mercy of the music."

    I really like that line, I feel like that sometimes

  4. Me too. And I love the image of being 'captive to mercy'