Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ten Days in a Mad House by Nellie Bly


For Ten Days in a Mad House Nellie Bly faked insanity.
She got into a mental asylum on Blackwell's Island New York.
In 89 pages she reported how she and her fellow patients were treated by doctors and nurses.

It's one of the most upsetting things I have read. Ever. It's 1887 ... and there is no humanity for ill people. If they are ill after all.
I guess/hope/pray that things have changed all over the world. Though ill people, especially mentally ill people, are still very dependent on doctors and nurses. Who would believe them if they reported being treated like s**t? They are crazy ...

There isn't really much more to say about the book. Read it if you have a few hours to read, and a few more to think.

(What's up with her name ... Google suggested Nellie instead of Nelly. She's called Nelly on the book though.)

You can read parts of it here.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson


When Christine wakes up in the morning she thinks she is mid 20 years old. When she opens her eyes she doesn't know where she is. She doesn't know who the man next to her is. Looking in the mirror she doesn't who it is she is seeing.
Christine lost the ability retain any memory ... everything is lost as soon as she falls asleep. She's mid 50 (I think) and the man next to her is Ben, her husband.
Before I go to Sleep follows Christine's efforts to get better. Her efforts to form a live. After meeting a doctor, she starts writing a journal, which takes most part of the book - so the reader learns bits and pieces of her past and her live with her. We get to know her Doctor and her husband better than she does. We get to know who's worth trusting and believing.

Progressing through the book, it's not only Christine's memory changing, it's the way she writes too. I found it a bit hard to get into in the beginning ... basically just because every journal entry would start the same way. After a while she starts leaving out the beginnings of the day, so reading goes a bit smoother.

It, hardly any surprise there, makes you appreciate your memory. Everything is based on having a memory of the day before today, the year before or even ten years before. This is what makes your personality. Planning the future is based your memory. You learn from experience, you grow with them. Your character and personality relies on memories. It's not that Christine doesn't have a personality though ... by reading her journal, which really contains her deepest thoughts we get to know her.
And when you think about your childhood, your teens and college years - think about if the memories you have are really representing the experiences you had? False memories? Confabulations? How do you know?
It also makes you think about the people around you. Who do you think you can trust fully and why do you think you can?

The thing that strikes me most about the book is how realistic it is. Cases similar to that really do exist. Clive Wearing has a memory span of half minute if he is lucky. (This makes him the sweetest husband on the planet though; check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDNDRDJy-vo). He doesn't even know what exactly he is eating. Thinks he's never seen a doctor. Has no thoughts. But remembers his wife. I love Clive. Such an awesome case.

Right ... if you're interested in memory and living without it I guess this book is a good read. And it's a lot better than the covers makes you think. I really wish they'd have put a bit more effort in the design of the cover.