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any good fiction books on mental health

(65 Posts)
NotYoMomma Mon 28-Oct-13 15:26:22


I have been really interested recently in psychology and mental health, both historically, fictionally, and in real life.

books I have found interesting are 'the interpretation of murder' - I loved reading about freud and Jung in a fictional sense

and 'the ghost road' by pat barker - I enjoyed reading about shell shock back in the day (the equivalent of ptsd?)

I loved K-Pax (the whole trilogy!) and found it utterly utterly fascinating.

does anyone have any other recommendations for me please?

Portlligat Mon 28-Oct-13 15:58:43

How about Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson. It's a debut novel and has reviews into the thousands on Amazon. It's a thriller and the story revolves around a woman who has suffered some sort of trauma. Every day when she wakes up she has no memory of where she is, doesn't recognise her husband and doesn't understand why she seems to have aged 15 years.

Apparently this is a possible, though rare, condition and the book seems well researched, though I'm no expert. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am drumming my fingers awaiting SJ's next offering.

InsultingBadger Mon 28-Oct-13 16:02:08

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year - loved it!

headoverheels Mon 28-Oct-13 16:14:20

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

My favourite Pat Barker book is Regeneration. It's fantastic.

Have you read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath? I enjoyed that as well.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is fascinating but the character's mental health and the reasons for it do become quite outrageous.

X-post Head grin

PoisonousCentipede Mon 28-Oct-13 16:22:55

The Trick is to Keep Breathing - Janice Galloway

leezl Mon 28-Oct-13 16:24:17

The whole Regeneration trilogy is fantastic - my favourite books ever.
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry.
Can't think on any more right now gah!

PoisonousCentipede Mon 28-Oct-13 16:26:23

Oh if you enjoyed Interpretation of Murder you might enjoy the brilliant Alienist by Caleb Carr.

Yes to The Bell Jar. I liked the first of the Regeneration trilogy, but loathed the other two - the second was especially bad.

Frank Tallis' Max Lieberman books might interest you, although they get very samey after the first couple.

Jane Eyre for Mrs Rochester maybe?

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenedes

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (good except for the stupid ending imho)

Fight Club

The Catcher In The Rye


Stephen King - Misery

Oh and just remembered One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Leopoldina Mon 28-Oct-13 16:33:51

Hangover Square - Patrick Hamilton is a very bleak look into schizophrenia (when I read it I actually thought it was alcoholism and booze induced blackouts, but read around it afterwards). Bloody good novel.

And Jeckyll and Hyde, of course

And does Mrs Danvers in Rebecca count?

ButThereAgain Mon 28-Oct-13 16:40:33

The Butcher Boy, by Patrick McCabe

Tender is the Night, FS Fitzgerald

yy to The Bell Jar, with the warning that it is such a raw depiction of mental ill-health that it is as disturbing and unredeeming as watching someone self-harm.

Crime and Punishment

Cremolafoam Mon 28-Oct-13 16:49:48

quite a good list here
Was going to suggest The Curious Incident of The dog in the nighttime
By Mark Haddon

tumbletumble Mon 28-Oct-13 16:51:50

Girl, Interrupted is a book as well as a film

highlandcoo Mon 28-Oct-13 17:03:53

Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks - one of his less well-known books - is interesting re the early treatment of psychiatric illness. Only a small part of the book, but the moving depiction of someone realising they are in the early stages of dementia really sticks in my mind.

highlandcoo Mon 28-Oct-13 17:05:56

Oh, and An Angel at my Table by Janet Frame is also very good.

Human Traces goes on for ever and ever and ever and ever though. It should have been something I'd love - but it wasn't. sad

runningonwillpower Mon 28-Oct-13 17:09:37

I've just read 'Talking to the Dead'.

The protagonist has a rare condition which I can't explain without a 'spoiler'.

This is a fictional crime novel and should be read as such but it did make for a very interesting lead character.

ButThereAgain Mon 28-Oct-13 17:15:18

Oh, yes! I'd forgotten about the whole series of Janet Frame autobiographical novels. I absolutely hated her by the time I read them all, but I can't quite remember why now. Was it because she kind of identified her mental illness with her creativity in a way that seemed rather self-aggrandising, and almost like she had created a version of herself as mentally ill in order to satisfy a certain image of what it was to be creative/poetic. Did she do that? It was a long time ago that I read them.

valiumredhead Mon 28-Oct-13 19:06:14

Ruby Wax's new book is meant to be very good.

Rebecca definitely counts imo and the Bell Jar is amazing.

CoteDAzur Tue 29-Oct-13 15:04:12

I wouldn't count Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time under mental health, since that boy is not mentally ill.

I thought Interpretation Of Murder was quite weak. Did you know that it's author is married to "Tiger mum" Amy Chua?

For a meatier, more challenging look into the mind of mentally disturbed, try:

Umbrella - Will Self (very difficult but intellectually satisfying)
The Atrocity Exhibition - J G Ballard (disturbing and brilliant, best I have read on mental health)

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