The Power of Story in Shaping Mental Health

There is no shortage of self-help books in the world positing that the human mind can be explained, that there is a tidy order to things and a discernible reason why everything happens. These are books that claim to have answers. Rachel Aviv’s new book, Strangers to Ourselves, goes in the opposite direction. Through a series of profiles, she presents people and their behavior that defy easy explanations and who produce more questions than answers. Does Ray represent the triumph of medication over talk therapy or is his story more complex? Is Bapu experiencing religious ecstasy or schizophrenia? Ultimately, Rachel Aviv shows how any understanding of a person with a mental disorder shouldn’t begin and end with a one-word diagnosis because there are so many stories to be told.

Get your copy of Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us wherever books are sold. Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelAviv.

Read Rachel's most recent pieces for The New Yorker by going to:

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