"Utilizing the past compassionately in the here
and now to create a better future." --Lynne Stewart--
Amazon Customer review:
On Becoming Human: A Memoir
Extremely well-written sentiments, memories, stories, and self-expression through art and memoir.
I love how this author has found her way through a very dark, and through what seems a very frightening beginning. I feel when I am reading this that the author has suggested perhaps some external causes for her suffering; and this pleases me, since I personally believe we don't all come out of the womb this damaged, without some help.
The author has seen storms, and she has learned to connect the dots in order to solve mysteries, and to emerge from them anew. She has struggles, as we all do, and it is seen through a lens, heavy with promise, and an understanding of the big picture.
This is so well-written. The descriptions are impeccable. The art, the way I am seeing it, describes pain and suffering. Maybe this is in part because the art is in black and white - or grayscale as some would say. The art is moody, and it lends itself well to this dark story. The photos and story at the end are much sunnier.
For me and my own suffering, this is very inspiring story of a woman who has seen unpleasant things that many haven't; things that we do not want for others to ever see. I am simply inspired, not just because it is such a detailed and well-thought-out accounting of the author's life; it is also amazing that she has become a mental health advocate. I am a sufferer, and I would not have been able to do all of that myself.
The author's victories are remarkable, notable. I cried happy tears for her. I get the feeling that she gets a lot of her strength and determination discovering her strengths of caring for others
This memoir is unlike any you will read, in that it ventures into a world most people want or need to hide. Here is a glimpse into the mind, heart, and soul of a person caught up in so called mental illness and the American mental health system.
The world of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment is revealed through her eyes. On Becoming Human: A Memoir, chronicles Stewart's lived experience of the changing language and tenets of psychological theories and practices, and its impact on her life. She experienced firsthand the evolution from institutionalization of the mentally ill through the vogue of the recovery model and into the latest threat of a return to institutionalization.
It is a must read for anyone struggling through the labyrinthine mystery of getting emotional or psychological help in America today.
Most of all, the book will have a beneficial effect on the reader. Stewart has given a message of hope to those who feel hopeless. Art and writing have done this for her. She wants to show others who suffer, another way out of pain.
Stewart’s book is engrossing as she chronicles her long arduous path to realizing her humanity in less than one-hundred pages. As a child, she felt alien to this planet and isolated from the people among whom she dwelled. Her normal instincts to love and be loved were thwarted at every turn by cruel and distracted parents and an unconcerned, punishing older brother. Her longing for acceptance, a sense of belonging, and meaningful connection were rejected and discounted by them.
She grew up in an environment that betrayed her child-like trust in the goodness of life. To protect herself she withdrew to a deep hidden place inside herself. Stewart describes the thick walls of defense layered around her hopes and dreams for a future with human contact, relationships, and love. She decides to stay hidden, until at age 28, tender, caring words are spoken to her secreted hopes.
These words came from a man 10 years her senior who appeared humble and sincere. He happened to be a psychiatrist. Stewart despairs and feels hopeless until his words penetrate the heavy barriers of misery and loneliness, to reach her hidden hopes.
In her memoir, Stewart describes the long years of hospitalization in psychiatric facilities prior to, during, and subsequent to, the chance meeting between her and her new doctor.
Her life changes forever because of this meeting in 1971. He becomes her psychotherapist for the next ten years. The intense psychoanalytic psychotherapy is explained to the reader in a way that captures the essence and character of the effect it has on Stewart, and how she survives to emerge ready to live life to the fullest. It is written in poetic language which allows the reader to experience her epiphany.
Her ability to identify with others labeled as she has been informs the next phase of her life as she attempts to be fully alive. Her work as an advocate, organizer and self-help proponent gives a new context to the words: freedom, civil and human rights, discrimination and stigma.
Stewart has evolved into not only an author, but for most of her adult life she has been a painter of pictures (See her bio on this website). In this memoir, she has included twenty of her art works as depictions of her life’s journey.
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