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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness Paperback – Jan 8 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (Jan. 8 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736394
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.8 x 0.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
IN PARIS ON A CHILLY EVENING LATE IN OCTOBER OF 1985 I first became fully aware that the struggle with the disorder in my mind-a struggle which had engaged me for several months-might have a fatal outcome. Read the first page
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the best description of what it is like to suffer depression I have ever read. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and related to SO many of the authors problems. I was in a hospital for 3 weeks, outpatient for 4 1/2 and am still on partial disability. My wife is now reading the book so she can get at least some idea of what this is like. This really hit home,and I feel it is a must read for every sufferer of depression, and just as importantly, the key people in their lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Teddy on Jan. 21 2008
Format: Paperback
In this short but powerful memoir, William Styron, the author of "Sophie's Choice", tells of his personal battle with clinical depression.

Suffering from depression myself and working in the mental health field, I can honestly say he captured this debilitating illness very well indeed. I have tried to explain to my friends how I felt going through depression at my lowest, low. It's like sinking to the bottom of a well with no lifeline to hold on to, gasping for air.

There were so many things in this book that I could relate to first hand! People who have been lucky enough not to suffer from depression don't usually realize how debilitating it is. Symptoms are not just psychological, but there are many physical aspects as well. Styron explains this in a way that everyone, suffers and non-suffers can understand.

I still have some smaller bouts of depression at times, but it's more like treading water at the top of the well, thank goodness. Some of my experiences with the professionals were similar to his, but my ultimate recovery was a bit different. I was not hospitalized and my recovery took a lot longer.

This book is a bit dated. As I said above, I work in the mental health field. I can tell you that the hospitals that I have worked with, don't have the budget to do many of the programs that Styron had the fortune to experience, such as a lot of art therapy. It's a shame, because these would be beneficial!

Though this book is a little dated now, I recommend it for those that have suffered from depression and those who want to know more about what it is really like.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Aug. 14 2004
Format: Paperback
By now, most that are Styron fans know of his battle with depression. Couple this with his excellent writings about difficult subjects (think SOPHIE'S CHOICE) and you've got one heck of an interesting portrait of a writer and a man. I found DARKNESS VISIBLE to be spellbinding and frankly, I couldn't put it down. Would also recommend two other books: A BRILLIANT MADNESS and THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD for those interested in creativity and abuse or mental illness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Whiteside on June 17 2004
Format: Paperback
Since I have suffered from depression, I can relate to this book in many ways. For me, it is uplifting in ways to hear an accout of another who has suffered in similar ways and to ultimately hear of his triumph over the disease. He describes the disease well, emphasing how difficult it is to exaplain to others the terrible disabilitating effects of the disease.
It is good that this book is a short, easy reader that does not waste time. The personal accounts are great. Lets others know they are not alone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic and well written moemoir about the life of someone dealing with depression, the reasons behind the depression and the inspirational journey through the darkness and in to the light.
Several other good books in this genre are Nightmares Echo, Running With Scissors, and Moods and Madness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "blissengine" on Sept. 7 2003
Format: Paperback
In this slim volume, William Styron documents his descent into near-suicidal depression and his eventual recovery to something near normalcy. He eloquently describes his condition, and discusses some things about depression and how it's sometimes different for each individual. By telling of his journey, he offers a sense of hope through the depths of depression. I do wish this book were longer, if only to hear more about his battle and to see more clearly the path he walked.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on Nov. 26 2003
Format: Paperback
If you have never experienced depression - or have not learned what tools there are to cope with it - this is as good a place as any to begin to find out about it. Late in a successful life with a happy family, Styron was afflicted with a serious depression and nearly killed himself. He describes it with such anxious clarity that it is almost unbearable to read if you or someone close to you has suffered like this. He recovers, of course.
What is lacking in his story is a clear understanding of what it may have meant - why he became so depressed at that time in his life. Instead, it is viewed more as an illness that attacked him from the outside, though he does acknowledge some personal issues obliquely. And a large part of his cure is finding the right kind of medication, with talking therapy as an adjunct. This was disappointing to me, as I think that there must have been issues that meant something throughout his life and in the immediate circumstances that set it off. Instead, it appears we are to believe it is more genetic than environmental. Perhaps it is, but I would have preferrred more introspection and as such felt this was superficial. However, this is my bias.
Recommended as a starting point.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book changed my perception of depression. I have never suffered a major depression (thank goodness) but I have spoken to many who have. As a young therapist reading the account of depression written by a great writer changed my vision forever. Styron was in successful and esteemed middle age when this illness fell over him. While he eventually recovered, his articulation of the nightmarish journey captures every dank ugly moment and the sheer emptiness and despair that characterizes the sufferer. I think someone who has had a major depression might appreciate seeing their experience written down. But more importantly if you know someone who is depressed, or have ever tried to tell a depressed person to "snap our of it" you might want to have a look at this book in order to inform your response.
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