Book 58: She’s Not Herself by Linda Appleman Shapiro

I won this book through Goodreads a few months back, though like a slug it took me eons to get around to it. I’m quite sad that I waited so long, it’s quite the lovely memoir, written in stunning detail and without overly-complicated language (though Shapiro could have certainly gone that route as a psychotherapist). Shapiro writes in the Afterward that she had considered writing a Self-Help book, then decided that telling her mother’s story in a narrative style would be more useful; I agree wholeheartedly.

There are mentions of electroshock therapy, suicide attempts, hospitalization, and mental health throughout the entirety of this memoir; if those subjects unsettle you, I’d advise against reading it.

Shapiro’s mother experienced mental illness in a time when women had little agency, one in which she was powerless to refuse the treatments that did little but bandage her wounds. It’s easy to understand how that life shaped her daughter so much, and as Shapiro herself writes, it forced her into the role of caregiver which lead her into her careers and ultimately helped her to succeed in life.

There’s little I can say that’s negative about this book – Shapiro has a strong voice and is an incredibly reliable narrator. Anyone interested in mental health and/or memoirs should consider it.

I give this book a 9/10.

She’s Not Herself: A psychotherapist’s journey into and beyond her mother’s mental illness

Happy reading!

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