‘Strangers To Ourselves’ Explores Limits of Mental Health Diagnoses

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Why do some people with mental illnesses recover while others with the same diagnosis don’t? According to New Yorker staff writer Rachel Aviv, the answer in part lies in the gap between people’s actual experiences and the language of contemporary psychiatry that names and defines their conditions. In her new book “Strangers to Ourselves” Aviv writes about people who she says “have come up against the limits of psychiatric ways of understanding themselves” -- a woman who stopped taking her meds because she didn’t know who she was without them, a man subject to years of failed psychoanalysis, and Aviv herself, who at age six was hospitalized for refusing to eat. We’ll talk to Aviv about her discoveries.


Rachel Aviv, writer of "Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us"