Not for the faint of heart and not for the faint of vocabulary, Roberta Payne’s Speaking to My Madness: How I Searched for Myself in Schizophrenia is an insightful and dramatic memoir of her battle with three of the most pressing illnesses of our time – alcoholism, mental illness, and cancer.
In this tale of perseverance, redemption, and overcoming all odds, the reader follows Payne on a tour of some of the world’s greatest institutions, including Stanford and Harvard, and trudges along beside her through some of society’s darker corridors, such as mental facilities and a drug house. Intensely lived episodes -- including the suicide of Payne’s dear friend, her reunion with a long-lost sister after forty-five years, and her experiences during a hurricane -- add color and drama to the book, and are balanced with moments of intense introspection in which the author confronts mind- and life-altering illnesses.
Afflicted by three diseases, yet ultimately victim to none, Roberta Payne maintained a peripatetic career teaching college English, Latin, and Italian while trying to surmount and better understand those illnesses. Her love of literature is reflected in this work’s fresh, vibrant themes from Dante, creative metaphors, and dramatic flashbacks.
More than just a nostalgic account of Payne’s trials and tribulations, Speaking to My Madness is a factual memoir important for those interested in psychology, psychiatry, and the study of addiction. Clinicians and medical students, as well as students of philosophy and religion, will find this work a valuable tool for approaching the human condition encompassed by their particular fields of interest. And those wishing to read a story of redemption will find immense value in Payne’s work as it illuminates how embracing sickness can ultimately lead to healing.