My sister bought this book for a friend with an interest in psychology. After reading it, the friend immediately gave it back (temporarily) for my sister to read because she had found it so interesting and wanted to share it. After that kind of recommendation I had to have a read as well.
Tanya Byron is a clinical psychologist as well as a journalist, author and lecturer in her field. The Skeleton Cupboard is her journey as a trainee clinical psychologist and the stories are inspired by the people she encountered and their individual situations.
Every single story offers a unique insight into a different area of mental health with a variety of realistic characters that illustrate the spectrum of human emotion and the challenges of daily life affect us in different ways. From eating disorders to drug addiction, dementia patients to sociopaths; the boundaries between our perception of what is ‘normal’ and what is not in a person are blurred.
Tanya really hits home that in society there is still so much stigma attached to mental health issues. People are afraid of ‘abnormal behaviour’ and may turn their backs, when in fact the behaviour may have a treatable cause or is a coping strategy for a person in distress.
In this book, the narrative is not solely focussed on the people in treatment, but also on the person providing it, who has thoughts and feelings just as chaotic at times as the person seeking help. As well as exploring different facets of mental health and the subsequent treatment, there is also insight into more of the person’s character, not necessarily defined by the difficulties they are experiencing.
I was particularly moved by the story of the dementia patient who begins to relive the horrors of Nazi concentration camps during his decline. Obviously mental health can be a delicate subject and not clear cut in the slightest and the author has approached it with tact, respect and honesty, as well as with wit and personality.
I was thoroughly absorbed in this book and each unique story captivated me each in its own. Especially having done a psychology degree myself, I found both the psychological, practical and emotional insights incredibly fascinating and educational.
The Skeleton Cupboard is an artfully written, eye-opening read on a subject that is so important for people to acknowledge, informed and without judgement.