Stories of Uncertainty and Hope
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A leading psychiatrist's professional and personal reflections on mental illness – beautifully written, informative and accessible.
'This book has irrevocably changed my understanding of madness. Through succinct and often poetic accounts Baumann carefully mediates access to glimpses of the brave, fearful, lonely and vulnerable humanities of those suffering from psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia. The text, illuminated by extraordinary artwork, compels one to believe that beyond all the distress and despair, there is, and always should be, hope.' – Antjie Krog
For many of us, mental illness is often shrouded in mystery, misconception and fear. Baumann spent decades as a psychiatrist at Valkenberg Hospital and, through his personal engagement with patients' various forms of psychosis, he describes the lived experiences of those who suffer from schizophrenia, depression, bipolar and other disorders.
Baumann argues cogently for a more inclusive way of making sense of mental health. With sensitivity and empathy, his enquiries into the territories of art, psychology, consciousness, otherness, free will and theories of the self reveal how mental illness raises questions that affect us all.
Sean Baumann has worked for 25 years as a consultant to the male acute service at Valkenberg Hospital in Cape Town and was a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town. He obtained degrees in the arts and in medicine and qualified as a specialist psychiatrist in London, UK. His interests are psychotic illnesses, more specifically the schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and chronic pain. He is the editor of Primary Care Psychiatry: A Practical Guide for Southern Africa (2007). His cantata Madness: Songs of Hope and Despair was performed at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town in 2017.