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By Khaos

ISBN: 9781849915243
Published: 2011
Pages: 167
Key Themes: psychosis, non-fiction, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder


Styx is a book of narrative nonfiction. It is a very personal story. The subject matter is the stigma associated with mental illness. The style is poetic, confessional, memoir, and documentary. The narrative reflects on mental illness through the metaphors of passage, crossing, and travel. The author explores what it means to suffer the trauma of hospitalization including restraints and forced medication. The book is inspired by Greek mythology of the passage into the underworld as well as the innocence of childhood rhymes teaching children not to be hurt by namecalling when, ironically, that is what medical diagnosis does. The title refers to the river Styx in Greek mythology, which many attempted to cross into Hades. Of those who made it across into the underworld, few returned. The authors name, Khaos, refers to the gender neutral Greek god, who created the universe from the miasma of nothingness that preceded creation. Shifting between the past, present, and future, the narrative reflects the mechanisms the body has to deal with trauma. While this book is non fiction, memoir, and poetry, it is inspired by Toni Morrison’s development of her protagonist, Sethe, in Beloved. The illness described in the book and the authors professional pursuit of medicine are often at odds with each other due to the taboo nature of the illness and specifically the taboo way in which the authors family and society treat mental illness. As such, the book is a coming-out project with regard to the illness.

About the Author

Categorized as psychotic over ten years ago, Khaos has undergone the shame and stigmatization of being referred to as mentally ill. The diagnoses used to describe this condition have included schizophrenia, paranoid delusional, bipolar, and depressed. The author has refused the categories and pursued a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Stanford University. Khaos graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. in History and Literature and the University of Chicago with a masters in Social Science. She is currently applying to medical school. Born in 1972 and writing all her life, the author has never before attempted to document what is considered so taboo in her family and society at large, psychosis.


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