“On Being Insane” Book Review

“I am not sane in an insane place. Rather, I am insane in sane places. But perhaps good can also be done by being insane in sane places.”
– On Being Insane, Elliot Gavin Keenan

Title: On Being Insane: In Search of My Missing Pieces
Author: Elliot Gavin Keenan
Published By: Dreaming Big Publications, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica B

Genre: Memoir

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The bravery and talent that this 21 year old has in composing and publishing a memoir is unbelievable. So much has already happened in Elliot’s life that I didn’t believe he was only 21. I have so much respect for this author in sharing his story at such a young age. The memoir jumps around to various points in Elliot’s life as he crafts his personal story. While this makes it confusing at some points, I think it adds to the overall feeling of the memoir. It makes the reader understand how much goes in inside someone’s head and how natural it is to bounce from experience to experience when recalling the past. It acts more like a conversation to me, as if Elliot was sitting across from me telling his story.

While I agree with others that the timeline and bouncing around can be confusing and feel disorganized, I think it is to be expected in a young memoir. I believe that Elliot could expand on this memoir in the future, hopefully with more positive experiences and reflection. If I could give it a rating of 3.5 I think that would reflect my opinion better, however I opted to give it a higher rating due to the respect I have as a reader and aspiring author.

About the Book:
36552950.jpgAfter being diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder at age seven, Elliot becomes fascinated with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the Bible of American psychiatry) and its enumeration, categorization, and systematization of innate human differences. This specialized knowledge of the DSM’s rules and codes comes in handy as Elliot struggles through multiple psychiatric hospitalizations for severe bipolar depression, but his dreams of being a clinical psychologist seem ever further out of reach until a kindly professor and autism scientist termed herein as Dr. Pinball takes notice of his abilities. This is a story of one young man’s searching: for sanity, for stability, and for the people who understand. They may be found in unlikely places.

About the Author:
Elliot Gavin Keenan is 21 years old and now a PhD student in Human Development & Psychology at UCLA. He has published a lyric essay in the literary journal Gravel. He has Asperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorder. His research, which has been funded by the Autism Science Foundation, focuses on comorbidity in autism spectrum disorder. In his spare time he enjoys strategy board games, swing sets, and using italics.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for writing a review. I am not obligated to give a positive review, and all thoughts are my own.







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