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Powell's Books Presents Sarah Fay in Conversation With Anthony Swofford
In a stunning debut — both a beautiful memoir and a brilliant work of investigative journalism that joins that ranks of works by Mary Karr, Leslie Jamison, and Kay Redfield Jamison – the former editor of The Paris Review explores the ways we pathologize human experiences, and offers a searing critique of the handbook of modern psychiatry. Over the course of 25 years, doctors diagnosed Sarah Fay with six different conditions — anorexia, major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder. Pathological (HarperOne) is the gripping story of the factors that led to those diagnoses, and the impact each had on her life. But it is also a rigorously researched investigation into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — psychiatry’s “bible,” the manual from which all mental illness diagnoses come. Yet as Fay found out, this revered standard is fiction. Fay contemplates what it means to live with mental illness and what it has meant for her life, and for many others in similar circumstances. So many people have been misdiagnosed and over-diagnosed with multiple (sometimes competing) conditions, causing massive confusion, immense anguish, and unnecessary suffering. As Fay learned, with knowledge comes the ability to understand what invented terms like “clinical depression” or “anxiety disorder” or “bipolar disorder” or any other DSM diagnosis really means. In telling her story, Fay uses a surprising literary device, a fresh and entertaining survey of the rules and history of punctuation, to illuminate how, like pathology, punctuation orders and categorizes, and tries to make sense of what’s otherwise disordered. Fay will be joined in conversation by Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead and Exit A.

Mar 24, 2022 05:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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Sarah Fay
Sarah Fay is an author and activist. Her writing appears in many publications, including Longreads, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time Magazine, The New Republic, McSweeney's, The Believer, and The Paris Review, where she served as an advisory editor. She's the recipient of the Hopwood Award for Literature, as well as grants and fellowships from Yaddo, the Mellon Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony, among others. She's the founder of Pathological: The Movement (www.pathological.us.), a public awareness campaign devoted to making people aware of the unreliability and invalidity of DSM diagnoses and the dangers of identifying with an unproven mental illness. For more, visit www.sarahfay.org.
Anthony Swofford
Anthony Swofford is the author of the memoirs Jarhead and Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails and the novel Exit A. His essays, reportage, and opinion pieces have appeared in Harper’s, the Guardian, Slate, and the New York Times, among other places. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and West Virginia University. He received his fiction MFA from the Writers’ Workshop. Knopf will publish his next book, a biography of Carlos Arredondo, a Gold Star Father and hero of the 2013 marathon bombing in Boston. He’s currently writing a campus novel called Eight Great Atheists. He lives with his wife, the writer and photographer Christa Parravani, their three children, and two dogs called Kingsley and Beef.