Book Review – Tacking on the Styx by Jeffrey L. Hatcher

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Full Title: Tacking on the Styx: An Epileptic Sails the Facts, Fiction and Philosophy of a Mental Illness
Genre: Psychology / Science
Publication Date: March 15th, 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouse

Tacking on the Styx is a fascinating and unabashed look at epilepsy and cognition, unique from your usual psychology book in that it is also intertwined with both memoir and a fiction narrative, so a richer, more empathetic understanding and sense of individuality can be gained as you also learn more about epilepsy and neurology of the brain.

Can I say first that Tacking on the Styx is ridiculously in-depth. It could well be the definitive book on epilepsy. The narrative benefits the medical text strongly as well, which you might not expect. It reminds me of David B.’s graphic novel classic, Epileptic, though is more striking, being from an epileptic person’s viewpoint rather than their close relative as Epileptic was. I would recommend both to get the best understanding if it’s something you wish to know more about.

The body’s most vital organ is a complex landscape. I don’t pretend to be a doctor, definitely having more of an amateur interest in medical science, but I think we can all agree with Hatcher in that empathy is the key to mapping and understanding the mind.
I can speak from personal experience, however, that a healthy environment is also vital. No one with any disorder, whether mental, physical or neurological, can hope to mollify or heal it in an environment completely devoid of empathy and peace.
The roads to recovery and stability are delicate indeed, and I think that while modern medicine is truly a godsend, doctors can lose sight of this, so it’s very necessary to have books like Styx to promote that understanding.

Tacking on the Styx is accessible to both the professional and the layman, dissecting the realities and myths of epilepsy with clarity. There’s a lot of stigma and legend surrounding epilepsy that still persists in an age when we should know better. I noticed that a lot of epilepsy myths were uncannily similar to those about schizophrenia, despite being distinctly different disorders.

The mythology around epilepsy is historically interesting, especially in regards to its relationship with religion, but these myths rise from dogma, superstition and fear and don’t need to be perpetuated when they often prevent people from getting proper treatment.

The story of Edgar Meyerhold is a wonderful and poignant touch that like I said, is rare to see in a scientific work, but adds a more potent, human depth to it that is very welcome and equally as engaging as the nonfiction chapters. Overall a brilliant work, and I highly recommend.

[Special thanks to the author for trading this book with me in exchange for an honest review.]

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