A Celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month

For Mental Health Awareness Month, the University of Notre Dame Press is proud to feature eight works that bring light to mental illnesses and tangential ideas such as interpersonal relationships, generational trauma, and healing.

In Disturbing Spirits, Beverly A. Tsacoyianis blends social, cultural, and medical history research methods with approaches in disability and trauma studies to demonstrate that the history of mental illness in Syria and Lebanon since the 1890s is embedded in disparate—but not necessarily mutually exclusive—ideas about legitimate healing. In this groundbreaking work, Tsacoyianis connects the discussion of global responsibility to scholarly debates about human suffering and the moral call to caregiving. 

Disturbing Spirits is a groundbreaking study written with remarkable clarity and empathy. Spanning over one hundred years of history and weaving together different disciplines, approaches, and a wealth of untapped primary sources, it tells the compelling story of the failure of the medical elites in Syria and Lebanon to impose modern psychiatry and erase local beliefs about the power of spirits to both cause and treat mental illnesses.”

—Sara Scalenghe, author of Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500–1800

Magnificent Errors is a collection of poems that shows how mental health challenges can elicit beauty, resiliency, and hope. Sheryl Luna reveals that individuals who suffer and experience injustice are often lovely and awe inspiring. Her poems reflect on immigrants in a detention camp, a meth addict, a homeless individual, and someone on food stamps. She explores the voices of people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or PTSD, poets, visual artists, and people living in a mental health community setting. With language that is fresh and surprising, Luna shares these remarkable poems that bring a reader into the experiences of marginalization and offer hope that grace and restoration do indeed follow.

“Sheryl Luna’s voice is unforgettable because she has a visionary touch where her experiences become our own. As readers, we are blessed to find ourselves in her poems. We have been waiting. As a poet, she shows us, in powerful poem after poem, what it takes for the poet to reveal her place in a difficult world. The result is a book that opens when the poet says so and rests, gently, in the reader’s hands.”

—Ray Gonzalez, author of Feel Puma

Images of Hope is a book about hope. Part 1 is a compact but necessarily limited attempt to describe the actual structure and concrete forms of hope and hopelessness; Part 2 is an exploration of a psychology of hope, the beginning of an investigation of what psychic forms and dynamisms move most toward hope and against hopelessness; and Part 3 is an analogous effort to suggest the outlines of a metaphysics of hope.

“While [Lynch] is learned enough about the literature that my field (psychiatry) has accumulated during its brief history, scholarship alone cannot account for his remarkable effectiveness in this volume. So, I must begin with a statement, which because of its simplicity is difficult to make cleanly: Father Lynch is genuinely devoted to our calling. In fact, I suspect he is more devoted than many of its practitioners who tend, understandably, to be more quickly discouraged by its deficiencies. In these days of fashionable get-togethers between religion and psychiatry, I am impelled to add that he has no wish to proselytize or be proselytized. In other words, he is the rarest of human beings—the outsider who can speak as a friend.”

American Journal of Psychiatry

The ten short stories of The Incurables limn the mental landscape of people facing conditions they believe are insolvable, from the oppressive horrors of mental illness to the beguiling and baffling complexities of romantic and familial love. Mark Brazaitis evokes with sympathy, insight, and humor the lives of characters in a small Ohio town.

The Incurables, through dark humor and twisted wittiness, parades in the worst of human failings. Brazaitis does not attempt to revel in misery, but rather to demolish the mystery of that misery and thus to lessen the pain of living. He shows that the worst parts of the human experience can be eased through examination and laughter, understanding and love. This collection makes a fine contribution to an already noteworthy career.”

New Madrid

The title of this book, Leibniz’s Mill, is taken from Leibniz’s famous metaphor in support of a dualism between the mind, or self, and the body. Charles Landesman’s basic claim, argued with clarity and philosophical precision, is that dualism is to be preferred to materialism; namely, the self is not reducible to the body, mental processes are not reducible to brain processes, and the idea that the self is a mental substance constitutes the best understanding of all the facts of mental life. He examines our knowledge of other minds, the mind’s knowledge of itself. 

“Landesman has no announced interest in God, theology, or grand metaphysical designs in Leibniz’s Mill, but is very interested in the philosophy of mind and its relation to science generally. He believes that a clear dualism between mind and body is not only preferable to materialism, but is quite compatible with modern science, which he believes is less precise and authoritative when presupposing materialistic presuppositions.”

Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Designed primarily for young adults, Charting Your Course provides a framework for holistic health based on seven life-health principles. These principles identify vital areas of life, including: attitude, personal values, wellness, relationships, community, the natural world and service to others.

“Written for young adult readers but ideal for all ages, Charting Your Course provides an ideal framework for holistic health as well as understanding, diminishing, and hopefully eliminating the epidemic abuse of alcohol and other drugs on college campuses. A unique feature are ‘legacy letters,’ these are letters written on request by fifty people in response to the question of ‘What would you leave young people if you were to die?’ These engaging letters address such issues as substance abuse, values, sexual orientation, religion, quality of life, AIDS, child abuse, parenting, and the spirit of living. Charting Your Course is an inspired compendium of sound advice and reflection.”

The Midwest Book Review

The poems in Manuel Paul López’s The Yearning Feed, winner of the 2013 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, are embedded in the San Diego/Imperial Valley regions, communities located along the U.S.-Mexico border. With humor and lyrical intensity, López addresses familial relationships, immigration, substance abuse, violence, and, most importantly, the affirmation of life. 

“In this eclectic collection, López brings readers to the edge of their convictions then redraws the borders, leaving us to find our own way back home. He has an uncanny ability to drop dynamic characters into situations where they face universal moral dilemmas. These pieces are inundated with haunting landscapes of dialogue, poignant juxtapositions, deliberate capriciousness, and spontaneous humor that will immigrate into your consciousness.”

—Rebecca Schumejda, author of Cadillac Men

Winner of the 2018 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, The Inheritance of Haunting, by Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes, is a collection of poems contending with historical memory and its losses and gains carried within the body, wrought through colonization and its generations of violence, war, and survival. Invoking individual and collective ghosts inherited across diverse geographies, this collection queers the space between past, present, and future. These poems are written for immigrants, queer and transgender people of color, women, Latin Americans, diasporic communities, and the many impacted by war.

“This collection is a rumination on the memories, the violence and the acts of liberation that live in the body across generations of colonization, war, and upheaval. . . . Representing the voices of individual and collective ghosts from across Latin America, this collection asks us to account for the past and to celebrate the lives that come after.”

Electric Lit

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