Styron tells of his descent into clinical depression, later hospitalization, and recovery. Much of this slim page work appeared last year in Vanity Fair magazine. In , Styron's 30 years of alcohol and more recent excessive tranquilizer intake Halcion combined to make alcohol poisonous to his system and deprived him totally of his friendly balm, the alcohol that he says allowed him to open up his works as a clear mind never could he adds that he never wrote while drinking. Shortly thereafter, he went into depression, which he thinks may or may not have been tied in with going cold turkey off booze. He puts forth various genetic hints his father had "battled the gorgon for much of his lifetime" and suggests buried childhood events to explain the origins of his illness.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Darkness Visible by William Styron. A work of great personal courage and a literary tour de force, this bestseller is Styron's true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression.
Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery. Get A Copy. Paperback , 84 pages. Published January 8th by Vintage first published September 4th More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews.
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Darkness Visible , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Apr 20, Jaline rated it it was amazing Shelves: xxcompleted. This very small volume was not an easy read. Styron eases us into his own story by relating stories of other writers and artists who experienced deep depression.
Some made it through but most did not. His stories are liberally laced with a depth of understanding that he acknowledged could only come to those who have experienced it. We are not talking about a few days or even depression over a week or two, but rather months where the elevator keeps going down no matter how many times one thump This very small volume was not an easy read. We are not talking about a few days or even depression over a week or two, but rather months where the elevator keeps going down no matter how many times one thumps the Up button.
The rawness of Mr. As he said, the wide variety of symptoms and idiosyncrasies of depression continue to make it difficult to treat. The relentless descriptions of the reality he was being bombarded with every day for months were an education that I will not soon forget.
I will also never forget that he did succeed in moving through it; just as his elevator skimmed the rock bottom of his life, it changed direction and began a slow and laborious climb upward again. Not without a near-crisis, and not without a lot of help. He emphasizes that point and also has some solid advice and words of wisdom to pass on to anyone who lives with a sufferer of depression, be it family or friends.
I do recommend this book to anyone who may be confronting depression themselves or that of a family member or friend. View all 83 comments. Jan 17, Lawyer rated it it was amazing Shelves: , memoir , suicide , depression , william-styron , psychotherapy , pharmacology , psychiatry , hospitalization , melancholia.
Comedy is hard. My thoughts swirl over the important content of Styron's brief memoir originally delivered as a lecture in Baltimore, The information contained in this little volume is too important to trust to hastily dashed off thoughts, without the benefit of careful consideration. So a night's sleep is called for. And, truthfully, to consider how much of myself I choose to reveal within my review of Styron's story. For much of what he has to say, also applies to me, as it does to many among us.
Yet, I am not unaware of the stigma brought about by confession. My inclination is truthfulness leads more to seek help. I did. It has made all the difference. For I emerged from darkness, once again to see the stars. There is much joy in the night sky, but a terrible loneliness in the dark, without even a match to strike to hold to a candle's wick.
The Heart of the Matter-January 25, It has taken considerably more time than one night of good sleep to bring myself to write an adequate review of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. For I did not stop with this brief but brilliant account by William Styron. I continued on to with Reading My Father by his youngest daughter, Alexandra Styron , an absorbing, intimate memoir detailing what it was like to be William Styron's daughter in good times and in bad.
The bad included not only the time Styron so articulately described in this work, but in his continuing battle clinical depression. His battle did not end with the publication of Darkness Visible in Rather, Styron was revisited by "the black dog," the "dark river," "the abyss," a number of times before his death in No, Styron did not die by his own hand. He endured cancer of the mouth, and died of complications from pneumonia.
A review of Reading My Father will follow at some point, hopefully in the very near future. West III is at the right corner of my desk.
Yes, I am making a study of Styron's life and his works, a number of which I have read at this time, but not all of them. Many, some published posthumously have a great bearing on Styron's life view, his state of mind during some of the most difficult points in his life. There was something else I had to give considerable thought to before writing this review. I indicated that in my "hastily dashed off thoughts" now appearing in what I have called the Preamble to the main body of this review.
Those of you who have read my reviews know that I have often included personal details of my life. This will be the most personal review I have ever written. Not only will you read of Styron's thoughts on the nature of depression, but you will learn of mine, something that I struggled to hide for many years, quite successfully, until, I, too, slid off the edge of the world in much the same fashion as did Styron.
It is not so much that confession is good for the soul, but that with each voice speaking about the debilitating anguish of depression, perhaps those who do not understand it will not view those who suffer from it weak human beings, would be shirkers of responsibility, or simply spineless beings. Styron did much to dispell that stigma. However, many people who share those misconceptions, quite frankly do not read William Styron. I have come to wonder if they read much of anything.
I also have a few things to say about the pharmaceutical industry and the manner in which they pitch their products in endless streams of mindless commercials. It draws on literary allusion after allusion. Note the very source of its title. Paradise Lost by John Milton. For its subject matter it is remarkably succinct, a mere ninety pages.
It is remarkable for its clarity. Styron is remarkable for his revelation of his illness, it is the taking off the mask that those battling depression wear so well, for so long. Styron reveals his self medication with alcohol, perhaps an addiction, though he never calls it alcoholism. Yet he reveals that he frequently wrote under the influence of alcohol and could not do so without a fluent flow without the aid of alcohol.
At the age of sixty, the mere taste of alcohol resulted in pure revulsion. He was devastated by insomnia night after night. He discloses that he was an auto-didact. He was a master at self-diagnosis. Before seeking psychiatric help he had pondered over the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, what I call the ultimate cookbook containing all the diagnostic recipes for disorders large and small for psychologists and psychiatrists.
To further complicate matters, though Styron does not admit it in Darkness Visible Styron was a hypochondriac extraordinaire. We can thank daughter Alexandra for that information. Styron cracked apart in on a trip to Paris to accept the Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca, awarded for his lifetime achievement in producing works reflecting on great humanism. The award was offered by the wife of his French Publisher. Del Duca had published Styron's first novel Lie Down in Darkness in , and had published each of his ensuing works.
It was to be a day of festivities.
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness is a memoir by American writer William Styron about his descent into depression and the triumph of recovery. It is among the last books published by Styron and is widely considered one of his best and most influential works. Darkness Visible also helped raise awareness for depression, which was relatively unknown at the time. First published in December in Vanity Fair , the book grew out of a lecture that Styron originally delivered at a symposium on affective disorders at the Department of Psychiatry of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
How William Styron Kept Me Alive
A few months later, he released the essay as a book, augmenting the article with a recollection of when the illness first took hold of him: in Paris, as he was about to accept the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca, the French literary award. He also exposed the inadequacy of the word itself, which is still used interchangeably to describe a case of the blues, rather than the tempestuous agony sufferers know too well. Depression is notoriously hard to describe, but Styron managed to split the atom. It may be more accurate to say that despair… comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this cauldron As someone who has fought intermittently with the same illness since college, those sentences were cathartic, just as I suspect they were for the many readers who wrote to Styron disclosing unequivocally that he had saved their lives. As brutal as depression can be, one of the main ways a person can restrain it is through solidarity.