Bloomsbury USA just sent me a review copy of a fantastical new book by debut author Darryl Cunningham called —  Psychiatric Disorders — and on February 1, 2011, you can purchase your own copy of this magnificent piece of art and wondering.

The stories are starkly told in black and white cartoons that eerily echo the horror of the Maus series of books on the Holocaust while also teaching us about the maddening meanderings of a deconstructive mind.

Here’s a review from Publisher’s Weekly:

In this debut book, Cunningham tells his reader right away that he has a message to impart. Having worked for years as a health care assistant in a hospital’s psychiatric ward, he states his intent to counter the stigma surrounding mental illness and to represent the patients who suffer from “this most mysterious group of illnesses.” The down and dirty truth about what it takes to care for dementia patients, the acts that self-harming patients are capable of, and the conundrum of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia all make for powerful, informative, and sometimes difficult reading. Cunningham’s message, that “a mental illness is a brain disease just as a stroke or a brain tumor is a brain disease,” is delivered in direct, no-nonsense language, while black and white drawings convey the hectic life of the disordered mind. Cunningham frequently speaks directly to sufferers, telling them that their symptoms are not their fault, that there are ways of dealing with them and simply that “you can survive.” Speaking with compassion and clarity, Cunningham tells of his own struggles with severe anxiety and depression. creating a valuable tool for both those within the mental health profession and casual readers who may know someone with mental illness.

The books is quite beautifully published in a hardcover, and that tact immediately gives the book a heaviness and an importance that a paperback published on acid paper cannot begin to match.

Darryl Cunningham effectively addresses the trouble in our times: How can we begin to cogently live an independent life if our minds are interdependent on a craftiness that we may not be able to understand or detangle?

Are we prisoners in our own minds?

Or do our minds set us free — even in perceived madness?

Darryl Cunningham is waiting create some understanding with you.  Make sure to join him on February 1.

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