Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Required introductory psychology courses teach students a general and oversimplified version of the immense number of subfields within Psychology studies, much like introductory literature classes compress different genera throughout history into a miniscule number of “representative” texts. Nevertheless, these footholds generate an entryway into a whole new world of (specialized) exploration. Reading a text such as The Quiet Room: A Journey out of the Torment of Madness by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett provides a window for many students to crawl into one of Psychology’s darkest shadows, the field of abnormal psychology. Schiller’s non-fictional memoir, The Quiet Room, tells readers about the experiences of living with schizophrenia. Since psychology maintains a focus on the narrative of the mind, it has an innate interest in non-fictional literature. However, fictional literature offers both Psychology and Literary Studies a window into unique forms and styles of psychological narratives, such as found in the novel The Drowning Girl: A Memoir by Caitlin Kiernan. The Quiet Room has a laser focuses on schizophrenia and presents an accurate account of the inner world of a mind plagued with the diverse and intrusive symptoms of the illness. Schiller’s memoir is a non-fictional recollection of Shiller’s own personal experiences with schizophrenia and offers an insider’s view into the illness. Schiller recounts her ten-year fight with her mental illness from the first onset to several suicide attempts, including living life after diagnosis, moving in and out of mental hospitals, struggling to find the right balance of medications, and eventually finding hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. The book is used in introductory psychology courses to familiarize undergraduate students with abnormal psychology due to its highly descriptive explanations of symptoms, treatments, side effects of neurological drugs, and even the affective reality of the impossibility of living a “normal” life The narrative is a collection of different perspectives including Schiller’s personal memories, 5 family members’ and friends’ inner circle viewpoints, formal hospital records, and Mental Health Professionals’ personal and professional remarks on Schiller’s case. This real-world perspective provides an in-depth understanding of the illness. It exposes the secrets persons with schizophrenia may hide from outsiders and explains why a person might hide those symptoms. In addition, Schiller’s parents’ reflections help to explain how their heteronormative expectations are unraveled as their awareness of the mental illness transforms into acceptance.