Food for Thought: The Books of FH Author Will Jiang

Posted on February 7, 2014

Author and Fountain House member Will Jiang

Author and Fountain House member Will Jiang

I am happy to present three of my most important writings on mental health to date. My name is Will Jiang, and before coming to Fountain House I worked for a year as an adjunct lecturer at Kingsborough Community College, and then I served for seven years as NYSPI/Columbia Psychiatry’s Chief Patient Librarian. Now, I am writing and working as a freelance designer. My most fun and exciting new project as a designer has been www.freelanguagepractice.com because I feel that learning a language should be a free exchange between cutures.

My books include the following three titles.

The Medical Librarian's Guide to Natural Mental Health: Anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, Schizophrenia, and Digital Addiction: Nutrition, and Complementary Therapies, 2nd edition.

This book is important to me because rates of serious and persistent mental illness keep climbing for a multitude of modern-day reasons, and I feel I knew enough about the situation to write about some natural things we can do to help ameliorate and, sometimes, prevent serious mental illness such as schizophrenia.

A Historical Reader: The New York Times and Madness, 1851-1922

“Todo escritó no es la verdad.” is Spanish for, “Don’t believe everything you read.” That applies for sure, to even the “Paper of Record”, The New York Times when it comes to reporting about the science and society of mental illness. Reading Freud, for me, for the first time, in his own words was amazing. To read about the supposed scientific cures and tests for dementia praecox, now known as schizophrenia, is, in retrospect, laughable. The use of the lives of American men and women residing in mental asylums as unwitting subjects in deadly scientific experiments, horrifies our modern sensibilities. This reader brings us back to an earlier time in mental health, and it is important to go back in history to primary documents  to see how far we have come and how far we still have to go as a society.

A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope

This is my bestselling autobiography. As the title says, it is a tale of madness and a chronicle of hope. When Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly, of A Beautiful Mind fame, came to visit me after she learned about my book, I knew my memoir would touch people’s lives. Jennifer and I sat talking and sharing, for a little more than an hour in my patient library at NYSPI. My library overlooks the majestic Hudson and the picturesque Palisades, in upper Manhattan. I remember it was a fine autumn day, and the leaves on the trees by the river were turning all kinds of beautiful oranges, fiery reds and mellow yellows . She was dressed down, in jeans, probably because she did not want to be mobbed during her visit. In retrospect, I noticed her quick mind and insightful questions. Also, I respected her family-oriented mind. When she left, I vowed that my book would be bigger than Sylvia Nasar’s A Beautiful Mind someday. After I lowered the cost of the book, that did happen, for one day on Amazon.com. It was a dream come true.

I guess my autobiography is important to me because of what my sister-in-law told me one day, when I was about half-way finished with the long text and discouraged, with writers block. She said to me, “Will, you have an important story to tell, and if you only help one person with your inspirational life story, then it was a book worth writing.” I saw truth in her words. As of last month, my stories have reached over three thousand readers, and I have touched more than three thousand lives, hopefully for the better. I hope to reach more readers. The books sell slowly but surely. Maybe someday soon will be a big break for me as a writer. Who knows what the future may hold. As George Michael famously sang, “You gotta have faith.”

Please check out my bibliography of books in English and Spanish.

Will Jiang
Research Unit, Fountain House

 

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