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Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

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Altostrata

David Foster Wallace was a brilliant American writer who took his own life in 2008 after 1.5 years of Nardil withdrawal syndrome.

 

This April 5, 2011 article by Maria Bustillos in The Awl describes his efforts to understand himself, as found among his books and papers in a public collection.

 

Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

 

http://www.theawl.com/2011/04/inside-david-foster-wallaces-private-self-help-library/

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alexjuice

David Foster Wallace was a brilliant American writer who took his own life in 2008 after 1.5 years of Nardil withdrawal syndrome.

 

This April 5, 2011 article by Maria Bustillos in The Awl describes his efforts to understand himself, as found among his books and papers in a public collection.

 

Inside David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library

 

http://www.theawl.com/2011/04/inside-david-foster-wallaces-private-self-help-library/

 

Just a few days ago I learned an interesting fact about David Foster Wallace. His papers were bought and archived by the University of Texas at Austin where they are available for public perusal at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC). I have walked by the HRC 500 times in my career as a student and Austinite generally but have never been inside. We (it's my alma matter) also keep a Gutenberg Bible at HRC.

 

I spoke with someone recently who traveled to Austin specifically to look through these documents. I talked to him after the trip, and he told me it was a treasure for him to get access to all that stuff. He, like many, is a huge David Foster Wallace fan.

 

I haven't read any of his fiction. I only know of Infinite Jest, as it is the favorite book of a very close friend. I do recall reading a DFW Rolling Stone piece about the 2000 R primary between McCain and Bush and thinking highly of it. It was in a book that compiled the best magazine feature writing from that year. I think there was a Malcolm Gladwell essay about Ron Popeil the infomercial guy as well.

 

So if anyone is ever in Austin, I can show you to the HRC, and we can both walk through the doors for the first time.

 

Alex.I

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Altostrata

Yes, this article is about the books and papers in the Harry Ransom Center.

 

I'll take you up on that offer next time I'm in Austin, alex.

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alexjuice

Yes, this article is about the books and papers in the Harry Ransom Center.

 

I'll take you up on that offer next time I'm in Austin, alex.

 

That would be lovely. I hope I am well enough by that time to be a good tour guide. :-)

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Healing

I don't know his timeline -- when he started experiencing depression, when he used which street drugs and alcohol, when he first started meds, when he had the ECT. So, I don't know what to attribute to meds, and what not. Certainly, being in MAOI w/d and *not knowing it* pushed him over the edge into suicide.

 

I skimmed bits of the article, and I see he closely read Alice Miller's "Drama of the Gifted Child," which is a favorite of mine. That book helped me a lot. I wish it could have helped him more. Had he already been exposed to meds at that point? ECT? These would have made learning difficult.

 

This website, survivingantidepressants, will make this kind of tragedy less likely to occur. If a person is in extreme distress and they discover that it is due to psych med w/d, then they can hold out. Wait for healing. There is something to look forward to. And, just as important, *things begin to make sense*.

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Altostrata

He struggled with depression all his life, and attempted suicide several times before Nardil withdrawal.

 

In the March 9, 2009 New Yorker, D. T. Max recounted David Foster Wallace's last days. Max gives enough detail that it's clear Wallace had withdrawal syndrome from Nardil and desperately sought treatment for 1.5 years from various psychiatrists who prescribed various drugs to which he had various adverse reactions, all of which are quite familiar to us.

 

Wallace had quit Nardil (under the supervision of a psychiatrist, of course) because he at last felt his life was stable, his marriage was working, and he was tired of the side effects of this very nasty MAOI.

 

Like you, Healing, I believe that had he known he was suffering from withdrawal syndrome rather than some exotic, impossible-to-treat new mental illness, he might not have killed himself.

 

I wrote to D.T. Max at the time of the New Yorker article but never heard back.

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btdt

Seems we have reading choices in common.. when drugged for years and in therapy as long I read many of the same books... Alice Miller Bradshaw...ect ect ect... all the self help section at a couple of major libraries. I was in a group a serious healing group all of us were on or had been on Ads and other psych drugs none of use knew any of the side effects fallout or how the drugs were affecting us ... we all sought help.  I was the queen of the books of intellectualizing everything of seeking understanding.  One may look back and see that as a huge waste of time where if we had all just tapered off our drugs most answer would have been found there... no matter how smart David Wallace was he did all this seeking reading and writing while drugged and as I look at this I can see the same patterns I am those in my groups enacted....

 

 

 

"A highlighted passage in Bradshaw On: The Family:

Thought Disorders:
You are always reading about your problems, learning why you are the way you are.
You are numb
You control your emotions and feel shame when you can’t
You gauge your behavior by how it looks–by the image you believe you’re making.

Wallace’s notes in Bradshaw On: The Family and especially in Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child reveal a person who felt himself to be messed up totally and permanently. He felt particularly nailed and revealed to himself by the latter book, one in which he blames his mother for quite a lot of his suffering.

To say that Wallace took The Drama of the Gifted Child to heart is to put it very mildly indeed. He returned to it over and over again; his notes were made at many different times, in wildly differing sizes and styles of penmanship, states of mind.

 

I could produces boxes of writings and shelves of books ... 

that appear the same 

sadly he did not live to find the real answers... 

 

Now my thoughts turn to all those in all the groups of my past and I wonder if they ever learned their drug may be their problem. 

peace all

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LoveandLight

Yes, I wonder all the "depression help groups I've been in..did they ever realise..peace

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WiggleIt

Love DFW. Glad to see him mentioned here on SA.

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WiggleIt

Since learning about my own wd, I've often suspected that's why DFW eventually took his life. And Robin Williams. The pharmaceutical industry has blood on its hands from both these artists. Period.

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btdt

I was reading the last psychiatrist today and Altos posts again seems they are all over the net 

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2009/04/how_dangerous_is_academic_psyc_1.html#more

 

Then I came here to see what SA had to say about him and find my own post on the topic I also noticed he died 1.5 years into wd... that would be 17  months off close to the point I and some others hit a bad spot... I called it the 18 months it may have taken me awhile to get my sea legs and post about it... 

 

for me it was a time where things went bad following consistent improvement .. yes there were windows and waves but I could see I was headed out.. out of wd till the about the 18 month mark where things went bad and a deep negativity hit me along with many symptoms ...it stayed long and hard a good while maybe a few months without relenting but it did relent and thing became better... 

 

Before this 18 month mark I had a time where I was sure I would be healed completely in a few more months a year tops and Mean healed working having sex enjoying my life HEALED.. as I had been good I felt happy I was much more functional... before the 18 month hit... 

 

and we should talk about it cause...

 

if this is going to be a bad spot for some  people I think it would be a decent thing to tell them it can happen and that it does relent... it seems to me it does happen to enough people to at deserve a mention

 

peace all

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btdt

I started a thread called 18 months off and just searched SA for it both here and on Google it is not showing up was it deleted?  

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