Related to: 'Sane'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Aaron Gillies

Aaron Gillies, aka @TechnicallyRon on twitter, is a comedian and writer. He has been featured in and written for The Poke, Buzzfeed, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, amongst many others, and has produced viral content from 'Reasons my wife is crying' to 'a short guide to washing machine symbols' and 'a google autocompleted CV'. Aaron has written about mental health for many years in various publications.

Adam Becker

Adam Becker is a science writer with a PhD in astrophysics and an undergraduate degree in philosophy. His writing has appeared in the BBC and New Scientist. He has recorded a video series with the BBC and several podcasts with the Story Collider. He is also a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley's Office for History of Science and Technology. He lives in Oakland, CA.

Alex Loyd

Dr Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND, is the international bestselling author of The Love Code (hardcover title Beyond Willpower, Harmony, 2015) and The Healing Code (Grand Central Life & Style, 2011). He has been featured live on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS news programs as an expert in healing the source issues underlying illness and disease. Dr Alex lectures all over the world in person and on radio, Internet, and television, with approximately 150 speaking engagements a year. With little money and no advertising, he built the largest practice of its kind in the world, with hundreds of thousands of clients in 50 states and 167 countries (and counting). He lives in Leipers Fork, Tennessee, with his wife Hope and sons Harry and George.

Andy Cope

Andy describes himself as an author, happiness expert, qualified teacher and learning junkie. He has spent 10 years researching 'positive psychology' culminating in a 'PhD in Happiness' from Loughborough University. He has developed a series of keynotes and courses centreing on themes of happiness and flourishing, which he delivers in businesses and schools across the world. Andy has written several best-selling personal development books, including The Art of Being Brilliant, and is also a best-selling children's author. His Spy Dog series has enjoyed huge global success.

Ben Whishaw

Ben Whishaw is an award-winning British actor of stage and screen whose critically acclaimed performances have earned him an International Emmy Award and BAFTA Television Award for Leading Actor. His film and TV credits include The Danish Girl, Perfume and Skyfall, the BBC's Richard II, The Hour and A Very British Scandal.

David Robson

David Robson has worked as an editor at New Scientist and BBC Future, where he specializes in topics related to neuroscience and psychology. His writing has also appeared in Nature, the Observer and the Washington Post. He lives in London.

Donald Robertson

Donald Robertson is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, trainer and author who specialises in the treatment of anxiety and the use of CBT. He is the author of six books and many articles on philosophy, psychotherapy and psychological skills training.

Esther Perel

'Hello, I'm Esther... I imagine a world where we experience a sense of aliveness and vitality in our relationships, because the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. I've dedicated my life and career to understanding and improving human relationships. Let's continue to learn together.'Psychotherapist Esther Perel is recognised as one of the most insightful and original voices on modern love. She has changed the conversation on what it means to be in love and have a fulfilling sex life.. For the past ten years, she has worked with hundreds of couples who have grappled with infidelity. Betrayal hurts, she argues, but healing is possible. An affair can even be the doorway to a new marriage - with the same person. With the right approach, couples can learn from these tumultuous experiences, together or apart. Weaving real-life stories with incisive psychological and cultural analysis, Perel invites readers into a truly revealing exploration of modern marriage. She coaches, consults and speaks regularly on erotic intelligence, trauma, sexual honesty and conflict resolution. She is the bestselling author of Mating in Captivity and her TED Talk has reached 6.5 million views online.

Gary John Bishop

Born and raised in Glasgow, Gary John Bishop moved to the US in 1997. This opened up his pathway to the world of personal development, specifically to ontology and phenomenology in which he was rigorously trained for a number of years before becoming a senior programme director with one of the world's leading personal development companies. His lifelong commitment to shifting people's ability to exert real change in their lives drives him each and every day. He has a no-frills approach that has brought him an ever increasing following, drawn to the simplicity and real-world use of his work. He lives in Florida with his wife and three sons.

Glennon Doyle

GLENNON DOYLE is the author of the New York Times bestseller Carry On, Warrior and the founder of the online community Momastery, where she reaches more than one million people each day. She is also the creator and president of Together Rising a non-profit organization that has raised over four million dollars for families around the world through its Love Flash Mobs, which have revolutionized online giving. Glennon is a sought-after public speaker and her work has been featured on The TODAY Show, The Talk, OWN, NPR, and in The New York Times, Glamour, Newsweek,the Huffington Post, and in other television and print outlets. Glennon lives in Florida.momastery.comtwitter.com/Momasteryfacebook.com/glennondoyleinstagram.com/glennondoyle

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is one of the most influential writers on the linked subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. She's the author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers, Better Than Before and The Happiness Project. A member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, Rubin has an enormous following, in print and online; her books have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, in more than 35 languages; and on her popular daily blog, gretchenrubin.com, she reports on her adventures in pursuit of habits and happiness. She also has an award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.gretchenrubin.com twitter | facebook | instagram

Hazel Gale

Hazel Gale is a master practitioner of cognitive hypnotherapy, author and ex-athlete. Having competed internationally as a kickboxer and boxer, achieving World and National titles in the two sports respectively, she's well-versed in both the drive to succeed and the anxiety that can so often come hand-in-hand with that. In her practice and in her writing, Hazel aims to help others emerge victorious from their own battles, whatever they may be. Fight is Hazel's first book. It explores the psychology of self-sabotage while taking you on her journey, and offers a practical guide to reclaiming your self-control.

Helen Russell

Helen Russell is a journalist and the bestselling author of The Year of Living Danishly and Leap Year. Formerly editor of MarieClaire.co.uk, she now lives in Denmark and works as a Scandinavia correspondent for the Guardian, as well as writing a column on Denmark for the Telegraph and features for The Times, The Observer, Grazia, The Wall Street Journal and the Independent.

Imi Lo

Imi Lo is an award-winning mental health professional with extensive and international experience. She started her career as a mental health Social Worker, and later qualified as a Clinical Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, and a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. She has lived and worked in the UK, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia, and is an awardee of the Australian Government's International Endeavour Awards for academic and clinical excellence. She has worked in the NHS and charity setting, with more than 10 years of experience. She specialises in working with people with personality disorders, the LGBT population, and highly sensitive and gifted individuals.She is a faculty member of an UK Council for Psychotherapy accrediting institute and delivers lectures and workshops regularly for trainee therapists seeking accreditation, as well as supervising therapists as a clinical supervisor and mentor. Imi is the founder of Eggshell Therapy - a practice that is dedicated to serving emotionally intense people. Though it is based in London, her work has attracted interest and clients from all around the UK and the world.Imi wrote the introduction of the 'Art for Mindfulness' series for Harper Collins.

Joan Rosenberg

Joan I. Rosenberg, PhD is a highly regarded California-licensed expert psychologist, master clinician, trainer and consultant with over 35 years experience in the field. Dr Rosenberg has worked as a Staff Psychologist and as a graduate professor at Pepperdine University. As a cutting edge psychologist who is known as an innovative thinker, trainer and speaker, Joan has shared her life-changing ideas and models for emotional mastery, change and personal growth in professional and educational seminars, psychotherapy sessions and graduate psychology teaching. She has been recognized for her thought leadership and influence in personal development and has given hugely successful and inspirational TEDx Talks on Emotional Mastery, watched by over 7 million viewers on YouTube.

Jonathan Hoban

Jonathan Hoban is an Integrative Psychotherapist and Founding Director of central London practice Creative Counselling London Ltd. Born in Wimbledon in 1975, Jonathan spent his formative years walking with family and friends in the green spaces of Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. Jonathan trained to be a counsellor after he received personal therapy and reaped the benefits from it. His gratitude arising from the process led him to want to help others in the same way mental health professionals had guided and helped him. He has since developed techniques, philosophies and methods to help clients reconnect with their sense of power, confidence and intuition.Jonathan developed the concept of what he and others refer to as 'Walking Therapy' as an alternative method of therapy, and then went on to launch his 'Walking Therapy London' practice in 2014. His work has been featured in print, digital, and broadcast media in outlets including the BBC London News, The Telegraph, The Independent, Readers' Digest, Stylist Magazine, Stella Magazine, You Magazine, The Daily Mail, Women's Health, BACP Therapy Today Magazine, and Contemporary Psychotherapy.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Katja Pantzar

Helsinki-based writer, editor and broadcast journalist Katja Pantzar was born in Finland and raised and educated in Canada. A freelance member of the Finnish public broadcasting company Yle's news team, Pantzar is a regular contributor to Blue Wings, the inflight magazine of Finnair, and Helsinki correspondent for Monocle 24. She is the author of three guides to Helsinki: The Hip Guide to Helsinki, Helsinki by Light and 100 Things to Do in Helsinki. Finding Sisu is the first book Pantzar has written that will be published outside of Finland.

Ken Honda

Ken Honda is a bestselling author of self-development books in Japan. His expertise comes from owning and managing several businesses, including an accounting company, management consulting firm, and a venture capital corporation. His writings bridge the topics of finance and self-help, focusing on creating and generating personal wealth and happiness through deeper self-honesty. Ken's much-sought-after advice has been the impetus for thousands of people to take action toward self-realization, allowing them to work and live from a position of strength and solvency. Ken also provides ongoing support through mentoring programs, business seminars, therapeutic workshops, and correspondence courses.To date, Ken has published more than 110 books, has recorded weekly podcasts for 4 years, and has held seminars and conferences all over Japan for the last 12 years. He is the highest paid professional speaker in Japan. His seminars attract up to 1,000 people and sell out within an hour, and his Japanese website receives more than 250 testimonials and reader comments every day. He is the first person from Japan to be voted into the Transformational Leadership Council, a group of personal and professional development leaders. He is fluent in Japanese and English. He has focused on the Japanese market for 12 years, but is turning his attention to the rest of the world. He currently lives in Tokyo.

Mary Jane Grant

Mary Jane Grant is an experienced writer, a professor of creative thinking, a consultant in marketing, and a student of mindfulness. She divides her time between London and Toronto.