Tanya Byron starts off her story by telling her readers that every patient she discusses in this pseudo-memoir is fake. She says that she created them from dozens of people and experiences and that this story is actually about what it takes to become a clinical psychologist, proving that just because some people are trained to help you with your problems doesn’t mean they can handle their own. Byron wants you to know that everyone struggles and that the path to sanity/clarity isn’t always simple or what you expect. Saying all of that, I connected with every patient. Every story told I could easily believe and honestly wished for them to be okay. Byron messed with my emotions with fake patients! I felt like I should have been angry—robbed of being able to google videos of their personal testimonials of achieving emotional well-being.
Byron walks her readers through her different placements and training exercises where she meets a violent sociopath, a silent twelve year old determined to kill herself, a beautiful and talented teenage girl who is starving herself to keep her family together, and a wildly successful clothing designer dying of AIDS. The Skeleton Cupboard reads like a mystery novel with enough intrigue and twists to get anyone interested despite the fact that we’re talking clinical psychology. This is a great book for anyone interested or personally touched by mental illness. Byron’s clear, ethical, and sympathetic prose makes for an amazing memoir and examination of the psychiatric systems evolution in the UK.