In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang’s analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative.
... unnervingly excellent ... [Wang's] essays are all varied lenses on what it is to be one kind of human, to be schizoaffective, to be her. As a whole, The Collected Schizophrenias provides a new and welcome map for the severe landscapes of schizoaffective disorder, of cerebral disease, diagnosis, recovery, and relapse, of the many human mysteries of the schizophrenias. The essays are resoundingly intelligent, often unexpectedly funny, questioning, fearless and peerless, as Wang makes for brilliant company on 13 difficult walks through largely uncharted territory.
In Wang’s kaleidoscopic essays, memoir has been shattered into sliding and overlapping pieces so that the story of her life subtly shifts from essay to essay. The images and insights Wang summons from these shards are sometimes frustrating, but often dazzling, and worth the reconstructive work ... Wang is able to show off her novelist’s eye for detail, character and dialogue in her description of her time spent working at a camp for children with bipolar disorder. And her prismatic approach to ethical questions serves her especially well here ... [Wang's] descriptions of what it’s like to descend into psychosis are viscerally enlightening ... At times, the pervasive disorientation Wang employs in these essays — the zigzagging narrative, the tangled sense of time, the repetitions, the abrupt announcements of ever more diagnoses (PTSD, bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia, Lyme) — can be distracting. One alternately wishes Wang had been subjected to more disciplined editing and to more questioning of her vantage point. At other times, her multifaceted arguments can be gratifyingly mind-expanding.
[Wang's] elegant essays are strongest at their most personal — when she writes, with clinical precision, about what it feels like to believe that she’s dead, or to slip the boundary between our world and a sci-fi movie on TV — but they also confront major questions about psychiatric care with meticulous even-handedness ... Wang is a sharp critic of the ways we use badges and prizes to decide who is trusted to tell their own story ... Wang’s forays beyond the personal occasionally left me unsatisfied. At times, her cultural criticism — for example, an essay about the Slender Man, an urban legend that inspired two girls’ attempted murder of a third in 2014 — feels underdeveloped, like anecdotes still searching for what they have to say ... Still, [Wang's] characteristic nuance more often carries the ring of wisdom, hard won.