Monday, 29 September 2014

The Sleep Room

 What is on my night table

I found this book in a roundabout way...looking up information on the internet about sleep.  I've mentioned before that getting a good night's sleep is often elusive for me.  It seems every day I read or hear how important our sleep is to us and I wish I knew how to sleep better myself.  I have never used any of the over the counter drugs available but I have thought about them at times; I can understand the temptation to try them.  A good night's sleep is renewing and invigorating and even necessary for longevity apparently, so I've heard.
Anyway, this is The Sleep Room by F.R. Tallis and after reading a couple of reviews I decided to check it out of the library and I am glad I did.  I found the premise very interesting.  It centers around the idea that prolonged deep sleep could result in a disintegration of personality allowing a healthier rebuilding or reconstruction at a later stage.  This would be helpful to people who have been through horrific events or endured abuse, etc.  I have heard of how different forms of dementia cause amnesia and people lose their bad memories and are able to become renewed, in a sense.  So the idea of a deliberate therapy to produce similar results was interesting to me.
The book tells the story of a young psychiatrist, James Richardson, who is hired to work at a facility that is undertaking this controversial new therapy.  At a remote location, Wyldehope Hall in Suffolk, England, there are six women who had been extremely mentally disturbed and are now being kept in a state of prolonged sleep.  Dr. Hugh Maitland, an esteemed psychiatrist, is in charge of this pioneering project.  He has dismissed Freud's talking therapy and believes he has found an amazing new method to treat mental illness. Immediately for James there are questions because not all is as it seems...
This is part ghost story, part psychological treatise, part exploration of the validity of drug therapy in treating mental illness and I found some of the parts more interesting than others.  I did find some of the supernatural bits suspenseful; I have to give the author credit there because those are hard to write well.  The story was engaging and kept me reading till the end.  That ending I did not like, by the way.  I also found some of the dream descriptions long and boring.  Otherwise, I thought it overall a literate book and worth reading.  And I am still intrigued by the notion of sleep, the quality of which can affect so many aspects of our lives.