Steve Lopez “The Soloist” – comments on mental illness

Four passages in “The Soloist” had an impact on me with regard to the book’s primary theme of mental illness.

The ending of Chapter 2 is one of the most memorable of the book:
“Nathaniel begins to play, slicing through the madness. His eyes are closed, and in his shuttered world there is order, logic, sanity, sweet relief. If only for a while”.
This is a predictable scene, yet establishes the compelling opening observation about Nathaniel and sets the stage for all that follows.

Chapter 7:
“a schizophrenic’s mind is cluttered with images and thoughts are strewn everywhere. You can’t organize your mind, but you can organize your shopping cart. So you do.”
An excellent explanation of certain compulsive behaviors that we see in our lives.

Blasting Tom Cruise in Chapter 9:
“Cruise has brilliantly bolstered all the primitive thinking about mental illness, making it out to be a choice born of moral and emotional weakness”.
Sounds too familiar.

The book ends with a line that transcends mental illness and yet Nathaniel’s comment gives us all good reason to question all that we think we know about mental illness:

“I don’t want the concert to ever end”.


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