A Kind of "Mirraculas" Paradise: A True Story About Schizophrenia

Author Sandy Allen
Credit Rob Dubbin

Living with schizophrenia presented Sandy Allen’s Uncle Bob with lifelong obstacles. Bob was labeled as a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic, and lived a life consisting of isolation, various medications, and time in mental hospitals. Though Sandy didn’t know their uncle well, in 2009 Bob sent Sandy what he called his autobiography, asking them to share his story.

In this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Sandy Allen, a graduate of the University of Iowa’s non-fiction writing program, about their book “A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia."

“I wanted to challenge a base assumption that so many of us who haven’t received a diagnosis like schizophrenia have when it comes to people who have received a diagnosis like schizophrenia, which is, we don’t trust them. We’ve decided such people are unbelievable. And is that fair? Is it fair to presume that someone with a schizophrenia diagnosis is untrustworthy?” says Allen.

Trust and inherent bias are some of the main elements that fueled Allen’s motivation for writing the book. 

“I wanted to push back against that [bias] because I think there’s a bigotry in there, a mean thing that I think a lot of the rest of us - the sane, those of us who have never been in the position of being tossed in that psychiatric cell and given that diagnosis of schizophrenia - we need to really think through our biases and what it keeps us from seeing,” says Allen.