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Submitted Literature

Stanley and the Women

By Kingsley Amis


Kingsley Amis focuses his attention in this novel on the father of a young adult with schizophrenia - his coping strategies, shock and challenging of expectations of both his son and of mental illness. Symptoms of schizophrenia are realistically and accurately portrayed, providing a recognisable representation for both clinician and public.

Key Themes:

  • Carer Issues
  • Schizophrenia

Significant Quotes / Pages


22 - “When I got to the foot of the stairs it was like being in a Channel steamer with the drumming and shuddering of the water-system in the walls and all about.  In the kitchen the sound of water itself as it hit the sink was more noticeable.  There were pools of it, not very large or deep ones, on the floor and on the various work-surfaces nearby.  As I came in Steve was adding to them with what was bouncing off the glass in his hand.  This he seemed keen to rinse as thoroughly as possible.  Feeling ridiculously self-conscious I went past him not to quickly to the refrigerator and took out and opened a can of Carlsberg lager.  He knew I was there, of course, but he took no notice of me, or perhaps he did, because he turned off the tap and turned it on again just long enough to fill the glass, which he drained and refilled the same way, all at top speed as though he had taken a bet, and without any signs of pleasure or of anything else.  Obviously I had no way of knowing how many glasses he had drunk before I arrived.

By the time he was starting the fourth round of the process I had got a glass of myself, poured my beer and thrown the can away, so that from then on I was hanging about.  I tried to force myself to stroll out of the room.  Perhaps I ought to say something.  I was sure I remembered reading somewhere that children could actually welcome discipline.”

58 - “Words like mania and schizophrenia and paranoia ran through my mind.  I tried to remember what I had heard and read about madness and the treatment of it over the years but it was all a mess.  I just had the same settled impression as ever that the fellows in the trade had a very poor idea of what they were up to.  Now I came to think of it I did recall looking at a classy paperback where a psychiatrist had said that the only actual help they could give you when you went off your head was to keep you comfortable and safe and stop you doing things like killing yourself until you got better of your own accord if you were lucky or for the rest of your life if you were not.  Cheers.  But he had been making out a case, exaggerating, paying off scores or trying to write a bestseller.  Of course he had.  The business was bound to look pretty ropey from the outside, all wild theories and rich people going to the shrink every week for 20 years and mental hospitals with no roofs, and never mind the successes, the new drugs and therapies, the thousands of patients quietly though perhaps slowly improving.  There was certain to be going on.  Things were just the same with medical science, you only heard about the scandals and the mistakes and not about the marvellous cures.  Well no, it was not the same exactly that there were similarities.  And that psychiatrist book had been published quite a long time ago.”

Reference: Kingsley, Amis. 1984. Stanley and the Women. London: Vintage, 2004


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Tuesday 27th January 2009