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Submitted Literature

Comforts of Madness

By Paul Sayer


Paul Sayer’s most well-known novel “The Comforts of Madness” brilliantly represents the experience of catatonia, with an accurate depiction of nihilistic delusions and an ontological focus. 

Key Themes:

  • Institutional Abuses
  • Psychosis
  • Revealing Reads

Significant Quotes / Pages

39 – “I was cracking up.  Certain of it.  Why couldn’t they just leave me alone?  Renegades.  Cunts.  I was not coming apart in the mental sense, that much I was reasonably sure about.  No, this was different.  You see, bits of me were breaking loose, shaking free inside, kidneys, heart, spleen, even my intestines, were all freeing themselves from their moorings, lifting their roots from the brittle shell of my body which seemed to want nothing to do with keeping its respective components in place.”

57 – “How nice it would have been to have had some kind of order in my head, to have had my mind sectioned off into compartments, little boxes on the dusty floor of my brain, here my grievances, in this one my fears, here the past, here the dark future […] Survival, it has to be said, was my chief, no my single, concern.  I was worried over my own health and the changes being brought about in me.  Sometimes I though I would explode with all the stuff Tom poured down my throat.  Anxiety breeds anxiety and sometimes I re-entertained one of my oldest fears: that of going blind.  And here I give myself away.  Oh, I might have claimed I felt I had no influence on those who ministered to me; and yes, I might have believed that I did not care; but I was only flesh and blood, still flesh and blood, just like them.  My sight was my life and although unreliable at times it was my distraction from myself for, if left totally to my own devices I should crack, perish, if I were lucky.”


105 – “I could not move, had no strength, no desire to.  Nothing was left in me at all.  He laid me back on the hot sand and I reflected on the first wave of a warm, comforting stillness breaking over me, a quiet madness of my own making.  In a funny sort of way it was how I imagined a homecoming might be.  […] I watched him scurry away, my sight having returned fully by this time, and allowed myself one last indulgence before the years that followed: I smiled.”



Reference: Paul, Sayer. 1988. Comforts of Madness. London: Sceptre, 1992


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Monday 23rd March 2009