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God HeadReview - God Head
A Novel
by Scott Zwiren
Dalkey Archive Press, 1996
Review by Dianne Rockenstein, M.A.
Oct 17th 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 42)

What will he tell others? What he thinks they want to hear or what they will accept? Or will he tell them the truth he comes to know... That HE IS GOD?

Despite the brevity of this novel, it is a very difficult book to read. If life is a state of mind... then, Zwiren draws us to a place where no one wants to go. It is a disturbing, mind-boggling journey of one young man’s experience with severe manic-depressive illness. We are drawn into his world where wild delusional fantasies are realities.
 

"Feeling like God, being God, means being on all the time, slowing down is a problem, sitting in a bar with strangers who have no idea of the change that’s overtaken me, I’m drinking liquor, beer, Guiness stout, to slow me down, because it’s hard to manage this head.

I’m working on an antigravity suit. The preliminary sketches are already done When it’s finished I will fly it over to Washington, D.C., and declare world peace on the White House lawn."


Zwiren transports us through a decade of winters and summers in this young man’s life. There are no springs or autumns here - no grays. Every aspect of his life is either extreme black or white. Anything less would be out of place. Alternating seasons of paralyzing lows and uncontrollable highs. This maddening roller coaster ride is woven together with a relentless psychosis or detachment from common realities. The narrator’s own world of delusions is powerful and all encompassing. We may find the necessity to set this book aside occasionally to refocus our own minds.

A seventeen-year-old college freshman has lost the ability to make conversations, decisions, to sleep, to laugh, to smile... he is tempted to jump off the roof of a building on campus. His mother calls - he’s going home. "Nothing matters. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing."

He navigates the streets of his home in New York City. A series of menial jobs are interrupted by stays in psychiatric hospitals. In one season, the all-powerful God Head is capable of designing an antigravity suit and declaring world peace. In another season, he attempts to hang himself with a belt from a plant hook or overdose on Haldol or jump in front of an oncoming subway train with horrendous tragic consequences he must live with the rest of his life.

In yet another season, we find the young man living in a supervised group residence home interrupted by necessary hospital stays. He roams the streets of the city living in his alternate reality unable to make any real connections with others as he is driven by his moods... by his delusions...
 

"I jump up overwhelmed, I’ve got to get out. I’ve got to walk off my head; all that material world matter is peeling away too fast. I’ve got to get outside and walk... I AM HIM, I AM HE, I AM, I AM, I AM."


God Head is a powerful, excellent book for those seeking a better understanding of manic-depressive illness - not through a list of symptoms but by experiencing the horror first hand through one unfortunately afflicted but courageous young man. It is recommended not only for students of psychology and mental health practitioners but for anyone whose life has been touched by this illness through afflicted family members or friends.

Dianne is a widow living with her two daughters, two dogs, two cats and two lovebirds in Western PA. She formerly worked in nursing at the VA Medical Center in Butler. After she lost her husband to suicide, she chose to go back to college to study Psychology. She earned her B.S. in Psychology in 1990 and M.A. in Counseling Psychology in 1993. Dianne has worked as a therapist with adult and adolescent trauma clients and in addictions counseling. She has also taught General Psychology on the college level. She is an avid reader, enjoys photography, drawing and painting. She is also an avid animal lover who enjoys horseback riding.


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