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Heavy Light Reviews

Heavy Light by Horatio Clare

Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing

Horatio Clare

4.83 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication date: 4 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9781784743529

Heavy Light is the story of a breakdown: a journey through mania, psychosis and treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and onwards to release, recovery and healing. After a lifetime of ups and downs, Horatio Clare was committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act. From hypomania in the Alps, to a complete breakdown and a locked ward in Wakefield, this is a gripping account of how the mind loses touch with reality, how we fall apart and how we can be healed - or not - by treatment.

4 stars out of 5
Stuart Kelly
16 Mar 2021

"Self-contradictory yet brilliantly written, Horatio Clare’s account of his mental breakdown, treatment and recovery is essential reading"

the heart of the book is sincere and the linguistic skill exemplary. I can’t think of a more astute way to begin the discussions about mental health that must begin than his analysis of how phrases like “I cracked up” or “I broke down” or “I lost it” can have very different meanings in different contexts. There is only a spectrum of psychological states. My mantra are my Dad’s words: “is it fixable?”


5 stars out of 5
13 Mar 2021

"In his memoir Heavy Light, Horatio Clare gives a gripping account of his 2019 descent into paranoid self-destruction"

He was scared and confused. But he also believed he was a secret agent following orders from MI6. Staging this bizarre crash was part of a mission to secure global peace. To achieve this noble goal, Clare believed his handlers had instructed him to post banknotes down drains and marry Kylie Minogue. Absurd, of course. The stuff of pre-teen make-believe. But readers of Clare’s game-changing memoir of “madness, mania and healing” will be struck by the fact that a mind so recently dominated by straight-to-DVD fantasies is now capable of reflecting on them with so much gentle wisdom and acute self-awareness. And in such beautiful, witty prose.

5 stars out of 5
7 Mar 2021

"what a gift to the rest of us — having such an articulate agent, reporting back from the far edges of the mind"

The book changes tone as Clare retraces the steps of his breakdown, meeting the police officers, social workers and nurses who helped him. He interviews specialist researchers, most of whom are sceptical of the long-term benefits of medication. “The very names of the pills make them sound official, effective, unarguable,” Clare writes. Yet “much of it turns out to be guesswork”. He makes the case for “therapies involving nature, exercise, mindfulness, art, creativity and horticulture, [and] conversations with therapists”.