A BRANCH OF WISDOM

- R E V I E W S -

This book is like no other. In the 1980s it is said that not a single while South African family was unaffected by the Angolan war. After an horrific stint in Angola as a national serviceman, the incipient split within Christopher cracked open into full-blown paranoid schizophrenia. He spent months in One Military Hospital, Pretoria, where he was kept powerfully sedated and subjected to shock treatment. He was sent home with the diagnosis that he would never integrate back into society. Fifteen years later, Christopher was running a highly successful investment company in Durban with all the trappings of wealth, including beautiful Kate. Into this idyll breaks a disturbing recurring dream of a man pursuing him with a forked twig. This twig - or branch - would become the symbol of his search for wisdom and integration. He discovers that the rupture within himself is a division that exists in all of us - so graphically demonstrated by apartheid and the symbol of the Berlin Wall. He begins by exploring the deeper and the double meanings the words he used in his psychotic state. He discovers that words, metaphors, myths and synchronistic occurrences are pieces of the puzzle for which he must find the key. The guide and goad on this inner quest is his own unconscious self. It s an intelligent, elegant count of a man's journey into the Underworld to retrieve his soul and belongs on the shelves of all those who counsel and care for mentally ill. Gavin lvey (PhD), senior lecturer of the Department of Psychology at Wits, gives it a glowing review: "Christopher's detailed account of his psychotic breakdown - and recovery - is a fascinating account of a disordered mind. However, it is the use to which he later puts his disordered thoughts and images in the quest to heal both himself, and the rupture of our general everyday experience, that makes Christopher's story admirable and intellectually stimulating. His insights are hard-won psychological achievements." A Branch of Wisdom is also an intriguing read for those who love words. I could not put it down.

- Odyssey Magazine April 2003