The Beginner's Guide to Sanity
By Erica Crompton and Stephen Lawrie
Published By

Hammersmith Books Limited

Fiction Genre Health, Mind/Body, Medical
Publication Date 09/01/2020
Price 5.99
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‘Psychosis’ literally means ‘out of touch with reality’. The main psychotic symptoms, delusions and hallucinations, can occur in many conditions, but especially bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In The Beginner’s Guide to Sanity, Erica Crompton, a journalist with a history of paranoid schizophrenia, and Professor Stephen Lawrie, an academic psychiatrist, share what they know about psychosis drawn from over 50 years’ combined experience. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed and are looking for relatable stories that will help you feel less alone, or are further into the course of your illness and wish to explore causes, diagnostics or why this might have happened to you, they discuss what they know about this complex illness and what we can all do about it. They look at what psychosis actually is and Erica draws on her experience of a first episode of the illness, before it turned into a full-blown schizophrenia diagnosis. She also details all the weird and wonderful techniques she’s tried to stay well and Stephen gives them a ‘sanity check’. Stephen looks at different diagnoses, causes, symptoms and illnesses that he’s seen in his clinic during his career as a psychiatrist. So, put the kettle on and lie back on the psychiatrist’s couch as Erica and Stephen start to relay all they know about psychosis… or, at least, everything they think you might want or need to know.

Authors Biography

Erica Crompton is a freelance journalist with a history of paranoid schizophrenia and over two decades experience of living with psychosis. She’s written about her life with this condition for The New York Times, The Lancet Psychiatry, The Mail on Sunday, The Guardian, The Independent, Happiful magazine and many more. Erica holds degrees in journalism and fine art. As well as writing about psychosis, Erica gives guest lectures across the UK about her life, including talks to NHS clinicians, lawyers and solicitors, and doctoral students in psychology. In her spare time Erica runs Hopezine, a small and inspiring magazine to give all people feeling low or suicidal hope for a brighter future.

Professor Stephen Lawrie is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh), the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Since 2014, he has been a Beltane Fellow for Public Engagement in Science. Until recently, Stephen was Head of Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, Director of the Scottish Mental Health Research Network and Director of the Medical Research Foundation and Medical Research Council-funded UK Clinical Research Training Fellowship programme for Mental Health (PsySTAR). As a practising clinician and clinically oriented researcher, Stephen is interested in clinical applications of brain imaging in psychosis, with a view towards objective diagnostic aids in psychosis and psychiatry, and in developing novel treatments that might enhance outcomes in patients with established psychoses and possibly even prevent the onset of psychosis in high risk populations.


“I am amazed how informative this little book is. It touches on everything, from different diagnoses and possible causes, to recoveries and treatments, and much more.” – Ziaul Choudhury, The Lancet Psychiatry

Leave a comment about this book:


  1. A fabulous insight into a world that we all need to understand

  2. This is a timely, rigorous and humane book. It emphasises the crucial voice of those with ‘lived experience’ of psychosis, as well as the importance of more traditional research. The authors, Erica and Stephen, have created something that will help many people feel less afraid and less alone.

  3. This book is an easy to read informative book about lived experience of psychosis. It’s going to be incredibly useful for many people going forward.

  4. Such a good read… Thank you Erica xx

  5. This is a great book. Informative, insightful, inspiring.

  6. Fantastic information, recommended read

  7. This is a most comforting book. Thank you!

  8. A fantastic, informative book, which has helped me enormously.

  9. A down to earth interesting publication..

  10. A wonderful little book that I as a fellow sufferer can really relate to.

  11. I have personally known Erica for many years when we first started out as poorly but ambitious retail copywriters churning out creative product content like conscientious factory workers. I remember her being shy and sweaty during team meetings – so to see her now blossoming into a passionate being who advocates for mental health support and understanding….speaking to 100s at a conference centre and now writing this thoughtful book has filled me with such pride and awe of how far she has come.

  12. I know that removing certain foods from one’s diet can help. Explore!

  13. I have personally known Erica since Art College and attended a Fashion Btec together then formed a solid friendship that has spand years. We have collaborated on a Fanzine called TaleCoat which was part of my community art work in Wales. Also, most recently after losing a relative to suicide, Erica invited me to write for Hopezine. This was key in my recovery from severe grief and low self esteem. I’d gone from helping others to actually needing help myself and Erica gave me a constructive and holisticly creative way to do so. Soon after she found an opportunity for me to write for the Metro and my faith in my writing and need to reach out and have a voice has grown. She unblocked my vocal chords and I’ve felt happier ever since. There is no better person to guide you to a place of peace. There is a misguided idea that people with an illness are needy only, no, this is not true!! They can change the world and change you too x

  14. What made you think about such a topic. Its funny I am not the only one that feels that way about it. Keep it up!

  15. Sick! Just obtained a brand-new Pearl and I can now read your blog on my phone’s browser, it didn’t do the job on my previous 1.

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