The Silent Patient
Alex Michaelides
Contributed by Carey Speaks

Author’s Biography

Alex Michaelides was born in the year 1977 in Cyprus. He was born to an English mother and a Greek-Cypriot father. It was at Cambridge University that he studied English Literature. Later, he obtained his Master of Arts in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. His remarkable educational background is evident in the great works he has produced in his career. These include scripts and films such as “The Devil You Know” that he wrote in 2013, starring Rosamund Pike. He also co-wrote the film “The Con is On” in 2018 starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. “The Silent Patient” is the first novel that he wrote and published while he worked at a psychiatric unit for two years. It is a fictitious novel that has earned him an accolade of support from his audience (Wright, 2018)f. The fact that he has received this much support for his first book proves that “The Silent Patient” is quite a prolific novel.

Historical and Current Context

Just as literature is a reflection of today’s society, “The Silent Patient” succeeds in outlining some of today’s perspectives through the ideologies and contexts that are presented by the author. Firstly, the book is written in 2018 in a contextual setting that represents climatic changes taking place at the time. In the second part of the novel, the author describes how the protagonist, Alicia, suffers through a heat wave, “I never thought I’d be longing for rain. We’re into our fourth week of the heat wave, and it feels like an endurance test. Each day seems hotter than the last. It doesn’t feel like England” (Michaelides, 53). According to a BBC report, the months of June and July were highlighted by an intense heatwave of soaring temperatures across much of the United Kingdom (“Heatwave: 2018 was the Joint Hottest Summer for UK”). The novel setting, thus, serves to help the audience understand the author’s narrative, since they can relate to the background of the setting in the novel.

The context of the book also addresses mental health in our society. By working in a psychiatric unit, the author was able to derive the plot for his novel from his experience with mental health patients. Similarly, the narration of the book is set in a psychiatric hospital, the Grove. The plot of narration is based on the unstable mental conditions of the characters, where both Alicia and Theo suffer mental illness in the novel. The description of the character’s struggle with their mental disorders represents the acute number of cases of mental illnesses, such as depression, that are present at the time when the book is written. Ritchie and Roser (2018) present the high prevalence of mental disorders in their research during this period, where over 270 million people have been reported to have experienced a form of mental breakdown by 2017. The novel not only highlights the effects of mental illness, but also outlines the treatment of mental disorders through medication and therapy. Again, this is represented by the characters of Alicia and Theo, who both undergo therapy to deal with their mental illnesses. The novel also highlights how the patients at the Grove were often sedated. All in all, the author seeks to spark the conversation of mental health among his audience.

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