A psychological thriller to read absolutely

A psychological thriller that really scared me

I usually never read psychological thrillers or even normal thrillers. I am too sensitive to that kind of book. They scare me and make me feel paranoid and anxious. However, I ended up buying this psychological thriller on my Kindle. Two reasons led me to this: the critics were very good (15,000 excellent critics on Amazon!) and the psychological dimension to the book. While reading the book, I got scared, really scared. I was a few times close to a panic attack. However, if you are used to that kind of book, it may not be your case. I must confess that my tolerance level for anything that is scary is very low.

  • When I was a kid, I cried while watching Maya the Bee on television as someone hurt Maya. I never watched this cartoon ever again.
  • A few years later, I came very close to a panic attack while watching an episode of Columbo as – I am sure everyone will agree with me here – detective movies are terrifying.
  • I never went further than the first episode of Game of Thrones as the level of violence traumatized me.

What psychological thriller am I talking about?

The Silent Patient is a thriller written by Alex Michaelides.

I finished the book within 3 days.


My recommendations before reading the book

If, like me, you dislike everything that is scary, you may want to follow my below recommendations before reading the book.

  • Never read it in the evening before going to bed
  • When the weather is stormy, wait for the storm to be over before opening the book
  • This one is obvious: do not read it when you are alone at home
  • If your house is dark, switch on all the lights (just in case)

I was so curious to finish the story that I did not fully comply with the third recommendation. I finished the book without my husband being at home.

Hence, I paid the price for it: the following night I had insomnia and I was checking all suspicious shadows in the bedroom.

The Silent Patient – What is this thriller about?

Alicia is a painter in her 30s who lives in London with her husband. One day, her husband comes back from the office and she shoots him with 5 bullets in the face and never speaks again. She is locked down in a psychiatric hospital and remains silent for many years.

Theo is a psychotherapist determined to help Alicia. He manages to be hired in the hospital where Alicia stays. His motivation to help her is so strong that he breaches his code of ethics several times.

Throughout the thriller, we get to know different characters and their personal stories. This led me to conduct my own Cluedo investigation in my head. No doubt that Colonel Mustard did it with the candlestick in the kitchen…  

The thriller outcome was completely unexpected to me and left me speechless!

Why I liked this psychological thriller

The story outcome made me reflect on human psychology

I realized some of the worst scenarios that can happen during adulthood when childhood traumas are not properly handled. Random events can trigger these unhealed traumas and lead to committing destructive acts toward oneself and others.

Choosing psychology as a career is never a random decision  

In this book, Theo, the psychotherapist, explains why psychologists are all a bit “crazy and broken” people.

I share this opinion. No mental health professional chooses such a career randomly. We all have our own wounds that make us sensitive to specific human issues.

This book reminded me that there are two ways to make use of the traumas that life inflicts upon us:

  • To learn the lessons from them and use them to do good, be a good shrink (or just a better person)
  • To remain under control of these traumas and let them destroy us and others

Alex Michaelides’ writing style is powerful

I found some powerful sentences in this book that I could relate to. I could see myself and some of my personal life lessons written in this book.

Now that I have finished the book, I wonder if I should be worried that I identified myself so much with some characters…

The face of a shrink if I told him I can relate to the story of the characters

Some powerful quotes from the book

Quotes about love

“…we often mistake love for fireworks – for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm – and constant.”

“Remember, love that doesn’t include honesty doesn’t deserve to be called love.”

“Choosing a lover is a lot like choosing a therapist. We need to ask ourselves, is this someone who will be honest with me, listen to criticism, admit making mistakes, and not promise the impossible?”

Quotes about emotions and childhood

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later, in uglier ways.” —SIGMUND FREUD

“You know, one of the hardest things to admit is that we weren’t loved when we needed it most. It’s a terrible feeling, the pain of not being loved.”

“No one is born evil. As Winnicott put it, “A baby cannot hate the mother, without the mother first hating the baby.”

“The aim of therapy is not to correct the past, but to enable the patient to confront his own history, and to grieve over it. “—ALICE MILLER

Quotes about mental illness

“We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”

“There’s so much pain everywhere, and we just close our eyes to it. The truth is we’re all scared. We’re terrified of each other.”

“We are made up of different parts, some good, some bad, and a healthy mind can tolerate this ambivalence and juggle both good and bad at the same time. Mental illness is precisely about a lack of this kind of integration – we end up losing contact with the unacceptable parts of ourselves.”

“I believe the same is true for most people who go into mental health. We are drawn to this profession because we are damaged – we study psychology to heal ourselves. Whether we are prepared to admit this or not is another question.”

Quotes about life

“Trust, once lost, is hard to recover.”

“I didn’t want to die. Not yet; not when I hadn’t lived.”

On these very positive and joyful notes, I wish you happy reading! It is time for me to destress with a yoga practice to relax and unwind 😉

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  • Emma

    Je ne connaissais pas du tout ce livre, et ça donne envie. Je viens de l’ajouter à ma liste de livres à lire sur goodreads (il y est très bien noté d’ailleurs).
    Merci pour la recommandation!

    C’est marrant, je viens de lire le mémoire d’un avocat américain qui consacre sa vie à aider des personnes qui ont subi des injustices, et il dit aussi qu’il le fait parce qu’il est “brisé” lui-même. C’est un peu le “silver lining” de nos blessures : la capacité à aider les autres en conséquence (enfin, quand on choisit cette voie, et pas celle de la destruction de soi et des autres, comme tu le soulignes).

    • Laurine Arnould

      Merci Emma <3 Tu me diras si tu as aimé le livre !
      Comment s'appelle le livre de l'avocat américain auquel tu fais référence ? Je vais y jeter un œil 🙂

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