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Old 15th-December-2009, 12:43 AM   #1
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Default Disturbing Books

I recently stumbled on this site blogging about the 10 most disturbing books of all time. I don't know about you but I actually look forward to reading some of them when summer comes around. Though I'm not really interested in the violence and gore aspect (and reading the comments there are quite a few sick-to-your-stomach scenes in the top 5), I'm just curious where will my mind take me when presented with the situations the authors described in the books.

For example the very first book he presented, Blindness, seemed really interesting. I can't explain my fascination with wide-spread catastrophes, all I know is they provide me with great thinking material for days.

Anybody know what I'm trying to say here? I want suggestions for more books like the ones on that list, but not because they all make you loose hope in humanity, but because they prick at the thin membrane that separates sanity and depravity and makes you think about the limitless possibilities of the human brain.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 01:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

BLEH! free time is such a precious commodity, why waste it on such depressing narratives? Particularly, because, none of which are particularly surreal...

I still have "The Little Prince" on my list of "Most Disturbing Books" I have read, I do not plan on bumping it off any time soon...

The border between sanity and depravity is not a good place to relax...

EDIT; but to each their own, sorry, I did not mean to seem to discount you, Ran
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Old 15th-December-2009, 01:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Since Requiem for a Dream was already on this top 10 list, I would add The Room by Hubert Selby and The Demon by Hubert Selby.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 01:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Da Blob View Post
BLEH! free time is such a precious commodity, why waste it on such depressing narratives? Particularly, because, none of which are particularly surreal...

I still have "The Little Prince" on my list of "Most Disturbing Books" I have read, I do not plan on bumping it off any time soon...

The border between sanity and depravity is not a good place to relax...
I see your point, and I guess I might come off as a bit of a psychopath for asking for these things, but actually I never really get depressed when reading (or watching) these things. I feel more like I'm reading my biology textbook. My emotions are not stirred. I just find it curious and bizarre.

You know those sudoku puzzles that people like to do to kill time? I like to solve curious human actions that seem illogical with logic. And just as people get better over time and move on to harder puzzles with less numbers, I got bored sifting through normal human behavior since the answer is so obvious to me. So I move on to things where theres less logic and more insanity. My ultimate answer is probably the wrong one, I might be making huge mistakes in trying to solve everything with logic, but I just need some material for my logic monster to chew. For those days where I'm sitting in the back sit of the family van driving to dinner, looking outside with nothing to do, I just might fish up something from these books and nibble a little to occupy myself.


...I admit I'll probably never get the courage to read some of the books lower on that list. The violence and gore just overshadows everything and I probably can't think straight.

BTW Thank you Madoness for the suggestions.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 03:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Da Blob View Post
BLEH! free time is such a precious commodity, why waste it on such depressing narratives? Particularly, because, none of which are particularly surreal...

I still have "The Little Prince" on my list of "Most Disturbing Books" I have read, I do not plan on bumping it off any time soon...

The border between sanity and depravity is not a good place to relax...

EDIT; but to each their own, sorry, I did not mean to seem to discount you, Ran
I agree there are some places we should not go, but are you the type of person who doesn't want to listen to the beauty of Jeff Buckley or Radiohead because it's "too depressing"? I think you miss out on a lot with that attitude, partly why I am not so anti-negativity as pop culture would like me to be. I despise depravity too, but I love sadness - in moderation.

Also, this from The Prophet:

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 04:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

The only book I have read on that list is American Psycho. That has to be the most disturbing book I have ever read. Some parts are simply disgusting. A lot of it is the gore described, but some of it is the fact that this character has some screwed up issues and views. It is a portrait of a man missing his identity in the culture of the 80's . You feel sorry for him, yet you also find him revolting. Overall I would recommend it (much better than the movie, the murders seem much darker in the book. But then... I don't they would allow what was in the book to be shown in the movie for good reason, the mental images were scaring enough).

I have always wanted to read Naked Lunch but have never got around to it. I read a bit of one of his other works, Junkie. The parts I read were, while not disturbing on the level of American Psycho, brutally dark and honest. I remember its style being very good, but its been a few years so I can't be sure.

When I saw the title of this thread I thought of one book (besides American Psycho):
Quote:
Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sana, in Yemen, who is said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa 700 A.D. He visited the ruins of Babylon and the subterranean secrets of Memphis and spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia -- the Roba el Khaliyeh or "Empty Space" of the ancients -- and "Dahna" or "Crimson" desert of the modern Arabs, which is held to be inhabited by protective evil spirits and monsters of death. Of this desert many strange and unbelievable marvels are told by those who pretend to have penetrated it. In his last years Alhazred dwelt in Damascus, where the Necronomicon (Al Azif) was written, and of his final death or disappearance (738 A.D.) many terrible and conflicting things are told. He is said by Ebn Khallikan (12th cent. biographer) to have been seized by an invisible monster in broad daylight and devoured horribly before a large number of fright-frozen witnesses. Of his madness many things are told. He claimed to have seen fabulous Irem, or City of Pillars, and to have found beneath the ruins of a certain nameless desert town the shocking annals and secrets of a race older than mankind. He was only an indifferent Moslem, worshipping unknown entities whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu.
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Histor...e_Necronomicon

Since that book doesn't exist, the next best thing is Lovecraft's work. The stories I have read and liked so far are The Call of Cthulhu and The Shadow Over Innsmouth (the latter is a bit racist though).
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Old 15th-December-2009, 05:19 AM   #7
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I'm all into things that are disturbing, strange, and overall dark and esoteric, so thanks for posting the link!
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Old 15th-December-2009, 05:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ran View Post
I see your point, and I guess I might come off as a bit of a psychopath for asking for these things, but actually I never really get depressed when reading (or watching) these things. I feel more like I'm reading my biology textbook. My emotions are not stirred. I just find it curious and bizarre.

You know those sudoku puzzles that people like to do to kill time? I like to solve curious human actions that seem illogical with logic. And just as people get better over time and move on to harder puzzles with less numbers, I got bored sifting through normal human behavior since the answer is so obvious to me. So I move on to things where theres less logic and more insanity. My ultimate answer is probably the wrong one, I might be making huge mistakes in trying to solve everything with logic, but I just need some material for my logic monster to chew. For those days where I'm sitting in the back sit of the family van driving to dinner, looking outside with nothing to do, I just might fish up something from these books and nibble a little to occupy myself.


...I admit I'll probably never get the courage to read some of the books lower on that list. The violence and gore just overshadows everything and I probably can't think straight.

BTW Thank you Madoness for the suggestions.
I think the thing that is the root of "disturbance" for "Us", sane people is the fact that some people do such horrible things solely because it 'feels' good to do them. As a counselor, I have had to follow some really twisted narratives involving Sadomasochistic tales and to be honest I am not comfortable with that type of client. Some actually relish the telling of the tales. If I had not been dealing with individuals incarcerated for the crimes described, I would have had to write the tales off as dark fantasy the product of a twisted imagination. Twisted seems to be such the right word used to describe such individuals and their sadistic actions.

I can understand why someone might want to voluntarily indulge in investigations of despair, depravity, depression and sadness, there is morbid curiosity, but for some of us, we have had enough real experiences with such that there is no entertainment value associated with any of it...
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Old 15th-December-2009, 06:46 AM   #9
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Ok this is something I want to add quickly. I don't think I was clear in the beginning, but after reading a few reviews about the 120 Days of Sodom, I want to draw the line at depravity for own pleasure. (This didn't have anything with your post, Da Blob. I was mortified by the descriptions and decided to come post here before I saw it.)

I don't like it when the author writes about terrible things a person inflicts on another whom they have FULL CONTROL. The act of raping of little boys and girls is just too extreme for me to ponder over. I don't think I'll ever find ANY logical explanation I'm comfortable with down that road. That way madness lies.
I'm still on the shallow side of the pool here, and really if the book gets too physical I just can't see past it into the psychological. I'm more interested in...let's say... Lord of the Flies type of books. And like I've said that book Blindness seemed more like what I'm looking for.

Also, Da Blob, while I agree that a large part of this is indeed morbid curiosity, I'm offended that you think it's "entertaining" for me to read about people committing acts of terrible deprivation. I don't consider myself a bad person for wanting to know more about the dark side of the human mind. I won't, and will never, be entertained by what I see there.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 07:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I have never read any of the books written there - but, the ending of the book I wrote was, I guess, graphic enough to make someone that read it cry...

Some other books that some people may find disturbing might be just about anything written by Chuck Palahniuk.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 09:45 AM   #11
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I think it is very normal for many younger people to be preoccupied with the morbid and dark things, so don't worry, Ran. I was severely traumatised after reading American Psycho (also mentioned before in thread), by Brett Easton Ellis (I think). The worst experience was, however, when I accidentally came across a book in my parent's bookshelf when I was about ten. It was called Prisoner of Night and Fog, and it was an autobiographical account (with pictures) of a prisoner's experiences in Auswitch. It disturbed me deeply, and I had terrible dreams and images that haunted me for ages.

My younger sister was always preoccupied with the morbid, but I have moved away from that kind of literature, as I just find it too upsetting and sometimes even irritating now. There is one book which is quite good, and that is Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. You may have read it already, though.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 05:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I've read Johnny Got His Gun after watching the Metallica's music video. The book is very chilling, one that I will never forgot about.

Like Agent Intellect mentioned, most of Chuck Palahniuk's books are pretty disturbing. One book, titled "Haunted," is basically a collection of disturbing stories told by characters in the story, who are all aspiring writers. Even though its a work of fiction, Palahniuk has said that most it are based on true stories hes heard from meeting people over the years.
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Old 15th-December-2009, 05:33 PM   #13
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Sorry, I meant that to be a self-reflective statement about entertainment and not directed at others. It is a mystery to me, why so much graphic violence is portrayed on the "Big screen" rather than books so much. I mean one indulges in entertaining media to escape reality not to be reminded of it (yes?). Perhaps it is because some would rather believe that man's inhumanity to man is fiction rather than fact....
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Old 16th-December-2009, 12:56 AM   #14
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

violence in entertainment is nothing new - roman spectacles went beyond what most of us watch and read these days. but romans were no more bloodthirsty or cruel than we are. to them, munera and the like taught them virtus, the values of courage, discipline, endurance etc.

in a similar way, the more disturbing a film or book is in the portrayal of death, violence or madness the more it makes me appreciate the relative peace and sanity of my own life. and there is also the very real benefit of catharsis, the purging of psychological ills.
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Old 16th-December-2009, 01:33 AM   #15
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Haven't read any of those-- I'll look through the descriptions again some time (and keep an eye on this thread) and try to find some of them. The most disturbing book I have ever read is probably 1984-- the idea of not just influencing, but fundamentally changing the way that individuals, communities and even an entire nation thinks made something deep inside my mind and essential Self squirm in horror. The only book I have ever had to put down and walk away from was Maus.
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Old 16th-December-2009, 01:34 AM   #16
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Thank you everyone for the suggestions.

@Polaris: Do you know the author of that book? I've read Night by Elie Wiesel in middle school, it seems that might be it but I'm not sure..?

@Da Blob: I also apologize for my outburst. My logical mind was yelling "there's no way he intentionally meant you" but I was still very edgy from seeing some scenes and reading some passages from 120 Days of Sodom. I guess I do get emotionally stirred up after all.

@merzbau: I've never thought of it that way... I've always assumed that because my life is so peaceful and removed from these horrors, I can stand back and observe without getting too disturbed. That plus my INTPness I sometimes doubt my humanity when I fail to react to some horrific scenes. But I guess there's always that lingering thought of "Wow, I guess I've got it good compared to others. I should cherish this and stop whining."

Quote:
and there is also the very real benefit of catharsis, the purging of psychological ills.
I've experienced this too, thanks for bring it up


EDIT:
Sagewolf: Yeah Maus is something. I had to read it for an English class so I guess that smoothed it over a little. My first time critically analyzing pictures though.

I guess I should also provide some titles as well. I didn't know other people would be interested.

Aside from the books people already mentioned, Beloved by Toni Morrison, the good old Frankenstein, and Brave New World (if you liked 1984).

But the ONLY book that has ever made me afraid to go to sleep at night is actually a short story by Orson Scott Card in his earlier years, "Eumenides In The Fourth Floor Lavatory." It's apart of a collection of short stories in Maps in a Mirror. I was actually shaking by the time I finished the story, afraid to blink or look around least I see movement in my peripheral vision. I never read anything else from that book since that was the first story.
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Old 16th-December-2009, 04:21 AM   #17
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

one thing that isn't on that list is hunger by Knut Hamsun - check it out, it's a good one.
most of kafka's works are pretty disturbing, in the metamorphosis, he describes a young man's transformation into a huge ugly beetle.

probably the most polarizing and provocative author i've ever stumbled across is peter sotos. his work is sometimes repulsive, but he's clever like de sade, sweetening the disgust with intellectual and philosophical ramblings that force you to take it seriously and not immediately dismiss it.
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Old 16th-December-2009, 04:42 AM   #18
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by merzbau View Post
one thing that isn't on that list is hunger by Knut Hamsun - check it out, it's a good one.
most of kafka's works are pretty disturbing, in the metamorphosis, he describes a young man's transformation into a huge ugly beetle.

probably the most polarizing and provocative author i've ever stumbled across is peter sotos. his work is sometimes repulsive, but he's clever like de sade, sweetening the disgust with intellectual and philosophical ramblings that force you to take it seriously and not immediately dismiss it.
I would like to differentiate disturbing and Kafka, a lot.... Kafka is not disturbing, it's different, they are not exactly on the same category.... as with Kafka, there's imagination involved, therefore not being really disturbing because one could imagine it being imaginative, disturbing involves being too real therefore being disturbing. If you had The Metamorphosis in mind... then.... we all do see weird dreams every now and then and dreams could be somewhat the same.... it does not make us disturbing when we are awake because there is a difference.
Kafka is a fun read.... but too unreal to be disturbing. Imaginative enough with being similar to our dreams.


Though.... I've not read all his books.
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Old 16th-December-2009, 04:52 AM   #19
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I don't know if you are able to get hold of an English translation of this book, Ran. The original title is Fange i Natt og Tke, by Trygve Bratteli (He later became the PM of Norway twice).

There is a similar book by an author called Floris B. Bakels, called Nacht und Nebel, here's a link:

http://www.shoaheducation.com/fog.html
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Old 16th-December-2009, 05:15 AM   #20
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madoness View Post
I would like to differentiate disturbing and Kafka, a lot.... Kafka is not disturbing, it's different, they are not exactly on the same category.... as with Kafka, there's imagination involved, therefore not being really disturbing because one could imagine it being imaginative, disturbing involves being too real therefore being disturbing. If you had The Metamorphosis in mind... then.... we all do see weird dreams every now and then and dreams could be somewhat the same.... it does not make us disturbing when we are awake because there is a difference.
Kafka is a fun read.... but too unreal to be disturbing. Imaginative enough with being similar to our dreams.


Though.... I've not read all his books.

um, okay... just take a few deep breaths, and let them out slowly.
i like kafka too. it's just my opinion.
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Old 16th-December-2009, 08:02 AM   #21
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I actually think Kafka's works sound interesting. I guess I used too narrow a word to describe what I wanted. I only have myself to blame since I <i>thought</i> I wanted really disturbing horrific novels. But some books might not be disturbing but can nevertheless simulate thought. I'm open to suggestions all across the spectrum: anything from mellow to hardcore is fine.
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Old 16th-December-2009, 08:17 AM   #22
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I found another list on a different site: http://listverse.com/2008/09/29/top-...urbing-novels/

It lists Haunted as number one. And reading the description under it, I can see why. Thank you ktp.

American Psycho is yet again listed. Also there's a different book by de Sade, and I don't think I want to touch his works :(
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Old 16th-December-2009, 08:43 AM   #23
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Haunted is definitely a top 5 for me.

"House of Leaves" was also terrifying. It's a romance, satire, horror novel. And it blends the three so beautifully...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Leaves
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Old 8th-January-2010, 04:16 AM   #24
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I think it is very normal for many younger people to be preoccupied with the morbid and dark things, so don't worry, Ran. I was severely traumatised after reading American Psycho (also mentioned before in thread), by Brett Easton Ellis (I think). The worst experience was, however, when I accidentally came across a book in my parent's bookshelf when I was about ten. It was called Prisoner of Night and Fog, and it was an autobiographical account (with pictures) of a prisoner's experiences in Auswitch. It disturbed me deeply, and I had terrible dreams and images that haunted me for ages.

My younger sister was always preoccupied with the morbid, but I have moved away from that kind of literature, as I just find it too upsetting and sometimes even irritating now. There is one book which is quite good, and that is Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. You may have read it already, though.
I know the experiences you have.

The movie 'Carriers' deeply disturbed me, along with the movie 'SAW' and 'The Pentacount'


After losing sleep for weeks on end, I completely stopped watching these movies.
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Old 8th-January-2010, 04:29 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverse Transcriptase;
"House of Leaves" was also terrifying. It's a romance, satire, horror novel. And it blends the three so beautifully...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Leaves
reading this currently. it certainly is... intriguing to open to a random page and see what you will find.

etc...
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Old 19th-January-2010, 02:14 PM   #26
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

I'm more disturbed by non-fiction, than fiction, mostly.
So Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, with it's descriptions of the napalm bombings during WWII, was a little disturbing.

But more over, I'm truly disturbed by fanatic Religious assertions and general stupidity, especially whenever they manage to trickle into the newspapers.
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Old 19th-January-2010, 02:43 PM   #27
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

House of Leaves is one of my favorite books-- did you see it mentioned over at that site, Glove?

In the Miso Soup disturbed me far more, though.

Neither of those-- and nothing on the linked list-- compares to the esoteric literature I've read which tries to convince readers, while claiming to be helping them, to commit psychological suicide. Or the literature of the same type that I've written.

Stockholm syndrome can do terrible things to people. Realising that that you're playing a game set up to kill you, and realising that the other players don't understand that, can send you into a cannibalistic frenzy. That's the point, though:

That kind of frenzy elicits rare insight. And some people are prepared to kill 99 for the sake of eliciting that rare insight in 1.

Warning: this is a metareply.
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Old 19th-January-2010, 03:15 PM   #28
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Er, yes actually. The enthusiasm expressed for it caused me to look for it in my local bookstore. I started skimming through it and went, "wtf is this???"
So I bought it.

And now to go... touch up... on esoteric literature.
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Old 20th-January-2010, 11:04 AM   #29
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

One could always try the book of revelations.
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Old 20th-January-2010, 11:07 AM   #30
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
One could always try the book of revelations.


Actually any 'holy' book would qualify...
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Old 20th-January-2010, 11:29 AM   #31
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

lol.....I was going to say that, but the diplomat whispered in my ear....
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Old 9th-March-2010, 12:43 PM   #32
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Default Re: Disturbing Books

A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

Nightmare Memoirs by Claude Letulle

Both are memoirs of abuse, torture, and neglect. The former by his mother, the latter by Nazis.
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