Schizo Summary & Study Guide

Nic Sheff
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Schizo Summary & Study Guide Description

Schizo Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Schizo, a novel by Nic Sheff, revolves around Miles Cole, a 16-year-old man who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. After a major breakdown in the public restroom at the beach a year ago, he has fought the emotional and mental demons that have plagued him daily and lead him to believe that the kidnapping of his brother, Teddy Bryant Cole, was his fault.

He remembers that fateful day as being happy until the episode in the restroom. He and Teddy were in the water at the beach. His parents Audrey and Sam were on the beach with his younger sister, Janey. Miles went to the restroom and had a breakdown that attracted the attention of many beach-goers, particularly his parents, which led them to run to his aid. When he woke in the hospital his parents were very distraught. He found out that Teddy was missing and the suspicion was kidnapping. The police had no luck finding his captor or any solid leads to prove a kidnapping so eventually they put it in the category of a drowning.

Once home, Miles goes back to school and tries to resume a normal life, but realistically, what is normal for him? A tension exists in his home as if he and his parents must walk on eggshells around each other. Before the incident, Miles shared a love of movies with his mother and a love of jazz vinyl albums with his father. Now, although they still have the same common hobbies, they act strained around each other. Audrey, Miles's mother, is often stressed out and upset. She rarely eats dinner with the family, but takes a pill and goes to bed in the evenings. Sam, Miles's father, tries to act like nothing has happened. He acts cheery and pretends that the atmosphere at home is the same as it always was. He doesn’t want to do or say anything that will upset Miles. Janey absolutely enjoys her time with her brother. She is the one who acts the most normal around him.

Miles only has a few true friends. He has been friends with Preston, a rich kid, since he was ten years old. Although they are from different sides of the tracks, so to speak, Miles had ended up at Preston’s school, Stanyon Hills, when Miles’ mom got a job in the library there, and they allowed her to bring her son with her. Preston pretty much treats Miles as if nothing has ever changed in either of their lives. The other of his two best friends is Preston’s girlfriend, Jackie. She is very tender with him and incredibly aware of Miles’ well-being, his emotional state, and the physical burdens that come with schizophrenia.

Eliza Lindberg was another of Miles’ best friends when they were in the seventh and eighth grades. Her parents are also rich, like Preston’s. Her dad’s a famous chef who moved his family to New Orleans because of his career. Miles had not seen her since the end of the eighth grade and her move, but she and her mother have just returned to California because her dad left them for a female chef with whom he worked.

Miles had a huge crush on Eliza when she lived there before and had awkwardly asked her to be his girlfriend before she moved. It did not go as planned leaving Miles feeling embarrassed. That’s the last time he saw Eliza before she moved. Now, she’s back, and although he is glad to have the opportunity to see her again, he is worried that the embarrassing moment in the past will make for an uncomfortable reunion. He and Eliza have a rocky initial meeting, but go on to find that they are attracted to one another.

Although Miles really likes her and wants to be with her, he has come up with a plan that he feels will solve the problems and the guilt he has at home. Miles, who does not believe that Teddy drowned, and feels that he is the only one who hasn’t given up on finding him, plans to pick up where the police left off: find Teddy, and bring happiness and normalcy back to his family. After that, he will have time to enjoy friends, girls, and teenage endeavors.

Miles slyly begins his search for Teddy. He interviews the reported witness to Teddy’s kidnapping, Dolly Peterson, after which he visits the police station and is able to obtain the list of potential suspects and their addresses from the police file. During a field trip to the same beach of Teddy’s disappearance, which also happens to be near the home of the primary suspect at the time of the crime, Miles breaks away from the class and tries to find the suspect. Miles is sure that this man, Simon Tolliver, is holding Teddy in his home. After learning that Tolliver has moved, Miles concocts a scheme to find Tolliver’s new home where he is sure Teddy is being held. Although Tolliver does have a young boy at his home, it is his own child who is very ill. Tolliver gives Miles a ride back to town.

Instead of going home, Miles goes to Eliza’s house where he is having his always present, but building hallucination of black crows watching him. This time, instead of the crows congregating outside only, he sees them in Eliza’s house and even more in her bedroom. He believes they are attacking her, so he attacks them trying to save Eliza. When the lights come on, he finds that there are no crows, just Eliza and another boy on her bed having sex. Distraught, Miles returns home, climbs into the bathtub, and slices his wrists. Before he loses consciousness, he calls 911 to report his suicide and to let the police know exactly where to find him so that neither Janey, nor their parents, finds him in that condition.

To his disappointed surprise, Miles awakes in a hospital with his arms stitched and bandaged. He is assigned to the psych ward under the care of the resident specialist, Dr. Dubonis. Audrey and Sam Cole are beyond worried about these new circumstances. It’s almost a relief to them that now that they know he will live, they know he will be safe in the hospital under the doctor’s care.

While in the hospital, Miles finds himself in group therapy where the acronym H.A.L.T., which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. The addicts are taught that mantra to keep their mental clarity or to avoid the risk of a mental relapse, these basic needs must be met. During his stay in the psych ward, his regular psychiatrist, Dr. S. Frankel, comes to visit him. Miles decides to finally divulge to the doctor something he hasn’t told anyone since his whole scheme began, that he was trying to find his brother Teddy and put his family back together. First, he explains to Dr. Frankel that he flushed his many prescriptions down the toilet, hasn’t had his meds, and his delusions and problems have returned worse than before; the crows, the unexplained voice in his head telling him what to do, his problems with Eliza, and most disturbing, his acceptance of Teddy’s death.

Dr. Frankel assures him that he is not to blame and asks about the boy, Teddy, that he speaks of. He remembers Miles discussing him in previous sessions. Dr. Frankel explains to Miles that he does not and has never had a brother. There was a young boy named Teddy Bryant who had been kidnapped from the same beach a week before Miles’ breakdown. During that confusing time for Miles, the kidnapping case was prominent news everywhere. As a coping mechanism, Miles felt so guilty about the burden he placed on his family because of his breakdown that his subconscious took ungraspable guilty feelings of something out of his control and turned it into the real guilt that he had a brother named Teddy, that he had been the reason behind Teddy’s kidnapping because everyone was taking care of Miles, and he had ruined his parents lives, making them worried and strained all the time. The truth of this delusion was beyond comprehension for Miles.

Coming to the realization that Teddy was not his brother and that not taking his meds had brought on extreme delusions due to his disease, Miles was able to be stabilized on his meds, own his actions, and understand what needs to be done to get his schizophrenia under control. He becomes stronger in the psych ward thanks to the doctors, the new meds, and the help of the friends he makes in his group sessions.

Before going home, Miles has to come clean with his parents. With the help of Dr. Frankel, Miles tells his parents all of the things that landed him in the psych ward this time. During his fall into this delusional existence, he had not told his parents about flushing his meds, about his hallucinations, about what happened with Eliza, and most importantly, about the fact that he believed all this time that Teddy Bryant was his brother and that he tried to find their lost (but not real) son. His parents are shocked by these revelations. As a family, they all cry and came to accept how this disease has toyed with their lives for over a year. Now that the truth is out, they feel confident that Miles can come home on his new stabilizing meds, visit his doctor regularly, and face the world with new hope and confidence that, although he will never be cured, he definitely can control his life.

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