Book Review

Captive – Madeline Dyer

Happy publication day to Madeline Dyer! The ebook of her first book of poetry, Captive, is released today. I was lucky enough to be given an early copy by Madeline, so read on for all the details and my thoughts on the book.


I just want to get better and see the stars and believe in hope again.’

Captive, Madeline Dyer’s first poetry collection, is based on the therapy writings she produced when she was experiencing psychosis and OCD due to Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, a rare type of brain inflammation caused by the immune system attacking the brain. While her communication skills and cognitive abilities diminished due to the effects of the inflammation, she was able to share her thoughts and emotions via the written word, process that gave her great comfort when she otherwise felt possessed.

Captive provides readers with a glimpse of her tormented mind during this dark time of loneliness, loss, and fear.



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I have long been a fan of Madeline’s fiction writing, and so I subscribe to all of her social media accounts. As such I am familiar with her struggles to a certain extent, and have been following her progress through her Medium page. I know how hard 2019 was for her, but even so, reading these poems was completely and utterly heartbreaking and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried through most of them.

It is incredibly brave of Madeline to open herself up to the world in sharing these intimate thoughts with the world in order to give people an insight into what it feels like to live with PANS. The raw pain that runs throughout the writing is almost palpable and really opened my eyes to what it must truly be like to live with OCD.

Whilst I was touched by the almost brutal frankness of all of the poems, I found “Things People Say” and “Psycho particularly upsetting – as a chronic illness sufferer myself I know how hard it is for people to understand, and how cruel their words can be sometimes, so this really touched a nerve with me.

“Don’t” hit home for me, as the son of my dearest friend struggles with OCD. People use the phrase so flippantly but they have no idea what it is truly like for sufferers. I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but now having experience of people who are fighting a constant battle, I can understand, to a certain extent, just how hurtful this can be.

A final mention has to go to “An Apology to the Ponies.” As I said earlier, I cried my way through most of this book, but this poem had me sobbing. Even thinking back to it now as I type this review brings a tear to my eye.

Captive feels like such an important book, both for sufferers of OCD, to hopefully help them to see that they aren’t the only people struggling with the thoughts in their head, but also for anyone who wants to gain an insight into what it is truly like to be constantly fighting an internal war with yourself.

For more information on Madeline, please visit her website.

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