How does one classify "sciction"?
Sciction is a type of non-fiction with specific characteristics.
1. It must educate as its primary goal.
2. It must portray real scientific endeavor not futuristic scientific imagination as in science fiction.
3. The educational information must be based on fact.
4. The information must be upgradeable: In fiction, the contents are largely immutable except for possibly
translations into more modern language, or dialects or other languages. In sciction, information may become
outdated which means book revisions may be associated with revisions of the factual scientific contents of the text, like any other text-book.
5. It must have a distinct literary style: dialogue, characterization, play within prose, composites of reality all are
features that reflect this genre of sciction.
Why is Cry the Beloved Mind appropriately
classified under the broadest guise of "non-fiction"?
With the classification of Dr Neppe's new pioneering classic, Cry the Beloved Mind: A Voyage of Hope in the
new literary genre of "sciction" the question is legitimately asked, is it non-fiction or fiction?
This is more than theoretical as it is currently the only book specifically defined as in the literary genre of
sciction, though no doubt others exist.
Sciction has most similarities to another new literary genre called "creative non-fiction" which is non-fiction with fictitious embellishments. We believe it to be different, however, from creative non-fiction because there are no
such fictitious embellishments. Every facet of this book "Cry the Beloved Mind: A Voyage of Hope" is based on
What parts allow for fiction?
Why then "sciction"? Where does the fiction come in? It is only a peripheral facet. The characterization of the
student, Andrew is fictitious, though, he could resemble many medical students. The dialogue between doctor and
patient, and doctor and medical student is based on fact but written as fiction. The characters of patients are
fiction only the sense that no specific patient in the book exactly resembles one single patient the author has
treated. However, such patients' symptoms and problems are real composites extracted from several different
patients. The fiction is the literary component of sciction.
Why the non-fiction classification ----
is it the science?
Simply because this is how the book was written. It is written as a medical and scientific document. Like other scientific papers, it is not neutral, but expresses opinions and preferences. The object of the book is scientific education. But to make such a didactic text especially worthwhile, it is written in a prose and dialogue style ---- a play within prose --- that is designed to fascinate, provide hope and help and teach all at the same time. It would have been far easier writing pure non-fiction, like many of the books that preceded it. But this would have compromised its style and short-changed the reader. They would have read a dry scientific treatise not a fascinating piece of non-fiction designed to help thousands of lost souls.
But are there specific examples of non-fiction
in this book?
Indeed, yes. Every patient described in the book is reflected in appropriate scientific literature in regard to the
nature of the new discovery or innovative or pioneering treatment. Footnotes appear citing the appropriate
literature. Moreover, the more general teachings such as absorption or metabolism of medications have a solid
basis in scientific endeavor. Moreover, each and every case described in the book, has a solid basis in reality and
no key information has been changed, other than to disguise the patient or exclude out irrelevancies in the case
history or allow composites. This has the dual function of emphasizing certain points and also disguising the
patient's identities for confidentiality. In fact, in a review in the King County Medical Society Newsletter (1999),
Dr Ronald Scheneeweiss makes the following comment:
"Dr. Neppe has written
an insightful and often humorous book based on his many years
of working as a neuropsychiatrist and psychopharmacologist.
He has coined the term "sciction"science through fiction
"" to describe his technique of creating composite patient
stories from his clinical experience.
I wondered whether the cases were more fiction than science so I asked him if he had made up any of the "facts.
He assured me that all the cases are composites of real patients that he has personally taken care of."