Living on the Edge starts by seeking to answer the question, "Why do the people who fight our wars and clean up our natural and self-made disasters wind up on the margins of society? Based on the author's work with a group of Chernobyl liquidators- members of the army of more than 750,000 who decontaminated and sealed the site of the 1986 nuclear reactor disaster- the book explores the processes that lead those who start off as heroes to be ultimately despised and rejected by the very society they rescued. A key to this mystery is found in the ancient Chinese creation myth of Pan Ku, in which the universe is created from the fragmentation of the body of an immmense primal being, while human beings are created from the vermin on its body- the very essence of a marginal existence. The journey leads us through an exploration of experiential philosophy, mythology, linguistics, and psychology to the very roots of reality itself. Living on the Edge then applies this model of social marginalization to understanding the why and how the mentally ill are marginalized, shedding light on why, once we are at the margins, return to mainstream society is so difficult. The book concludes with some suggestions about how to make marginalization more of a process and less of a fixed state through the arts and mass media.