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NONFICTION Journalist Kolker offers a gripping and powerful portrait of a family haunted by schizophrenia. Of the 12 children in the Galvin family, six were diagnosed with the disease. Their cases paved the way for a new understanding of the disease.
Another of the NY Times 10 best of 2020. It tells the story of a family in Colorado who had 12 children, ten boys and two girls. Six of the boys develop schizophrenia. Amazingly heartbreaking story, and there are many connections with my own life. My brother also developed schizophrenia during the same time period (late 1960s), and this had a profound effect on my family. We were in New Mexico, so also in the Southwest. Truly an amazing story, and I can't say enough about the kindness of this family for opening up and telling their story in the hopes of helping others deal with this disease.
A fascinating look at an increasingly chaotic family of 12 children, 10 boys. There is a lot of competition and fighting between the boys that becomes increasingly violent. And one by one the boys start experiencing irrational beliefs which cause them to do irrational things like throwing all the furniture out of the house, or walking down the centre line of a highway at night. Finally the behaviour is given a label-schizophrenia. We learn how the family attempted to cope with and get treatment for the boys. They are sent to various psychiatric hospitals and later special facilities that temporarily house and treat the boys. ECT therapy, drug therapy, restraints-it becomes a revolving door where they are stabilized for a couple of months and then released back home, only to return to the hospital or clinic. The chaos in the family home never really stops. From the 50's to the present day, we learn that effective treatments for schizophrenia remain elusive.
Fascinating book and quite well-written. Would have benefitted from some editing and a bit more focus though -- towards the end, I found myself scanning just to get it finished. Difficult to keep track of twelve siblings, although the author tried to help by listing them each chapter (with the subject(s) of the chapter highlighted).
Hidden Valley Road tells the story of a family devastated by schizophrenia. Six of the Galvin family’s twelve children would be diagnosed with the mental illness. The book also tells the history of schizophrenia as well as the research that might offer hope for the future. I highly recommend this book. The author brings each member of the family to life and treats them with compassion and dignity. He also makes the medical information interesting and easy to understand for the layperson
When more than intelligence and good looks runs in the family. An American family devastated by schizophrenia. An NYT pick for 2020 best 100 books of the year.
This fascinating book explores the intersection of social pressures and psychopharmacology on a very unique family.
Mr. Kolker is a journalist and author. His writing is exemplary. The book is richly written with extensive detail. Mr. Kolker tells the story of the Galvin family in the context of post-World War II American culture. The returning veteran, married couple raising a family in pursuit of the “American Dream”. Parents Don and Mimi raise twelve children (ten boys and two girls) in their house on Hidden Valley Road. Mr. Kolker presents vivid family history. His writing includes a parallel story for the development of mental health care, science, and principles specific to schizophrenia. The story of the Galvin family intertwines with the story for the development of mental health care. Each story impacts the other. The stories include the struggle between nurture versus nature and the impact of that struggle for the Galvin family. The story tells of the family’s participation with mental health care researchers. The book is a page turner. The story is told in a clear, at times painfully truthful, and empathetic manner. One can feel for the family and its struggles over the years. This is a remarkable story to read and to learn from. Mr. Kolker includes extensive notes for his sources, an index, and full bibliography
What courage for the daughters to bring the family story forward. It’s not only the family story but also the recount of the researches and scientific discoveries and people behind them over the last century. Most of all, the book delivers an intense awareness of mental illnesses and the sufferings of all those involved. Great writing by the author as well.
This might not end up in my favourite books of 2020 but it will definitely be one of the books that provoked the most thought, opinion and emotion for me. I was just itching to talk to someone about it the whole time I was reading. There were many engaging hooks to this book. The progression of the treatment of mental illness over the decades was certainly interesting as were the dynamics of the family relationships in this very large, deeply damaged family. However it was the parents, and in particular the mother of this family that captured my attention the most. My emotional reactions were all over the place with her. I was at times, disapproving, angry or even bewildered with her. At other times I felt like her biggest advocate. Sometimes my heart just ached for her. I don't know where she found the strength to get up and face each day. The story in this book is a true tragedy. That so much misfortune could rain down on one family is almost unbelievable.
Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be the perfect couple and their family large though it was - twelve children in all - seemed to be ideal too, But alas the train that was steaming along got derailed. Six of the ten sons were diagnosed with Schizophrenia. The two daughters escaped but suffered regardless as they were sexually abused. This is a heart-rending story of one American family and what goes on inside their minds. They played a large role in genetic research and one wonders if they would have suffered less had they been born say fifty years later. Robert Kolker has documented the trauma that this family suffered (and caused,) really well. Every mental health professional and mental health consumer needs to read this book.
Written with a keen interest in the vast effects of schizophrenia in the Galvin family. I'm awestruck at how a family with 12 children strive for normalcy much less when many will develop psychotic symptoms and turn their unusual world into a nightmare. Science and research has changed in the field yet still there is so much to be done. On Delisi, a researcher: "As she walked through the door of the house at Hidden Valley Road, she couldn't help but recognize a perfect sample. This could be the most mentally ill family in America."
You can't make this stuff up.
This is such a heartbreaking book. The story of the incredible tragedy of Mimi and Don Galvin and their family, in which 6 of their 12 children were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The book details the stories of the each of the six boys who developed the disease and how it changed the entire family and led to more tragedy. It is also a modern medical detective story including detailed historical treatments of the disease and this family's part in solving its mysteries. Not an easy read, but worth it to know some suffering did indeed eventually help others.
This is a heart-breaking story of a family with twelve children, six of whom were later diagnosed with schizophrenia. The reader is introduced to the family through the eyes of the youngest, a girl who never succumbed to mental illness herself, but being surrounded by it was impacted along with the rest of the family. It is a hard book to read. One that you want to put down and not pick up again, but the need to find out how the family copes overrides the fear of discovering more sadness. It is also a look at how schizophrenia was dealt with in the 1950’-1970’s and how this family helped with research. I cannot imagine what it was like to have to pretend their lives were normal. I think about how a family like this would have been shunned when I was growing up. Through Kolker’s compassionate writing, I felt like I knew each member of the family.