Sheila's Reviews > Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

Crazy by Pete Earley
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's review
Aug 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: mental-health
Read from December 28, 2011 to January 07, 2012

I enjoyed this book a lot and appreciated some of the history behind state mental health institutions and the controversy behind Birnbaum's "right to treatment" and what that led to. Even though I work in mental health and was aware of some of the issues in the criminal justice system, I was shocked to hear of the treatment within the Miami-Dade county jail and the conditions of the state hospitals even into the 80s and 90s. The individual stories he profiled were really quite heart-breaking. After halfway through the book, I did start to see what people meant regarding Earley's bias but it didn't bother me as much as it did others. He is obviously in favor of involuntary commitment and I think he is presenting a strong argument in favor of it. It's a complicated issue and I think this books helps to pose difficult, ethical questions that people are making decisions about on the ground on a daily basis. I did think his many examples of mentally ill people as violent increases the ofen-incorrect perception that all (or the majority of) mentally ill people are violent. Lastly, I always love books written by journalists because of the thorough research that goes into them and their ability to break down complicated topics in a digestable way.

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