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No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  2,532 ratings  ·  522 reviews
New York Times-bestselling author Ron Powers offers a searching, richly researched narrative of the social history of mental illness in America paired with the deeply personal story of his two sons' battles with schizophrenia.

From the centuries of torture of "lunatiks" at Bedlam Asylum to the infamous eugenics era to the follies of the anti-psychiatry movement to the
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Hachette Books
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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Lew Watts
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an extremely painful book to read, not least because I have a history of mental illness in my family. Both my mother and her mother committed suicide—same method, same place—and I grew up visiting the local mental hospital where my mother stayed for long periods of time. She died in 1979, when I was 26. By then she was largely vegetative as a result of over 70 electric shock treatments—she had permanent burn scars on her temples.
And so I found it shocking to read not only the appalling
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a deeply emotional book about an important topic, and it seems to have found a large audience (judging by the number of holds at my local library if not the number of ratings on Goodreads). It’s a great idea, alternating between nonfiction chapters about the nature and history of mental illness and a memoir of the author’s family, including two sons with schizophrenia. And as a journalist, the author has an engaging writing style that kept me wanting to read on. It is marred, however, by ...more
Bonnie Brody
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a clinical social worker with a special interest in the seriously mentally ill, I very much appreciated Ron Powers' personal and societal exploration of mental illness. As the father of two schizophrenic sons, one who took his own life, he knows the ravages of this disease firsthand. Despite a deep need for his family's privacy, he decided to write this book in order to enlighten others and share the appalling narrative of the way that those who are mentally ill have suffered - from their ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Exceptional book that provides both valuable information and family insight to mental illness. While Mr. Powers had every right to pour his emotion into this book he did so sparingly, gently, with elegance and grace. Only after his younger son's death did the powerlessness of what he and his lived through really slam me. Then facing the future helping their older son live with the same mental illness.
The other issue or area of this illness, and there are many, was the fine line between genius
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, nonfiction, memoir
This book is personal enough to be review-proof, so I'm giving it a noncommittal three stars even though I thought it had a lot of flaws. I picked it out because of its important topic: mental illness, and bad public policy surrounding mental illness. However, I think Powers's account of the history of mental illness and treatment is far from definitive and he actually doesn't talk about public policy in that much detail. The policy discussion is personal in that the author never seems to ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
In No One Cares About Crazy People, Ron Powers explores the insidious treatment of the mentally ill throughout history and the social injustice perpetrated against their desperate families. Stigmatized by societies indifference towards the insane, Powers personal account of son Kevin’s slow descent into schizophrenia showcases the incredibly painful process faced while fighting for faster medical treatment. Based on the misunderstanding that schizophrenia can be cured with medication and the ...more
11811 (Eleven)
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a tough one. I understand the well-intentioned motive of forcing schizophrenics to take their medicine but I dislike the language used in the congressional bills the author supports. Civil liberties is an issue here despite the author’s casual dismissal of that fact. The bill would “expand involuntary outpatient commitment, under which someone with serious mental illness is court-mandated to follow a specific treatment plan, usually requiring medication.”

What qualifies as a serious
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a moving experience!!! I checked this book from the library,but I’m buying a copy. This book tells two stories: the tale of the author’s two schizophrenic sons, and the history of mental healthcare in the United States.
I don’t know which touched me more. We have a serious problem in my country. The mentally ill are the homeless. No one is there to go take care of them; there are no safety nets. Medication costs are sky high.
Then there is the author who lost one of his his sons to suicide.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-favorites
The title, No Once Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America says it all. Powers skillfully alternates between the current state and history of the treatment of mental illness and his personal and emotional experiences with two mentally ill sons.

I read this book with a sense of dread, knowing what was coming. Powers is an excellent reporter and a brave father. Although it was both painful and terrifying for me to read, I have to give it 5 stars. This is a
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This text weaves two major threads: an opinionated history of the treatment of mental illness, mostly in the U.S., and a tragic memoir of the author's sons -- gifted and schizophrenic. There's conflict between these threads: I tried to read this as a history and at times felt an excessive number of pages were spent on juvenilia and family emails. This is forgivable, of course; I can't imagine a parent's sense of loss from these events, and it's clear that every scrap of happier times would be ...more
Robyn Obermeyer
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is very sad, yet the details and research into mental illness are real facts. I like the way the writer writes, and feel lots of empathy toward his life and his sons. I learned a lot reading thisand struggle with the truths of schizophrenia as my 33 yr old son has it. As hard as it is for me as a mother, it must be even worse for the ill ones. And if only people would reach out more positively seeing there sensitivity, creativeness, and heart beat just like anyone else, i too believe ...more
James Foster
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review is difficult to write. The book was difficult to read. And I am sure Ron Powers found the book difficult to write. My son has schizophrenia. Powers has two sons with the disease, one of whom it killed. The book interleaves Powers’ personal story with the history of mental illness, and reflections on how we treat the mentally ill, and how we ought to.

I was very grateful that Powers chose to write this book. One thing I have learned from our family’s experiences is that mental illness
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2017-reads
Overview of how psychiatric illness has been misunderstood, criminalized, ignored, and treated, with a special emphasis on schizophrenia, the disease that haunts Powers's own family.

Although it clocked in at 15 hours I was able to listen to the entire audiobook over two short days, which helped my momentum and focus. (Explanation: I sped it up to 1.5x the speed, did a lot of walking, and I had an eye-strain headache that meant when I wasn't working I was resting my eyes and listening.)

Joy D
Part memoir, part history of the treatment of mental illness, author Ron Powers draws attention to the plight of millions suffering from mental illness. He illuminates the factors that have led to the current state of chaos, where many mentally ill are no longer institutionalized, but fill our streets and jails, without access to treatment. Both of his sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the memoir portion of this book is a poignant and heart-wrenching account of their descent into ...more
Leah Rachel von Essen
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America is a great idea for a book, and it does have a lot of interesting information in it. It’s a book that dives deep into the cruelties of our history in treating the mentally ill, and that argues fiercely for the need for action, particularly for those with schizophrenia. Ron Powers is the father of two sons with schizophrenia, one of whom committed suicide, and there is an autobiographical aspect to this book as ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a heartbreaking and fascinating book about the author's two schizophrenic sons, one of whom survives and relatively thrives, and the other who hangs himself. The book is also an indictment of the mental-health-care system in the United States. Prospects for that don't look very good. The title is a quote from an aide to Wisconsin governer Scott Walker and is typical of the unfeeling political response typifying much of government and the public.
Angela Demott
I was and still am extremely compelled and moved by the devastating experiences of the Powers family, and Ron Powers' writing about his sons is elegant, gripping, honorary, and definitely why you should read this memoir.

In many ways, this book is two books, and only about a third of this memoir is actually memoir. The rest is Ron Powers' manifesto: names, dates, and statistics of the sordid history of mental health care. Some of it is interesting, some of it is medical, and some feels like
Bonnie G.
There is so much good in this book, Powers' warts and all sharing of his life, his struggles with two schizophrenic sons, including the suicide of one of those boys just days before his 21st birthday, is beautiful, and brave, and does so much to humanize mental illness. In this historical moment when we demonize the mentally ill because of the acts of a few we need to raise understanding of what mental illness is and isn't. I could not be more grateful to Powers for shedding light on the reality ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
While No One Cares About Crazy People had moments that were very strong and very moving, the book also suffered from major weaknesses.

The first major issue that I had with this book was the structure. The book alternates between chronicling the history of the treatment of people with mental illness and a sort of memoir of the lives of his sons both of which suffer from schizophrenia. These two sections are rarely connected and that makes the book feel disjointed and I think both sections would
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews.

Ron Powers' story is such a compelling one. In this book, he tackles explaining the current state of mental health in America and showing us his own experiences with his sons. Both of his sons, Kevin and Dean, have battled against schizophrenia from the time they were young adults.

Schizophrenia manifests in young adults, and some people see that as a part of synaptic pruning. Sorry to get all technical, but synaptic pruning occurs in neural
Sarah Wilson
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let me start off with saying: I wish this book didn't exist. I wish it was full of falsehoods. But instead it's filled with harsh realities that we as a nation and a culture have to face. This book alternates between chapters of the history of the treatment of mental illness (with a focus on severe mental illnesses) by the government, doctors, and society as a whole and the authors personal story of his journey with two sons who developed schizophrenia. The writing in the informational chapters ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
In parts memoir and in parts a history and policy look at the way society, medicine and politics handle the mentally ill especially schizophrenics. It takes on the conflict between autonomy vs. treatment for schizophrenics, It covers the history from Bedlam, to Nazi euthanasia and eugenics, to the old days when the insane were warehoused to the equal modern horror of dumping them in the streets and funneling the insane into prison. It also talks about the author's painful experiences of having ...more
Corinne Dolci
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must for anyone interested in or affected by mental health issues (which is all us, btw). Also happens to be brilliantly written and researched, with nuanced analysis throughout.

For anyone who has dealt with the mentally ill closely, reading Powers' descriptions of his experiences with his sons is transcendent, cathartic, and profound.
Claudia Putnam
Well worth reading. The sad title comes from a comment made by a Wisconsin governor Scott Walker staffer in response to a scandal concerning mental health institution abuses. Don't worry about it affecting your career, she advised, because "no one cares about crazy people."

Powers is an accomplished journalist, and in this book he examines the history of treatment for mental illness and the history of attitudes toward the mentally ill through the lens of his own experience as the parent of two
Jeanne Mixon
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book because I have two children who suffer from depression but also because I had a brother who was a paranoid schizophrenic who killed himself 27 years ago. My brother who was diagnosed as suicidal after years of psychosis was institutionalized and given an antipsychotic medication that caused him to "see things clearly" and prompted him to kill himself.

The author traces the history of mental illness and treatment, not always in an entirely coherent pattern. But the gist
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was both heartbreaking and informative - Ron Powers lost one of his sons, Kevin, to suicide, a fact with which he opens the book. His other son, Dean, is still alive, but struggles with schizophrenia. My own interest in mental health comes both from my own experiences and from working in several different institutions where it is a primary concern -- libraries, schools, and prisons. Powers gives a fairly thorough overview of how mental illness has been treated over the last hundred years, ...more
Steve Peifer
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very possibility the most harrowing book you may ever read. Sad, desperate and a scene that is every parent's worst nightmare. Not for the faint of heart but an important subject told with sad courage.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very important book, thoroughly researched and blending both today's treatment of mental illness as well as it's history over the past century. Both of author Ron Powers sons were afflicted with schizophrenia, with his youngest taking his own life. The history was so clearly presented, and interspersed with the emotional retelling of this family's journey in seeking diagnosis and treatment for their sons. A very, very gripping book.
I was particularly interested as had watched friends grapple
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
My heart goes out to Ron, his wife, and remaining son. I also thank him for showing me how hard it was and is for my parents as they deal with my mental illness. I need to remember how hard it has been for them, even while trying to stumble forward. It isn't on purpose, but it can be easy to seem selfish when you have a mental illness. You're trying so hard to act normal that you forget there are those people (often parents) that pick up the pieces when you can't act any longer and be grateful ...more
Jessica Leight
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be considerably overrated. Roughly half of the book is a memoir about Powers' own struggles with the mental illness of his two sons, and half is a history of U.S. policies around mental illness. The latter part does provide a reasonable overview of the subject, but doesn't seem very different from what's available in other sources. The first part is certainly powerfully affecting, but the tone often grated on me. Powers seems afraid that he will be blamed for his sons' ...more
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Ron Powers (born 1941) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, novelist, and non-fiction writer. His face include White Town Drowsing: Journeys to Hannibal, Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain, and Mark Twain: A Life. With James Bradley, he co-wrote the 2000 #1 New York Times Bestseller Flags of Our Fathers.

Powers won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1973 for his
“To begin consciously searching into the world of mental illness is to see it snap into focus before your eyes. It is everywhere. It has been hiding in plain sight, awaiting notice. Its camouflage is little more than the human instinct to reject engagement with the pitiable, the fearsome, the unspeakable—and to close our eyes to the moral obligations that those states of being demand of us.” 2 likes
“The mentally ill people in our lives, as they strive to build healthy, well-supported, and rewarding lives for themselves, can show us all how to reconnect with the most primal of human urges, the urge to be of use, disentangling from social striving, consumer obsession, cynicism, boredom, and isolation, and honoring it among the true sources of human happiness.” 0 likes
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