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Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness

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WINNER: Best Autobiography/Memoir, 2018 Best Book Awards, sponsored by American Book Fest

Glenn Close says: Another Kind of Madness is one of the best books I've read about the cost of stigma and silence in a family touched by mental illness. I was profoundly moved by Stephen Hinshaw's story, written beautifully, from the inside-out. It's a masterpiece.

A deeply personal memoir calling for an end to the dark shaming of mental illness

Families are riddled with untold secrets. But Stephen Hinshaw never imagined that a profound secret was kept under lock and key for 18 years within his family--that his father's mysterious absences, for months at a time, resulted from serious mental illness and involuntary hospitalizations. From the moment his father revealed the truth, during Hinshaw's first spring break from college, he knew his life would change forever.

Hinshaw calls this revelation his "psychological birth." After years of experiencing the ups and downs of his father's illness without knowing it existed, Hinshaw began to piece together the silent, often terrifying history of his father's life--in great contrast to his father's presence and love during periods of wellness. This exploration led to larger discoveries about the family saga, to Hinshaw's correctly diagnosing his father with bipolar disorder, and to his full-fledged career as a clinical and developmental psychologist and professor.

In Another Kind of Madness, Hinshaw explores the burden of living in a family "loaded" with mental illness and debunks the stigma behind it. He explains that in today's society, mental health problems still receive utter castigation--too often resulting in the loss of fundamental rights, including the inability to vote or run for office or automatic relinquishment of child custody. Through a poignant and moving family narrative, interlaced with shocking facts about how America and the world still view mental health conditions well into in the 21st century, Another Kind of Madness is a passionate call to arms regarding the importance of destigmatizing mental illness.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published June 20, 2017

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About the author

Stephen P. Hinshaw

18 books51 followers
Stephen Hinshaw grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended Harvard and UCLA. A professor of psychology (UC Berkeley) and Psychiatry (UC San Francisco), he is an international presence in clinical psychology/mental health, with over 320 articles/chapters and 12 books. He received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001; his Teaching Company (‘Great Lecture’) series, “Origins of the Human Mind,” appeared in 2010. He has been recognized by the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (2015), the James McKeen Cattell Award from the Association for Psychological Science (2016) for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to applied psychological research, and the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award (2017) from the Society for Research in Child Development. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Kelly Campbell; they have three sons. His newest book, "Another Kind of Madness," chronicles his father's recurring mental illness and the doctor-enforced silence surrounding it, plus the huge need to combat stigma.


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5 stars
171 (30%)
4 stars
202 (35%)
3 stars
161 (28%)
2 stars
29 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,214 reviews551 followers
July 24, 2017
Most have rated this much higher than I did. Most gave it 5 stars.

The title is 5 stars. This is core- the definition of "the stigma" and the deep connotations for its practice during the 1950's until the end of the century, for that time particularly. It's 6 stars for conveying what fall outs and ultimate sacrifices are paid for "that separation" of non-verbal acceptance for something that holds a humongous stigma to the greater community/society. It's titled perfectly. There are few things that still hold that stigma. Mental illness is one and probably still the largest stigma of all. Obesity, especially morbid obesity is another. To the people I have known with this in the family, it is just as bad.

But this is also portrayed through "eyes" that hold some of the very distortions in mood, reaction, silence, life layering for "different" people- as he holds for parts of the mental illness of his father. From "good" days to "sick days". It conveys the misery more than the reality for his father's treatments. And the "hope" part. Which I wanted more of- specifics.

Suffering all around. His sister got much more of it than Stephen did, IMHO. Would have liked to hear far more about her invisibility from HER, too. Not in complaint, but what her life plan reaction to that "bad fit of father's interest" became. Bet she over-achieved to the max!

But especially for his poor Mother. Quite honestly, I would have much more been encompassed by this history if SHE were the "eyes" that narrated. Nothing against Stephen- but he was not the one to see the glint shifting behind the glare and so knew what was coming that day. I remember all of those decades and know what it took to go to a lawyer and set things up as she did "just in case". And to PRESERVE her marriage promises. "In SICKNESS" being the hardest one of all. Do I know it.

When you have various mood, cognition, delusion etc. disorders like this in your own biological family, and ESPECIALLY within people who have extremely high IQ's, as in this Hinshaw group- you will understand more why this book only got a 3 star for me. It was too much about Stephen and Stephen's perceptions and reactions. But that's how it is. And the focus HAS to be on the most ill or those with most reaction to that ill, regardless of other family voids. For society/community protection, if nothing else.

At one time containment was thought to be essential. And then the opposite. And now? Especially upon the ages of some of the worst conditions' onsets (18-22)- self-determinations are usually the WORST to outcome. Short term and long term. Medicines help but still not near to solving!

But I have always thought that the most cruel aspect (truly then but still now too) was the "understanding" doctors. Just like the ones who discredited all of Stephen's Mom's advice and predictions because they "knew better". And separated her from all their protocols.

Minds' perceptions, inputs of what is "tracked", emotive balances are very different and so are the illnesses. Each illness to another's illness. They can be grouped into like categories, but they are never quite the same, nor easily set into a "type" category. DSM-III to DSM-5 all is vastly categorized in a changing mode, as well.
Profile Image for iva°.
562 reviews85 followers
September 15, 2019
s. hinshaw, potaknut mentalnom bolešću svog oca i praćenjem iste cijelog svog života, napisao je izvrsnu knjigu (nagrađenu 2018. best book awardsom za najbolju knjigu u kategoriji autobiografija i memoara), kombinaciju beletristike i stručne literature.

prvenstveno se bavi problemom stigmatizacije mentalnih oboljenja i iskreno, ali bez ikakve patetike, opisuje životni put svog oca - počevši od njegovog "leta"s krova kuće kad mu je bilo 16 i hospitalizacije nakon toga, preko krivo postavljene dijagnoze, opisujući zbunjenost koju je imao kad bi, dok je bio dječak, ostajao bez oca na nekoliko tjedana ili mjeseci dok je otac, mimo njegovog znanja, bio hospitaliziran pa do razgovora koje je "iza vrata" vodio sa svojim ocem do nedugo prije njegove smrti. hinshaw daje topao, stručan (profesor je psihologije na sveučilištu i cijeli život posvetio radu s oboljelima od mentalnih bolesti i borbi protiv stigme koju povlače za sobom) i za sve nas nužan uvid u život s mentalnim oboljenjem (=život sa stigmom) i kao takav trebalo bi biti obaveznom literaturom svakome tko želi sebe učiniti otvorenijom osobom i/li tko želi raditi na poboljšanju društva.

iako mjestimice teška i mučna (pogotovo opisi fizičkog zlostavljanja (bičevanja) koja je otac u djetinjstvu pretrpio ili opisi duševnih bolnica kakve su bile u 40.-ima i 50.-ima, npr. zloglasni byberry), važnost prihvaćanja i razumijevanja mentalnih bolesti i borba protiv stigme kojom su oboljeli -a u jednakoj mjeri i njihove obitelji- zahvaćeni, kudikamo nadilazi mučninu same tematike.

a ako misliš da nitko u tvojoj okolini ne pati od nekog oblika duševnog poremećaja, s obzirom na postotak oboljelih osoba najvjerojatnije si u krivu... a neki od glavnih razloga tog neznanja su upravo stigma, sram, "neprimjerenost" i strah koji ih prate.
Profile Image for Nicky.
60 reviews
September 2, 2017
This was a little all over the place. It wasn't completely about his father's life, and it wasn't completely about his own. It was a weird mixture of back and forth that was confusing at times to keep up with. The information was insightful and thought provoking, but he would give technical information and history at random times.
Profile Image for Debbie Berris.
140 reviews1 follower
March 22, 2017
I received an advanced reader's uncorrected proof of this book. Thank you, Goodreads. I was mesmerized by the story of the extended Hinshaw family and the revelations which son, Stephen, unearthed which shaped his life and unleashed his career. Stephen has spent his academic and professional life trying to understand how it is possible that society has failed to overcome the stigma of mental illness and other conditions that we classify as "the others". He has reached out to children and adults through speaking, studying, writing, and directing programs for those who suffer. His work is guided through stages in which the veil of silence which shrouded his father's life becomes transparent. I was horrified to learn more about the inhumane treatment of mentally ill patients and misdiagnosed patients in history. And yet, knowing that so many of society's failings persist with no plan for a compassionate, knowledgeable, selfless or respectful response, makes obvious how far we have to go. We are really not an advanced civilization if we can treat those who suffer so unjustly. This heartbreaking memoir/autobiography exposes the truth of 'us' and 'them' and is an eloquent call to action.
Profile Image for Krystle.
172 reviews
June 26, 2017
Wow..... I really don't know where to start with this book. This book explains Mental Illness better than most medical journals because it makes it real, it gives you a face/family. This book also explains how mental illness affects families and not just in a "my child/dad/brother is sick" sense.

If you were ever curious or just want to learn more about Mental illness, read this book.
November 11, 2017
Imagine being a child, and wondering where your father is randomly throughout your childhood.

He's there.....then he's not.....then he's back and no one say anything.


This is a great informational book/memoir on mental illness and the importance of doing away with stigma. It was lengthy in some places, although very well written and researched.
Profile Image for Tihana Knjigožderonja.
233 reviews70 followers
December 15, 2019

Stephen i obitelj snalazili su se najbolje kako su znali, iako je Stephen cijelo vrijeme osjećao kako nešto nije u redu. „Svi smo igrali ozbiljne uloge, u neudobnim kostimima i zbunjujućim scenama, bez ikakvih proba. S vremenom smo se počeli pretvarati da se ne pretvaramo. Svaka je izvedba išla uživo, a mi smo glumili kao da nam životi ovise o tome.“

Čekao je osamnaest godina kako bi saznao pravu istinu o očevoj bolesti, o njegovoj braći, o stigmi koja ih prati cijeli život. Otac mu se odlučio otvoriti i razgovarati s njim o tijeku njegove bolesti. Na kraju je Stephen bio upravo taj koji je shvatio kako je ocu pogrešno dijagnosticirana shizofrenija, te mu je postavio dijagnozu bipolarnog poremećaja. Možda je upravo zbog obiteljske povijesti Stephen postao stručnjak na području mentalnih bolesti.

Možda ćete sad shvatiti zašto imam pomiješane osjećaje. Svi mi živimo s nekom bolesti. Svi u obitelji imamo nekoga tko je bolestan, više ili manje. I svi se s time nosimo. Kukamo ponekad, ali nije nas sram reći da smo bolesni ili da je netko bolestan. Sve dok ne krene priča o mentalnim bolestima. Tu kao da izgubimo razum. „Mentalne bolesti, koje se smatraju posljedicom iracionalnosti, nepredvidivosti ili pogrešnog odgoja, izazivaju prezir i sramotu, a ne suosjećanje.“

„Prema provedenim istraživanjima stavova, tri su obilježja na dnu ljestvice društveno prihvatljivih: beskućništvo, drogiranje i mentalne bolesti.“ Mentalne bolesti izazivaju osjećaj straha i srama. Bježimo od njih kao vrag od tamjana. Žalimo sve one koji se nose s takvim bolestima, zahvaljujući se bogovima i vragovima što to nije snašlo naše bližnje ili nas. I možda smo čak i spremi prodati dušu vragu samo da sačuvamo naš mozak. Samo to. Jer smo svjesni što to znači. Ako mi bježimo od osoba koje imaju mentalnu bolest, bježat će od nas ako i mi obolimo.

Na Stephenovom primjeru možemo savršeno vidjeti kako njegov otac nije imao podršku ni od članova vlastite obitelji. Njegova žena i djeca su ga stigmatizirala više od dva desetljeća jer je to bilo normalno. „Stigma je druga vrsta mentalne bolesti, najgora koja postoji, daleko gora od same bolesti s kojom se pojedinac nosi. Nametnuta tišina – potaknuta sramom, a donedavno i stručnjacima s područja mentalnih bolesti – ima nesagledive posljedice za sve koji u njoj sudjeluju.“

Što se događa? Zašto stigmatiziramo sve što ima veze s mentalnim bolestima? Zašto okrećemo glavu na drugu stranu?

Ljudi koji boluju do mentalnih bolesti su isto ljudi. Ljudi kojima treba pomoć. Svakodnevno slušam kako su takvi ljudi bahati, bezobrazni, nasilni, kako se s njima ne može. A možda i ne želi.

Nalazimo toliko opravdanja jer ne znamo obrazac nošenja s njima. Ne znamo što je dobro, što je loše, hoće li isti obrazac ponašanja biti dobar svaki put ili će se svaki put nešto promijeniti. Ne čitamo o tome, ne bavimo se time, nemamo dovoljno znanja, volje ni energije.

Možda nam je lakše vjerovati kako smo jednostavno dali sve od sebe kako bi im pomogli, a oni to jednostavno odbijaju. Možda je lakše dignuti ruke i reći da nas se to ne tiče jer imamo dovoljno problema u vlastitom životu.

Sve dok se „to“ ne dogodi nama.

Grickajmo knjige zajedno!
21 reviews3 followers
November 13, 2017
The content of this book is informative and moving, and the style melds a clinician's writing approach with personal history. It is not a literary memoir, but more of an emotional and scientific survey of the impact of mental illness and the stigma of mental illness on a family, and the ways that experience drove a member of the family to devote his life to the scientific study and breakthrough of mental illness. It was easy to read. I really appreciated the overarching "social justice" themes hit upon in the bigger picture of fighting stigmas.
Profile Image for Mary Lautner.
141 reviews2 followers
July 15, 2017
Mental illness affects all of us

There are so many parts to this book that touch on my life: secrecy in families over mental illness (or any other issue), mishandling of mental illness, the stigma of mental illness and how it imprints so profoundly on the person struggling with mental illness. I could go on. Read this book to gain understanding and empathy.
Profile Image for Hannah.
68 reviews
February 4, 2019
Wonderfully insightful and heartfelt writing. In depth about mental illness in his family without being to dramatic or clinical a good balance.
Profile Image for John Rowe.
Author 1 book10 followers
February 8, 2021
Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness by Stephen P. Hinshaw is a memoir focusing on the author's brilliant philosophy professor of a father who suffered from un/mis-diagnosed bipolar personality during the years when mental illness was stigmatized (more than today) and mental institutions were worse than our worst nightmares.

One interesting thought experiment the author puts forward, which stuck with me, is the following: About 20 years ago, the author was in a seminar when it was believed that many mental illnesses would be able to be tied to specific genes (apparently, this notion has since been debunked). The seminar leader asked for a show of hands of who would abort their fetus if they found that it carried the gene for bipolar personality. Everyone in the class raised their hand except for the author and his friend. The author was horrified to realize that his entire family would have been prevented from being born in such a world. One thing I have noticed in my travels/readings is that great genius often is burdened by some form of mental illness. This anecdote got me wondering about what kind of world we would live in, what kind of breakthroughs would be missed, if there was no mental illness in the world. But I digress.

The author is a professor of psychology, so he knows what he is talking about. However, I found the memoir a little too focused on the mundane details of the author's life at times (the time he chipped his tooth, the time he froze up in right field and missed a fly ball, etc.). Clearly, writing this memoir was therapeutic for the author, which is great for him.

If you find this sort of thing interesting you will enjoy it. I did not really. But it did make me think at times.

3 stars.
1 review2 followers
June 25, 2017
An outstanding book; exceptionally hard to put down!  Tells the sad story of the Hinshaw family's secret struggle with mental illness over many decades, while shedding very badly needed light on the searing pain of stigma and the silence that surrounds many families touched by mental illness.  I was deeply affected by this book.  This is a must read for so many individuals and families, as well as psychology, nursing, and medical students and professionals.  If you or someone you love has been affected by a mental illness, you will find much here to connect with, and if you haven't, you will come to a much greater understanding of those who have been affected.  Very sadly, stigma is very much alive in our country, and the time to end it is long overdue.  Hinshaw's beautifully-written book and courageously-shared story is a solid step in the right direction.
Profile Image for Susan.
11 reviews
February 27, 2021
Such an important topic! Hinshaw's memoir is poignant, compassionate, and courageous.
Profile Image for Carol.
520 reviews8 followers
July 4, 2017
Steven Hinshaw never thought that in his family a secret has been kept in the family for 18 years. His father had revealed his long history with mental illness and involuntary hospitalizations. Hinshaw knew his life would change forever. Hinshaw explores the burden of living in a family loaded with mental illness and debunks the stigma behind it. Explains in today's society mental health problems can result in the loss of a drivers license inability to vote run for office This book is a passionate call to arms regarding destigmatizing mental illness.
Profile Image for Krystina Schuler.
Author 3 books7 followers
July 31, 2018
A fascinating glimpse into the world of bi-polar disorder told from the son's point of view about his father's experiences and his own growing up in a family silenced by stigma. I could have used a few more cues about when in time we were, as the narrative jumps between his father's history and his own, but overall a read that should increase anyone's empathy toward those who have to manage mental illness.
452 reviews4 followers
December 23, 2018
3.5 Stars: Worth reading. There still so much we don't understand about mental illness and how to support those that struggle. This book is about the authors father's long struggle and thoughtful reflection on the lives of those around him. Amazing that his mother managed to keep the family together and go on to have her own successful career. A family tree would have been helpful addition.
Profile Image for Anthony Faber.
1,579 reviews4 followers
December 7, 2017
The author grew up with a severely manic depressive father who was often institutionalized and he talks about his family history and his training as a psychologist in leading up to his central thesis, which is that we should stop stigmatizing people with mental illness, and what works and doesn't work in destigmatizing it.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,699 reviews20 followers
December 17, 2018
While Stephen Hinshaw and his sister Sally were growing up in Ohio their father would periodically disappear for months at a time, and once for an entire school year. No explanation was ever given for his absences and the one time Stephen asked his mother he was told to not ask any more questions. Stephen didn't find out until his first year of college that his father had been diagnosed as schizophrenic (mis-diagnosed, he was actually bi-polar) and the absences were involuntary hospitalizations. This information rocks Stephen's world and he actually decides to study psychology in order to try to help people like his father and reduce the stigma around mental illness. As Stephen's father gradually opens up to him about his mental illness Stephen beings to realize that many people in his family suffer from mental illness, but it was never discussed. In the 1940's and 50's when his father was first hospitalized doctors told the families to not tell children anything and the stigma was so great that Stephen's mother never even told her mother or friends. Stephen's father was a brilliant man who went on to make a name for himself as a sought-after philosophy professor despite his mental illness and hospitalizations. Throughout college Stephen struggles with worrying about developing mental illness (especially once he realizes how rampant it is in his family), but feels like he can't talk about it. Finally while in graduate school he stars opening up and really begins working to change things in the mental health field. But, only by telling his family's story can he really heal from the trauma of shame and stigma his family suffered with for years. This was a really interesting look at mental illness and stigma from someone who experienced it firsthand and is working hard to make changes in both the medical profession and in society.

Some quotes I liked:

"During the 1950s the psychiatric profession forbade family members from knowing about the very forms of illness under its care. Would an oncologist direct a patient never to divulge his or her cancer to family members, including children - or a cardiologist, heart disease? It's unthinkable. But mental illness was so shameful that banning all discussion was believed to be therapeutic. Our family's role-playing was off and running, professionally sanctioned - even ordered." (p. 81-2)

"To this day I fight the long-held belief that I must suppress anything troubling, which is part of my learned pattern, too often keeping me stuck even now. It's one of the key battles of my lifetime." (p. 100)

[After finding out that another mentally ill family member had committed suicide] "How had I managed to hang on to my sanity: through my intensive work ethic and blocking off feelings? Or just the blind luck of the genetic draw? I couldn't figure it out then. Even now, I'm not sure." (p. 190)
289 reviews1 follower
October 8, 2017
"People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget." James Baldwin -Giovanni's Room

This is a true story about Hinshaw family and their struggle with mental illness. The book was written by Stephen Hinshaw as he described his life growing up in Columbus Ohio and living in a family where his father suffered from a misdiagnosed type of bi-polar disease. Professor Henshaw was a professor at The Ohio State University and taught philosophy. Stephen remembers various times in his childhood when his dad would mysteriously disappear for weeks or even months. His mother simply told him that "dad needed rest". The illness was covered up by mom who was diligently protecting the family as instructed o by dad's psychiatrist. Keep in mind that this was during he fifties when any type of mental illness was considered a stigma.
Steve and his younger sister coped with the explanation and absences of dad in various ways. Steve especially poured his life into sports and academics. Ten when he came home for his first spring break during his freshman year, Steve's dad took hi aside and began telling him the story of his life. Steve learned of his dad's first manic episode where he believed he could fly and jumped out of his second story window. This resulted in physical injuries, but also hospitalization into an mental institution for several months. In subsequent years Steve learned more and more about his illness from his dad. Eventually Steve wanted to study psychology in order to better understand his dad and his dad's relatives who also had varying degrees of mental illness.
This is a very poignant story of the stigma of mental illness that existed in the 50's and still exists today.
I learned much about this disease. A very interesting read.
407 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2022
This is an excellent memoir about the effect of mental illness on the entire family. However, it is much more than that, in that it also follows the progress, and often, lack thereof, of the treatment of mental illness over nearly the past century.
Stephen's father was misdiagnosed in his teens as schizophrenic, and it was only after his son studied psychology in college, and as a graduate student, that he was correctly diagnosed as bi-polar. Because of the incorrect diagnosis, the father, Virgil, suffered through inappropriate treatments, took ineffective medications, and was involuntarily hospitalized on numerous occasions in facilities where the treatment was punitive and inhumane rather than therapeutic.
The illness itself effected every area of his life: his work, marriage, familial relationships, and friendships. Hinshaw, though, also explains how the stigma of mental illness permeated the household. His father's absences were not discussed by his mother, who was kept in the dark by the doctors who treated her husband. When Virgil finally had his first conversation with his son about his illness, Stephen was in college. It was then that they began a routine of spending some private time during their visits discussing Virgil's childhood and hospitalization experiences, as well as work and family matters, within the context of how his illness effected these things. For Stephen, this became a sacred time (my word) but he also felt guilty, because both his mother and sister were not included in his father's confidences.
Stephen, himself, came close to falling over the edge into mental illness in his youth. He likely had an eating disorder, and had many issues regarding shame, competency, and worthiness. He was obviously bright, capable, and successful, yet he kept striving for more, even when it impacted his health, and his sleep, specifically.
I appreciated Hinshaw's transparency and sincerity throughout his story. I hope that the lessons he shares about mental illness will help to improve treatments for, and treatment of, the mentally ill.
380 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2017
This worked as a well written and heart rending personal story of the effects of stigma of mental illness on the author's family. His mother and other family members never spoke about his father's bipolar illness, which affected all their lives in profound ways. Because Hinshaw is a professor of psychology at U.C. Berkeley and the book came out this year I was sorry that he focused almost entirely on how the experience affected his life from the time he was a little boy rather than sharing more of today's efforts to bring mental illness out of the shadows. For example, I am very familiar with the National Alliance on Mental illness, which offers education and support for families as well as on- line resources. The support groups and Family to Family classes held in my rural area for over 10 years are well attended and make a huge difference for families. The State of California launched an anti-stigma program in 2009, the California Strategic Plan on Reducing Mental Health Stigma and Discrimination, a comprehensive 10-year plan to “fight the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health challenges. Various activities and resources are dedicated to combating stigma. I can't attest to their effectiveness, but they are empowering for many of the people who participate . The author's family, and his father suffered greatly due to the ignorance of psychiatrists and the truly hideous forms of what passed as treatment at that time. Medication and medical knowledge have improved greatly, and it is sad to see that effective treatment is not more available partly due to funding and partly to the nature of the illnesses, which can alienate those who might be able to help. The image of his uncle huddled in his lonely, rented room is still all too common.
Profile Image for MountainAshleah.
744 reviews43 followers
August 10, 2021
I had a very difficult time engaging with this memoir. I come from a similar genetic background although none of the mental health challenges were ever discussed or even acknowledged, and some were huge, like my maternal grandfather's aggressive paranoid schizophrenia that manifested in attempted murder of his wife and placement in a notorious mental institution for the rest of his life. My borderline mother used to tell me as a child I'd wind up in that very institution because I was insane. And that's just the maternal side of the nuttiness...Anyway, I never carried the stigma or fear of any of that, never wondered if I'd become bipolar like my father, borderline like her, alcoholic...none of that. I was curious, sure, but not obsessed. Hinshaw as he comes across in this memoir seems too obsessed and for me it doesn't quite ring true, and I can't tell if this memoir is about him or his father or his family, I don't know, it feels both personal and a bit clinical (no surprise given his many achievements in the field). I actually felt most touching and real his acknowledgement that his sister wasn't as important in his father's life, and how he became the golden child while she was just Sally.

Something for me just remains a bit false about this memoir and I can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it's in the latter revelations about his temper, I'm not sure...or earlier bogging down in achievements or just the whole professional achievement aspect when I wanted to read about the human not just the goals. I just could not connect to this story, even with such commonalities with my own. Thus it took me forever to finish and usually I inhale this kind of book.
Profile Image for Paul.
815 reviews44 followers
March 12, 2018
This book is an inquiry by a son about his father's bipolar disorder, which had been a buried family secret for his entire childhood and youth. His father had had two manic episodes for which he'd been hospitalized--or at least institutionalized--each time. The second time was when he had a psychotic break on the his first day of teaching philosophy class at a university.

His institutionalizations were kept secret from his family with the explanation that he was taking a vacation somewhere by himself. In each manic episode he didn't know if what was happening to him was delusional or true. Finally, the author got his father to admit to his bipolar diagnosis while the author was in college, and the revelation brought forth more stories of extended-family episodes of mental illness.

Finally the author deals with the stigmatization of people with mental illness, how it isn't covered by insurance plans the way physical illness is and how people suffering from it will not talk about it for fear of being stigmatized. Being called "crazy" is the worst insult a person may be handed, and it's largely because those who have not experienced mental illness don't know its various manifestations and that it isn't contagious.

I would have given this five stars except for my assessment that the author is too analytical in his understanding of mental illness, as opposed to having experienced mood or thought disorders himself and speaking from his own experience. Still, it's a really valuable book.
Profile Image for Shana Yates.
722 reviews13 followers
October 9, 2017
4.5 stars. Excellent blend of family history, medical history, and mental health history. Professor Hinshaw shines an unflinching light upon his family's history of mental illness, how the stigma attached to such mental illness shaped his family and his own life, and how it drove him into his profession in psychology and as a professor. Hinshaw explains evolving attitudes toward mental illness, the needless forced dichotomy between camps that believed it was either wholly biological or wholly environmental (when any treatment would have to admit dual if not various contributing factors), and the often horrible treatment that was the norm in the past. He explores how the stigma of mental illness meant his family hid the periodic disappearances of his own father, never explaining he was in mental health facilities and his mother never getting the support she needed to weather these absences. Hinshaw himself talks about his own struggles with a mind given to obsession and depression, and how learning about his family's history helped him evaluate his own situation and re-evaluate his father's diagnosis (eventually leading to much more effective treatment). A book that everyone should read as we seek to further demolish the stigma and deconstruct the forced silence that surrounds mental health.
Profile Image for Nancy.
855 reviews
March 5, 2022
I have seen my mother cry exactly once. I was with my dad at the time, it was just the three of us. We didn't know what to do as we sat idly by, as my stoic mother actually wept, this woman who very rarely showed any emotion whatsoever. She quickly regained her composure and we all continued on as if it had never happened, never to speak of it or mention it again.

So I could completely relate when the author told the story about the one time he saw his mother cry. She and his father were dropping him off at college, and his mom was in the front seat of the car. She suddenly became quiet and he realized (from the back seat) that her shoulders were shaking, and then he heard crying sounds coming from her. After a few minutes of silence other than weeping, she stopped, and said simply, "Pardon me. I was overcome." I loved this so much.

Mental illness is not in my biological family, thank you, God.

This book started out strong. But it didn't take long before it changed from a fascinating story about his father's mental illness and how it affected his family into a memoir which was mainly about himself (the author) and all of his accomplishments and his high opinion of himself.

Not recommended.
345 reviews2 followers
February 22, 2018
This is a book about mental illness and how it defines a family. Stephen P. Hinshaw grew up with a father who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but whose family never spoke about the elephant in the room. This book goes into what it was like for him growing up and how it shaped his life into making him want to learn more about mental illness and what could be done for the people and their families who have it.

Today there is still a stigma attached to having some kind of a mental illness. Before, people were warehoused in hospitals that were cruel and did nothing to help those afflicted. Then in the 80s, when budgets were cut, they were suddenly cured and let out in the streets. today, if someone commits a mass murder, it is assumed that he/she has a mental illness.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the subject and those who might have had someone in their family who had a mental illness.
Profile Image for Alicia.
5,732 reviews108 followers
January 8, 2022
I listened to the audiobook which is lovingly read by the author himself however the trajectory of the story was not cleanly laid out and I found myself often confused about where we were in his life (past or present) with the experiences with mental illness in his family. It's a memoir and it's also a social commentary on the stigma of mental illness (and other similar situations like addiction) and there wasn't a clear movement from chapter to chapter as he moved in and out of the stories and his views which led him down a specific path during college and beyond.

So maybe it would have been different in reading it rather than listening to it if there were features in the chapters and text to better ground me in the story, so if I come across it in the library I might skim through it to see if it would be better read than listened to. Sometimes that is the case.
4 reviews
March 9, 2020
A great book for anyone with a family history of mental illness. You are not alone. Stephen P. Hinshaw speaks from an experience that is really not as unique as society would like us to imagine. However due to stigma the words are not shared as often as they should. I appreciated having a window into the world of a child who grew up in a family silently controlled by bipolar. It was inspiring to see tha the child was able to grow up and make it through those experiences without letting them define who he is.
Profile Image for Sandra Morić.
4 reviews
October 25, 2021
While I immensely appreciate the subject matter this book is dealing with, I had a hard time finishing it. The author's motivation and the passion for discovering all the mysteries of mental illness and ways of dealing with the stigma that comes with it is obvious and palpable which I appreciated, but I feel like he could've benefitted from a ghostwriter or a co-writer. He jumps back and forth between subjects and different periods of his life and it all feels very scattered and at times hard to follow.
Profile Image for Chris McCloud.
40 reviews
April 25, 2021
The book is a personal memoir with very little scientific information. The timeline is confusing as the author switches between stories about himself and his father. Some of the earlier stories are later in the book and vice versa. I would have preferred a more sequential timeline if you’re going to switch perspectives and topics so often. There seemed to be a ton of unnecessary info about their careers as well.
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