After Her Brain Brokeby Susan Inman
From the introduction, Michael
Susan Inman's memoir describes her family's nine year journey to help her younger daughter recover from a catastrophic schizoaffective disorder. "Highly recommended" by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey author of Surviving Schizophrenia and described by him as "...one of the best accounts I have read of serious mental illness as told by a mother."
From the introduction, Michael Kirby, Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Ella Amir, the chair of the Caregiver's Advisory Committee state "Susan's heart wrenching account is an important reminder of the work we still have to do to ensure that people with mental illness and their families get the same treatment and respect that individuals with physical illnesses receive. It is also testimony to the devotion and dedication of families, which sadly often comes at the expense of their own well-being"
Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Stephanie Engel said "Susan Inman has written a much needed book about her experience as a mother coming to grips with her daughter's devastating mental illness. Other parents will recognize and take comfort from her courageous and persistent efforts to learn what is known about psychotic illnesses and their treatment, while holding tenaciously to her own personal knowledge of what it means to be a loving, humane and thoughtful parent. Believing in one's own instincts as a parent in the face of expertise, myths and prejudices is a monumental task, and Ms Inman does it with grace and conviction."
Emergency room physician and international best selling author, Dr. Daniel Kalla said "After Her Brain Broke is a harrowing, heart wrenching, and ultimately triumphant story of one family's struggle with a child's mental illness. It's impossible not to be moved by Susan Inman's honest and touching account of her daughter's sudden descent into mental health turmoil and the family's long hard battle to overcome it. A must read for families coping with a mental illness, and a wonderful eye-opener for those of us lucky enough not to have been affected."
- Bridgeross Communications
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I ordered this book, not because I thought I would agree with it, but because there is actually another mother out there who has written about the mental health diagnosis of her child, which in this case is kickstarted by Paxil for some kind of depression/difficulties, thus raising bipolar, which then becomes schizoaffective, schizophrenia and OCD. With that many diagnoses, I would have lost my faith in psychiatry much earlier than I actually did. Susan Inman has not lost faith in psychiatry, only with the kind of psychiatry that doesn't come with a prescription. If you are a person, like I am, who believes that schizophrenia is not a brain disease and that medications are ruinous in the long run, then this book is not for you. I am dismayed about how heavily the author relies on E. Fuller Torrey. Many people feel that the references cited in this book, including E. Fuller Torrey, Dr. Nancy Andreasen, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have contributed to the rise in the overuse of antipsychotic medications today. It would come as no surprise to anyone since E. Fuller Torrey endorses this book, that Susan Inman fully subscribes to the broken brain theory of mental illness. The title strikes me as an homage to psychiatrist Dr. Nancy Andreasen's book, The Broken Brain. Now even Dr. Andreasen has started to warn about the dangers of long term use of antipsychotic medication, something she helped promulgate. That's no help to the people who have suffered under this regime, but hey, again, that's how badly served people are by psychiatry. Susan Inman, despite the ten different medications her daughter has been on in about as many years, still clings to the idea that a better drug will be invented. I have a hard time with Susan Inman's other main point (and Dr. Torrey's): That the family background has nothing to do with a mental illness. She seems unwilling to even remotely entertain the idea that maybe there is something in the family environment beyond just a medical diagnosis of bipolar and epilepsy in distant relatives, that might have something to do with the rage and suspicion that her daughter spat back at her. She is upset with anybody who seems to even hint at this. Like it or not, most people labeled mentally ill, I have found, do believe it is their family that contributed to their breakdown. (People don't listen to mental patients' actual complaints.) No, the problem is with her daughter's biochemistry, she asserts. The family is not dysfunctional, her daughter is mentally ill. She bristles at the suggestion of Expressed Emotion, as she reasons that she has been very careful not to criticize her daughter. Expressed Emotion is a concept that is much larger than the family criticizing (or not) their relative. It is also the emotion around being told that you are mentally ill and that you must accept your sickness. Organizations like NAMI do this very well. How can someone get well if they are constantly told they are sick and that they must accept that they are sick or they won't get well? That is like a school teacher telling a child that they are stupid, but if they want to do well, they must first admit their stupidity. This approach is discouraged in every other area except mental health, apparently. I gave this book three stars, because it's a good read, but if you want to get over your mental health diagnosis an excellent place to start is Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic.