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

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

4.4 18
by Pete Earley
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley had written extensively about the criminal justice system. But it was only when his own son-in the throes of a manic episode-broke into a neighbor's house that he learned what happens to mentally ill people who break a law.

This is the Earley family's compelling story, a troubling look at bureaucratic apathySee more details below

Overview

Former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley had written extensively about the criminal justice system. But it was only when his own son-in the throes of a manic episode-broke into a neighbor's house that he learned what happens to mentally ill people who break a law.

This is the Earley family's compelling story, a troubling look at bureaucratic apathy and the countless thousands who suffer confinement instead of care, brutal conditions instead of treatment, in the "revolving doors" between hospital and jail. With mass deinstitutionalization, large numbers of state mental patients are homeless or in jail-an experience little better than the horrors of a century ago. Earley takes us directly into that experience-and into that of a father and award-winning journalist trying to fight for a better way.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Suffering delusions from bipolar disorder, Mike Earley broke into a stranger's home to take a bubble bath and significantly damaged the premises. That Mike's act was viewed as a crime rather than a psychotic episode spurred his father, veteran journalist Pete Earley (Family of Spies), to investigate the "criminalization of the mentally ill." Earley gains access to the Miami-Dade County jail where guards admit that they routinely beat prisoners. He learns that Deidra Sanbourne, whose 1988 deinstitutionalization was a landmark civil rights case, died after being neglected in a boarding house. A public defender describes how he-not always happily-helps mentally ill clients avoid hospitalization. Throughout this grim work, Earley uneasily straddles the line between father and journalist. He compromises his objectivity when for most of his son's ordeal-Mike gets probation-he refuses to entertain the possibility that the terrified woman whose home Mike trashed also is a victim. And when, torn between opposing obligations, he decides not to reveal to a source's mother that her daughter has gone off her medications, he endangers the daughter's life and betrays her mother. Although this is mostly a sprawling retread of more significant work by psychologist Fuller Torrey and others, parents of the mentally ill should find solace and food for thought in its pages. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Like Paul Raeburn in Acquainted with the Night: A Parent's Quest To Understand Depression and Bipolar Disorder in His Children, former Washington Post reporter Earley (Witsec: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program) penetrates the American mental health system in an effort to discover how he can save his son, Mike, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after suffering a breakdown during his senior year in college. Mike's situation escalates when, delusional, he breaks into a home to take a bubble bath and runs up against the criminal justice system. Appalled by the barbarous illogicality of laws that allow mentally ill people like Mike to be punished yet languish untreated, Earley visits prisons, courthouses, hospitals, and assisted-living facilities to explore his options and to expose "mental health madness." In particular, he criticizes the deinsitutionalization movement that released masses of the mentally ill from hospitals and abandoned them to the streets. He also advocates the reform of laws that permit mentally ill patients to refuse treatment and/or medication, even though illness impedes their ability to make competent decisions regarding their own health. Highly recommended for all public and university collections.-Lynne Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Seasoned investigative journalist Earley (Super Casino, 2000, etc.) splices together the story of his son's alarming brush with the law and a report on our society's criminalization of the mentally ill. The author was so upset by what happened to his son after he was arrested for breaking into a house while in a delusional state that he set out to discover just how the mental-health system works in America today. What he found is that the new insane asylums are prisons, neither safe nor humane places. In Miami-the city was chosen for Earley's investigation because it has a high percentage of mentally ill residents-the author was given wide access to the Miami-Dade County Jail. He spent a year there observing how mentally ill prisoners are treated. He followed their cases through the courts and traced their progress once they were back on the streets. Earley also interviewed a Miami judge, lawyers, psychiatrists, patient advocates and the founder of a halfway house. He draws a bleak and disturbing picture. The closing of state mental hospitals that began in the 1960s left most patients homeless and without access to the community services that were supposed to form their new safety net, he reports; by the 1990s, jails and prisons were being swamped by psychotic prisoners. Society has gone backwards in it handling of the mentally ill, he argues, and we must develop modern long-term treatment facilities where they can be helped and kept safe. The author's own frustrating experience with his son convinced him that commitment laws are heavily biased in favor of patients' civil rights and against intervention and treatment; he urges bringing doctors and patients' loved ones back into thedecision-making process. An urgent plea for change that gains force by putting a human face on a sociological problem.
From the Publisher
[A] clarion call for change and justice, and an enthralling portrait of a father who refused to surrender. (Bebe Moore Campbell)

Takes readers on a harrowing personal journey... (Senator Pete V. Domenici [R-N.M.] and Nancy Domenici)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440628818
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/03/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
110,991
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
[A] clarion call for change and justice, and an enthralling portrait of a father who refused to surrender. (Bebe Moore Campbell)

Takes readers on a harrowing personal journey... (Senator Pete V. Domenici [R-N.M.] and Nancy Domenici)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >