Day the Voices Stopped: A Schizophrenic's Journey from Madness to Hope

Overview

For thirty-two years Ken Steele lived with the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia, tortured by inner voices commanding him to kill himself, ravaged by the delusions of paranoia, barely surviving on the ragged edges of society. In this powerful and inspiring story, Steele tells the story of his hard-won recovery from schizophrenia and how activism and advocacy helped him regain his sanity and go on to give hope and support to so many others like him.His recovery began with a small but intensely dramatic moment....

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New York, NY 2001 Hard cover First edition. 1st printing. Complete number line. New in new dust jacket. Hard cover. Fine/Fine. 1st ed. 1st printing. Collectible. Photos. Sewn ... binding. Cloth over boards. 272 p. Audience: General/trade. For 32 years Ken Steele lived with the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia, tortured by inner voices, ravaged by delusions of paranoia, barely surviving on the edges of society. In this powerful story, Steele tells of his hard-won recovery from schizophrenia and how activism and advocacy helped him regain his sanity and go on to give hope and support to others like him. PHOTOS. Read more Show Less

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NY 2001 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Pristine. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Collectible. Packed In Bubble wrap. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. ... 272 p. Audience: General/trade. Gift Quality. Pristine. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Collectible. Packed In Bubble wrap. Read more Show Less

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Overview

For thirty-two years Ken Steele lived with the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia, tortured by inner voices commanding him to kill himself, ravaged by the delusions of paranoia, barely surviving on the ragged edges of society. In this powerful and inspiring story, Steele tells the story of his hard-won recovery from schizophrenia and how activism and advocacy helped him regain his sanity and go on to give hope and support to so many others like him.His recovery began with a small but intensely dramatic moment. One evening in the spring of 1995, shortly after starting on Risperdal, a new antipsychotic medicine, he realized that the voices that had tormented him for three decades had suddenly stopped. Terrified but also empowered by this new freedom, Steele rose to the challenge of creating a new life. Steele went on to become one of the most vocal advocates of the mentally ill, earning the respect not only of patients and families but also of professionals and policymakers all over America through his tireless devotion to a cause that transformed his life and that of countless others.The Day the Voices Stopped will endure as Ken Steele's testament for all who struggle with this heartbreaking disease.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In 1999, New York Times readers were struck by a story about Ken Steele, a 51-year-old Manhattan man who had almost single-handedly launched an empowerment project that registered 28,000 previously disenfranchised voters. Actually, that was only half the miracle. The other half was that for a period of 32 years, Steele had suffered heroically under the battering of schizophrenia. The story of his disease and his recovery is truly poignant.
Newsday
This powerful advocate for the mentally ill has an important story to tell - and anyone who has had a serious mental illness will hear the resounding fear and hope that springs from these poignant pages.
Psychology Today
...offers readers a brilliant look into the darkest of places.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the age of 14, mental health advocate Steele battled the ruthless barrage of voices and hallucinations of schizophrenia. His arduous 32-year struggle is chronicled in this memoir, written with journalist Berman (What Am I Doing in a Step-Family?). Despite his parents' initial reluctance to admit the seriousness of his disorder, Steele, who died last year of heart failure, understood early on that his condition was pushing him ever closer to suicide. Only reading and writing provided him a haven, offering him flights of imagination that temporarily quieted the voices. Instead of seeking proper treatment, his family allowed him to drop out of school and stay idle at home, where he only got sicker. He tried to move to New York from Connecticut; to attend theater school, only to end up in a mental ward, the first of several hospitalizations. Steele then descended into alcoholism, homelessness and exploitation by male hustlers. After AA meetings, drugs, shock treatments and repeated hospitalizations, he eventually triumphed over the illness to fashion a new life. Many readers will be emotionally drained by the time he becomes a nationally recognized spokesman for the rights of the mentally ill and the publisher of New York City Voices, a publication heralding that cause. Steele's sobering yet resonant and inspiring narrative refuses to sugarcoat the tremendous force of this disorder and its stubborn resistance to recovery. (May) Forecast: Advertising in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times should help this book find its audienceschizophrenics and their families, policy makers, mental health professionals and anyone who cares about the mentally ill. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
The dictionary defines schizophrenia as "a psychotic disorder characterized by withdrawal from reality, delusions, hallucinations, and disintegration of the personality." But what does it really mean to be a schizophrenic? This moving, first-hand account was written for the layperson by Ken Steele, who suffered from schizophrenia for 32 years. He describes his initial diagnosis at age 14, the subsequent withdrawal of support by his family, the nature of the voices continually prodding him to take his own life, his life on the streets, his experiences with the "revolving doors" of our mental health system, his personal haven in books and libraries, and his struggle with medication until "the day the voices stopped," when he was finally stabilized on Risperdal, one of the new generation of drugs called atypical anti-psychotic medications. Ken, a "survivor," shares his pathos, frustration, and ultimate success in this memoir in order to give hope to other schizophrenics and their families. Until his death from heart failure in 2000, he was an advocate, a nationally known speaker for the mentally ill, promoting their right to vote through his initiative, the Voter Empowerment Project. He also worked as newsletter editor and support group founder at the Park Slope Center for Mental Health in New York City. Because of the alarming number of schizophrenics in our society and the fears and misconceptions related to this disease, this excellent, easy-to-understand book should be required reading for every teen and adult. Category: Biography & Personal Narrative. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Perseus, Basic Books, 258p., ,Lewiston, ME
Library Journal
In 1995, Steele, a schizophrenic, began taking a new antipsychotic medication. Suddenly, the voices that had tormented him for 32 years were silenced. In this posthumous memoir (Steele died of heart failure last year), he describes the paranoia and delusions that afflicted him as he wandered across the United States. He also chronicles his post-medication triumphs: after reading a politician's letter about how the mentally ill don't vote, Steele went on to become a leading activist for the mentally ill, organizing a voter registration campaign in halfway houses and treatment centers. As publisher of New York City Voices: A Consumer Journal for Mental Health Advocacy, Steele encouraged those with mental illnesses to share their stories, and some of these personal accounts are included in the book's final section. Through Steele's eyes, readers see the changes in psychiatric treatment from incarceration in mental asylums to integration into the community made possible by a support network of halfway houses, club houses, clinics, and advocacy programs. In an afterword, Steele discusses recent changes in mental health policy and treatment and outlines future needs if the mentally ill are to become fully functioning members of society. This remarkable, well-written, and inspiring memoir is recommended for all collections. Lucille Boone, San Jose P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Steele (1948-2000) was an advocate for the rights of the mentally ill. Here is his own story of suffering for 32 years from the symptoms of schizophrenia, tortured by inner voices commanding him to kill himself, ravaged by the delusions of paranoia, barely surviving on the ragged edges of society. The day the voices stopped was the beginning of his recovery. Berman writes widely on family relations. The memoir has no index or bibliography. The CiP data shows the subtitle as A Schizophrenic's Journey From Madness to Hope. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
An astonishing, terrifying first-person tour through the schizophrenic's world, from Steele (late advocate for the rights of the mentally ill). When he was 14, the voices came to Steele: "Kill yourself. . . . Set yourself on fire." For the next 32 years, these voices plagued him. You're no good, they would tell him, you should never have been born, it's time for you to go. The voices overrode the sounds around him. He would hear patches of conversations people were trying to have with him, but mostly it was just the evil, derisive voices suggesting ways for him to kill himself. Not that he didn't try. He landed in one psychiatric hospital, halfway house, and institution after another—from all of which he would either escape or be discharged or evicted. Abandoned by his family, he lived on the street, where he turned tricks or drank himself silly until the voices got the better of him and he had to go back to the hospital. He received little counseling but plenty of medication—not to mention long stays in a straitjacket. Still, there were those times when he could function, when he held simple jobs, and he had resources enough to seek help during the bleakest hallucinatory times. Then, one day, at the Park Slope Center for Mental Health, he received not just counseling but Risperdal, an atypical anti-psychotic medication. The voices stopped: It is a remarkably powerful moment in the story, written with a combination of awe, appreciation, and grace—the perfect antidote to the grim, urgent tone of the earlier pages. Steele went on to become an important proponent of help for the mentally ill before he died of a heart attack lastt October—a scant four years afterthe voices were silenced. A mind-boggling account that will change the way readers respond to mental illness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465082261
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/17/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 257
  • Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Steele was until his death from heart failure on October 7, 2000 a nationally recognized advocate for the rights of the mentally ill and the publisher of New York City Voices: A Consumer Journal for Mental Health Advocacy. He was also editor of The Reporter, the monthly newsletter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill/NYC-Metro chapter and served as spokesperson for the National Mental Health Association's "Partners in Care."

Claire Berman is the author of several books on family relations, including Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents and Making It as a Stepparent. She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Foreword, by Stephen Goldfinger, M.D.

Prologue

1. Descent into Madness

2. Further into the Abyss

3. The Big City

4. Welcome to Bedlam

5. Caught in the Revolving Door

6. Closing Other Doors

7. Second Chances

8. The Day the Voices Stopped

9. Other People's Stories

Afterword: What Needs to be Done

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2001

    The last amazing gift of a great man

    It reads like a Stephen King novel, opening with a pinnacle of life reveled in, and proceeding to draw you quickly and deeply into a world of gruesome horror, murderous voices, and personal pain so vivid it takes your breath away. In truth, the most frightening aspect of this book is that it is not a work of fiction, but rather the last great gift of an amazing man. I knew how difficult it was for Ken to retell, and hence relive, so many of the episodes that made up his 32-year odyssey battling the constant haranguing of the delusional voices that tried so desperately to steal him from us. I did not know, however, how his book would so finely detail the suffering, pain and anguish that made up so much of his life. Over the summer of 2000 as he was reliving his past, Ken, in a weak and tired voice would tell me, 'Joseph, you have no idea how hard this is.' He was right. I cannot for a moment fathom what it would be like to spend more than 3 decades resisting voices steadily outlining all your suicide options, and cannot imagine the fortitude required to relive it so that it could be shared around the world. Perseverance is high on the abundant list of things one takes away from Ken's story. But there is another that really struck, and stuck. More than 30 years of living a life that virtually no one understood resulted in a man of near-complete understanding. Not in the sense of patience, for many know how little of that Ken possessed (he was making up for 30 years of lost time), but how the global and societal view of mental illness had led him to the lowest depths a person can reach, how it could be changed, and what he did to ensure his experiences were not those of others who follow. Six months have passed, and I still think of him every day. While reading his book, there were times I could hear his voice. That wasn't what gave me the chills. I got those when I read several passages in which Ken described efforts to bring about change he hoped would occur in his lifetime. He died six days after finishing the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2001

    Hope For Recovery

    I knew Ken Steele for two years as his young assistant. I witnessed the pain he went through while writing this book, reliving a journey filled with mistreatment and neglect. Like Ken, I am a paranoid schizophrenic. He gave me hope when I was hopeless in the mental hospital and asked me to work for him. The voices he heard were different from the voices I heard that no one else could hear, trademarks of our mental illness. Steele¿s voices commanded him to do the unspeakable. They were with him night and day for over 30 years, most of his life. It was remarkable the day his voices stopped because he wasted no time and began his work as a legendary advocate for us, the mentally ill. The Day the Voices Stopped is a personal and realistic account of what it's like to live with schizophrenia. It's inspiring for all readers as we can see through Ken Steele that the disease is treatable and recovery is possible.

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