Nothing to Hide: Mental Illness in the Family

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One in five Americans has a mental illness. Nothing to Hide, a stunning tribute to the millions of families for whom mental illness is a part of everyday life, juxtaposes first-person accounts with beautifully reproduced duotone photographs of forty-four families who defy the stigma of mental illness to speak for themselves about their lives, their illnesses, and their struggles to get well.

Each family in the book is portrayed in two ways: Photographs capture the members together and, often, singly or in pairs. Individual statements—usually one from each person in the family—complete the family picture by telling the story from various points of view. The families, different in many ways, have in common an ongoing struggle with illnesses ranging from schizophrenia and bipolar illness to obsessive compulsive disorder and major depression. These open and candid stories show us that the mentally ill and their families have much in common with the rest of us. They can be found in every community of America, and represent the full range of our economic, racial, and ethnic diversity. Only a small percentage of the mentally ill live with caretakers or in treatment centers.

In her foreword, MacArthur Award–winning author and psychologist Kay R. Jamison calculates the enormous costs of stigmatizing the mentally ill. And an introduction by Kenneth Duckworth, medical director for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, details our current understanding of mental illness. The book concludes with a moving personal essay by Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post journalist David Maraniss.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Based on a travelling photo-text exhibit produced by the non-profit Family Diversity Project, this book features posed but casual portraits and candid first-person accounts of mentally ill people and their families. Beard and Gillespie (both licensed clinical social workers) present 44 families from a wide range of racial, educational, geographic and class backgrounds, as "mental illness knows no boundaries." Portraitist Kaeser's simple black-and-white photographs show the families involved, but are not stirring enough to catch the interest of casual browsers; much more revealing are the interviews. All the subjects here identify themselves as mentally ill, but the words they use to describe their conditions run from the clinical to the vernacular; some "consider worlds like `nuts' and `crazy' to be just as offensive as racial epithets; others use these words with a sense of humor." Some methods for coping with mental illness may come as a surprise, as one schizophrenic woman says, "When I told my mother about my voices, she said, `Just listen to them.' So I would listen to them until they would go away." (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The companion to a traveling photo-text exhibit mounted by the nonprofit agency Family Diversity Projects, this handsome album aims to dispel myths about mental illness and the accompanying stigma. Social workers Beard (retired) and Gillespie (codirector, Family Diversity Projects) compiled the stories of 44 self-selected families whose lives have been changed by mental illness, with Kaeser supplying the fine duotone photos. A range of disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression), ethnic groups, geographic regions, ages, and income levels are represented, and a brief introduction educates the reader about psychiatric disorders. Each story typically includes a narrative by the patient as well as sibling or parental views of the illness. Most of the clearly written essays reflect the view that mental illness is a chemically based brain disorder and that with medication and the support of families and mental health professionals, one can live happily. Each story is surprisingly original and moving, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss's tale of a boy and his impaired uncle is particularly poignant. The book concludes with a useful resource guide. The result is a well-conceived volume that should serve as a unique tool for raising public awareness, though its somewhat specialized and discursive nature probably makes it an optional purchase for most public libraries. [This book is published in conjunction with Family Diversity Projects.-Ed.]-Antoinette Brinkman, M.L.S., Evansville, IN Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565847866
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,048,409
  • Product dimensions: 10.54 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean J. Beard, a licensed clinical social worker, lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Photographer Gigi Kaeser and author/social worker Peggy Gillespie are co-directors of Family Diversity Projects, Inc. in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Jamison, Kay R.; Duckworth, Kenneth
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