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In the Shadow of Madness
     

In the Shadow of Madness

5.0 6
by Dolores Brandon, Paul Herron (Editor), Marilyn Brandon (Photographer), Paul Herron, Marilyn Brandon (Photographer)
 
Nearly five-million people are diagnosed with mental illness in the United States, and for each one of them, there are several who are profoundly affected: a father perhaps, a mother, a sister or brother, son or daughter. In fact, one of every five families in this country are afflicted by mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression.

Overview

Nearly five-million people are diagnosed with mental illness in the United States, and for each one of them, there are several who are profoundly affected: a father perhaps, a mother, a sister or brother, son or daughter. In fact, one of every five families in this country are afflicted by mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression. Their story of living in the midst of a loved one's illness has been largely untold, until now.

Dolores Brandon, whose father was bipolar, has courageously undertaken the responsibility of being a voice by writing the powerful and honest memoir In the Shadows of Madness. What sets In the Shadow of Madness apart is its nonjudgmental, loving approach. Brandon humanizes mental illness, setting aside stigma, forsaking bitterness, and acknowledging her scars. The unique lyric form of the book employs oral history, poetry, dramatic scenes, music to tell the story of a young girl growing up in the fifties and sixties with her steadily deteriorating father.

With tenderness and compassion, Brandon honors the "quiet desperation" of this average family's ordeal, and thus speaks to countless others who have shared similar fates. Dolores Brandon, a veteran artist in several media, uses her abilities as a poet and storyteller to bring her tale to life. Writer Anais Nin once told Brandon, "...you are an actress as well as a poet: there is great power and feeling in your expression." Indeed, Brandon has accomplished what Nin envisioned as the writer's responsibility: to say what cannot be said. Readers will be transported to Brandon's world and witness the forever entwined sweetness and bitterness of her family's journey, taking with them a new and deeper understanding of what is still feared in our society. Family members of those in the grip of mental illness, doctors, psychologists, and lovers of good storytelling will find In the Shadow of Madness a valuable addition to their libraries.

For too long there has been a void in literature from this point of view, but now there is a book to pave the way. This detailed and poignant story will be appreciated for its intimate and unveiled look as well as its artistic achievement. Response to the book has been extremely positive: as one psychologist put it, "the pain and grief expressed can be overwhelming: Brandon speaks of her father's illness, of episodes of great violence that illness caused, how her mother stayed with him "in sickness and health". The author, as the eldest of three girls, carried burdens and suffering more than can be imagined in a lifetime. She tells of upheavals, the blood and tears. With this book, Brandon molds life instead of allowing life to mold her. To transform personal experience into an artistic work requires talent as well as force of personality. This book is a triumph.

About The Author
Dolores Brandon has a vast array of experience in the arts. During the 1970s' and 80's she played many leading lady roles on the off-Broadway stages in New York City. She produced a narrative video entitled Remembrance of Things Anais, and has done a number of radio broadcast readings from literature. For more than a decade she has worked as a freelance broadcast journalist covering the arts and culture: her reports have been heard on public radio at both local and national levels. Most recently her rich and beautiful voice was heard via the program Radio Works which carried her reading excerpted passages from In the Shadow of Madness.

Editorial Reviews

Rochelle L. Holt
Yes, I dance in the shadows of that great tree that is you and Daddy alludes to madness, i.e. Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, etc. In this case, the victim is an average Canadian salesman with lyrical aspirations. Dolores Brandon is one of his daughters, deeply affected throughout life by her father's mental disorder.

"Dad's illness was his most resounding legacy . . . Every day of our family life required a personal adjustment to his overwhelming, darkly marvelous presence."

This is not a bitter testimony. It is written in a style that alternates between free verse and dialogue of a play, befitting the author who at one time was an actress. Here, she purges herself of the past as in Antigone, while paving the way for greater understanding of what is still feared in our society. Mental illness is the last taboo, the secret that must never be admitted or shared, whether one is victim or part of the scene, notwithstanding available information on the subject.

Alvin Brandon suffered with a manic-depressive disorder in the 50s and 60s when medications and methods of treatment in hospitals were primitive. Shock treatments are still in vogue today despite a variety of prescriptive medications more readily available.

The second half of the memoir is more poignant, including poems by the father and the author as prelude to her second marriage, this time to an African-American man, following her father's death with cancer. "Mum refused to see me or speak." Such estrangement endured for a decade before private mother/daughter meetings began.

When Ms. Brandon met Ana�s Nin, "She became the mother of my soul. In a letter she wrote: 'I am adopting you to replace your mother. I love you both for transcending absurd boundaries.'" After a score of years, the mother finally met the author's husband, and a new, more favorable relationship began for the three parties.

Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler, Executive Director of the The Object Relations Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in New York, says, "The reader can follow the path of grief and rebirth along with the author and find a language to express their own individual grief and love process."

In the Shadow of Madness took immense courage to create. In many ways, the reader feels as though he or she is listening to psychoanalytic tapes of a patient in therapy. However, in this case, we are able to experience carthartic joy for Ms. Brandon's rebirth despite a lifetime of suffering. She is to be commended for telling such an honest story to enlighten everyone regarding the difficulties any family has and the scars they bear when one member is severely mentally ill, especially a parent.

The artwork for the cover by Marilyn Brandon is reminiscent of Renate Druks' art for some of Ana�s Nin's own books; it's modernist and surreal at the same time, quite stunning.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780965236454
Publisher:
Sky Blue Press
Publication date:
04/01/2000
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
5.51(w) x 8.66(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Karen Malpede
Dolores Brandon has written a sensitive, yet harrowing, exploration of what it was like growing up in the fifties and sixties with a father in the grip of mental illness. She speaks a spare poetic language, full of compassion for all the characters in this compelling memoir.
Susan Kavaler-Adler
From Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler, Executive Director, The Object Relations Institute For Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York, NY. Author of The Compulsion to Create (Routledge, 1993) and The Creative Mystique (Routledge, 1996)

Dolores Brandon's book is a unique study in the poetry and intuitive psychological engagement of personal memoir. Brandon's in-depth emotional capacities are highlighted in the overall process of mourning for the losses suffered by those she loves and yet yearns to separate from. The reader can follow the path of grief and rebirth along with the author and find a language to express their own individual grief and love process.

Maryanne Raphael
Dolores' style is unique in that it reads as smoothly as any prose I have ever read. In fact the poetry seems to rush the story along and the images make the action come alive on the pages. This bool is as captivating and memorable as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. All of the characters are many faceted. We have mixed emotions, changing feelings towards all of them.

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In the Shadow of Madness 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
IN THE SHADOW OF MADNESS is a powerful book, a poignant tale of a young girl coming of age in the shadow of her beloved father's insanity. Although I love poetry, this is the first time I have been able to read a 200 page story without being slowed down. Long poetry always seems to call me to notice the exact choice of words, the similes and metaphors. Dolores' style is unique in that it reads as smoothly as any prose I have ever read. In fact the poetry seems to rush the story along and the images make the action come alive on the pages. This book is as captivating and memorable as A TREE GOES IN BROOKLYN. All of the characters are many faceted. We have mixed emotions, changing feelings towards all of them. Anecdotes capture our thoughts. Speaking of a man who used to fall asleep smoking in his bed, Dolores wrote,' a front page news story reported Bob was one of two found dead on a fire at Queen Elizabeth Hospital He was a patient there. Seems he wandered off his Ward to visit a woman in Intensive Care. She was on oxygen. He lit a cigarette. She and he, the whole room, all blew to smithereens!' Of her father's poetry she wrote,' It's not that his poems weren¿t half good. They all sprang from the heart. But, they were written as the wave crested in a grandiose fury. And the call they put out for harmony stood in stark contrast to the aggressive force he asked us to indulge.' The photos are like the ones we all keep hidden away and seeing them we know for sure this book is about our family, our friends or the people down the road. This compelling story, beautifully told will stay with its readers forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolores Brandon has written a jewel. Using poetry, oral history and prose she communicates with depth and tension the joys and travails of her life with her family, most notably her father. Before manic depression or bi-polar disease was part of our collective vocabulary, Dolores experience spanned her father's ups and downs from everyday victories to down right fear. However, in this book Dolores manages to give each character a clear and resonant voice. She allows us to read her father's poetry and listen to her mother lullabies. She has also been able to forgive her father and understand her mother, which is something that eludes many of us. I was particularly fond of the way she brought to life the whole experience of growing up in the 50's. I was close to tears when I finished this book. Not from sadness but from that sense of communion that we always share but seldom tap into. It took courage, insight and understanding to write this book. I hope there will be more from Dolores Brandon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dolores Brandon has written a memoir of clear-eyed courage and enormous compassion. In a vivid, organic style that brings together poetry and monologue, memories sweet and bitter, Ms. Brandon tells an often harrowing tale of growing up with a father in the grip of mental illness and a mother incapable of protecting herself or her children from the devastating fallout. In a unique narrative rich with evocative images and finely tuned, lyrical passages, the author unfolds for the reader the shifting, volatile world in which she grew up and from which she emerged with the passionate need to create, to act, to write, to dream. It is an arduous but heartening birth out of chaos and pain, much like that experienced by Brandon¿s mentor, Anais Nin. In the Shadow of Madness is remarkable for its perception and candor; that candor invites her readers into the very inner corners of her life, and by example, frees them to explore disturbing areas of their own psyches.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once started, I couldn't stop - Ms. Brandon's content and writing style is reflective of her deep mind and emotional capacity. A truly unique memoir that leaves the reader reflective, enlightened - with love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found Dolores Brandon¿s account lyrical and touching. It isn¿t often we think of this kind of memoir as coming out of Canada, or perhaps that we think of Canada as being a fertile ground for this kind of reminisence. Brandon¿s account is a lovely, touching eye opener.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully crafted memoir about a woman's life growing up with a father who was caught in the throes of manic-depressive illness. Her relationships with her mother, sisters and extended family, as well as her beloved husband, are vividly portrayed. The author has an elegant, eloquent and heart-wrenching writing style, incorporating poetry, prose and fragments of songs written in her native French-Canadian tongue. I was moved greatly by this book and recommend it highly!