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No One Cares about Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America
No One Cares about Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America | Ron Powers
37 posts | 27 read | 61 to read
New York Times-bestselling author Ron Powers offers a searching, richly researched narrative of the social history of mental illness in America paired with the deeply personal story of his two sons' battles with schizophrenia. From the centuries of torture of "lunatiks" at Bedlam Asylum to the infamous eugenics era to the follies of the anti-psychiatry movement to the current landscape in which too many families struggle alone to manage afflicted love ones, Powers limns our fears and myths about mental illness and the fractured public policies that have resulted. Braided with that history is the moving story of Powers's beloved son Kevin--spirited, endearing, and gifted--who triumphed even while suffering from schizophrenia until finally he did not, and the story of his courageous surviving son Dean, who is also schizophrenic. A blend of history, biography, memoir, and current affairs ending with a consideration of where we might go from here, this is a thought-provoking look at a dreaded illness that has long been misunderstood.
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Faith3
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Pickpick

A sad read(aren‘t almost all the books I read, though?), but very educational. This book is even more relevant now than five years ago when it was released. Detailing the continuous failings of the world(though America is the focus) to care for some of the most vulnerable people, even I was a bit shocked. Powers ends on a (mostly) hopeful note, but sadly I believe since the writing of this we‘ve gone towards the opposite direction.

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ElizaMarie
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ElizaMarie
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Pickpick

So this book was very very good. It described a lot of harrowing details of mental health care. (Which didn't come as a shock really because my job and all but still) its just sad to hear the actual facts/figures to make these antidotes a reality. I am glad I read it but I hate that it had to be written.

#bookishbingo #AprilBingo #Challenge
#ChapterBreakBingo

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ElizaMarie
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I have heard a bunch of good things about this. And well its in my field of study so I had to get this one!

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orphancovennerd
Pickpick

SO very good. I believe, for my mother, somewhere in the refracted light of a shattered psyche, a mother‘s love remains, but this book shed some light on our cultural attitudes toward schizophrenia.

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bookishbitch
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Pickpick

Heartbreaking for sure. He gives a lot of information about so much relating to mental health issues. The history of asylums, psychiatry, psychiatry denouncers, the pharmaceutical industry, how drugs work in the brain. Plus he shares the story of each of his afflicted sons. I also learned that this country ends up spending more jailing those with mental illness than it would cost to treat our people, most of who are homeless. So very sad.

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Alicia
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Pickpick

Hello Litsy!! I‘ve missed Litsy a lot so I am going to try to be better at posting. I find I come here when trying to decide on books and see what‘s up!
Recently finished this on audio and kindle. I enjoyed it overall but found the authors argument against autonomy for those who are suffering acute crisis very interesting. As a lawyer it‘s an interesting take on a long-standing legal concept. Overall a good read though!

NovelGirl82 You‘re back! I‘ve missed you, my friend!! I hope everything‘s going ok. Is your addy the same? 4y
Alicia @NovelGirl82 hello!! Yes! Still not posting that much but trying! I‘m doing well! And no, I moved! Is yours the same? I will find your email and let you know my new one!! 4y
NovelGirl82 I‘m glad you‘re doing well! I was kind of off the grid for a while, as well. Yes, mine‘s the same. Awesome, yeah, send me your new address! I‘m on my way to vacay now, but I‘ll have something to send when I get home. 😊 4y
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Alicia @NovelGirl82 it‘s crazy how life gets so busy, and social media easily gets overwhelming too.... I hope you have a fabulous vacation!!!! 4y
NovelGirl82 Thank you!! We‘re heading to Colorado for a week of hiking, kayaking, maybe some white water rafting, all of that fun stuff. I need a brain break. Work has been nuts! 4y
Alicia @NovelGirl82 omg that sounds amazing! I bet the weather will be awesome. Colorado sounds wonderful especially since we‘ve officially hit triple digits here... 4y
NovelGirl82 Ugh! We‘re hitting the 90‘s in Lubbock this weekend. Summer is definitely starting now that the storms are finally passing. 4y
Alicia @NovelGirl82 oh good! (Maybe?) 90s doesn‘t seem too bad. Hope you made it to CO safe!!! 4y
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bookishbitch
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"Unless that mad one is a gift of God made flesh." I'm already finding this book so sad. This part I found ironic, given how many of todays "Christians" treat the mentally ill.

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Kathrin
Pickpick

In this book, the author combined two narration lines: the history of mental health in (mostly) America and the struggle of both of his sons with schizophrenic affective disorder. I would have liked this more, if he had decided to go one way or the other. I typically like when oral history is combined with facts, but here it didn‘t work for me. Nevertheless, this book is certainly no waste of time.

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Lindsy
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April‘s TBR. A mix of fantasy and mental health.

#bulletjournal

Geri Dealing with Dragons is so good!!! 5y
Lindsy @Geri I finished it! So good! 5y
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DocBrown
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Mehso-so

This combines historical analysis with family memoir to provide a very poignant personal take on severe mental illness. However, the recollections felt self-indulgent and self-congratulatory. I‘m wondering what this would have read like if written by the author‘s wife instead—or if her voice, and that of their surviving child, had been included more extensively. Still, a sad indictment of our lack of concern and (pun intended) commitment. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Floresj
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Pickpick

A fair share of bias in this book, but it was a great thought provoker. Learned quite a bit about the history or how we treat people with mental illness, policy making for taking care of those with mental illness, and what schizophrenia is and how it develops. The memoir portion of the book was intriguing and broke up the history/policy portion. Kudos to the author for attempting to take on this monstrous topic.

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mrozzz
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Pickpick

The writer's pain is apparent. In the preface he calls to the reader: "I hope you don't 'enjoy' this book. I hope you are wounded by it." There are heavy statistics and Western history of psychiatry/law, interspersed with his memoir (both Powers' boys were schizophrenics).

This is a difficult book to get through but I believe it's important. Time to throw down the stigma and learn as much as we can of the plights of others and fix the system.

kate_reads 🙌🏽 5y
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mrozzz
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Following the Community Mental Health Act of 1963 (signed by Kennedy) and the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1972 (signed by Gov. Reagan) both constructed to unburden federal gov't and taxpayers, countless institutions closed and "crazy people" were forced out into the general population in the thousands where they were discriminated against and went without care, often ending up in jail- their cost of care again part of the federal budget. ?

Riveted_Reader_Melissa Humans are so dumb sometimes, it's it frustrating to read some of these, and yet it's things we need to know to really understand what's going on in our country and change things. 5y
Yeah_I_Read This happened in a city close to where I live. They legit just threw people out on the streets 😔 5y
mrozzz @Riveted_Reader_Melissa 100% the reason I'm reading this book. Need to know our history so we don't repeat it. 5y
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mrozzz @Yeah_I_Read it's horrifying the way we've treated people in this country because of "good intentions". I'm infuriated. At the end of this book I hope I know how to help affect change. 5y
Yeah_I_Read "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" ? 5y
mrozzz @Yeah_I_Read the author used that phrase a couple times..... 5y
IamIamIam I did a report in college on the deinstitutionalization movement in the 70s and it broke my heart and destroyed my faith in the mental health system. I quit college after I had begun pursuing a psychology degree and I'm not one bit sorry. 5y
mrozzz @IamIamIam wow!! Yeah I can't even imagine. Although I'm starting to understand how the system became such a mess 5y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @mrozzz Yes! I've read a few great books in the past year or two for exactly the same reasons, if we don't understand it, we can't fix it! 5y
mrozzz @Riveted_Reader_Melissa 🙌🏻👏🏻👍🏻 5y
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mrozzz
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Do neural links exist between creativity and mental illness?

Plato implied that insanity was one with artistic achievement. Modern neuroscience tends to agree... with many caveats in the way of definitive link.

One obstacle lies in pinning down exactly what creativity is. It's neurological origins and process are as amorphous as those of chronic madness itself. What are it's functions? Why would anyone even think to link it with mental illness?

mrozzz (Cont'd) Gordon Claridge, professor of abnormal psychology at Oxford, says everyone is born with the potential for schizophrenia. The potential may be actualized into mental illness depending on circumstances. Or it may result in enhanced creativity, or even spiritual ecstasy. 5y
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mrozzz
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"History is often whimsical when it is not brutal, and sometimes even when it is."

It should be noted that at the same time Hitler was gaining ground in Germany, calling for his master race, people like Teddy Roosevelt, the Carnegie and Rockefeller families, spurred by eugenics research by Francis Galton (cousin of Darwin) funded the American Eugenics Society in 1926, which called for the end of "social failures"/poor/mentally ill.

AmandaL I learned about this in the book Neurotribes. I also learned that the leading lab in the field of eugenics was located on Long Island not too far from where I grew up. It was shocking! 5y
mrozzz @AmandaL really shocking! But then again reading the context of the time (and the general mistreatment of "idiots" and lunatics) I guess I shouldn't be SO surprised. 5y
Redwritinghood Sounds like an interesting piece of history a lot of us would like to forget. Stacked! 5y
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kathedron It doesn't feel quite right to hit the nice little "like" button for this post, but I wanted to say that I appreciate your posting it. 5y
mrozzz @Redwritinghood it's a fabulous book to learn from 5y
mrozzz @River_Voice I understand! Appreciate your comment. It's a well-written book that enrages me the more I read. 5y
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everlocalwest
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Pickpick

This book isn't perfect and there is of course inherent bias in the blending of memoir and historical accounting, but it is an important work to get conversations started about the treatment people with mental illness receive medically, bureacratically, and from society at large (noting their lack of political might is so necessary). I had to stop listening several times in order to digest this one...a hard road but definitely worth reading.

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JennaAZ
Mehso-so

I had mixed feelings about this. The memoir portion is poignant and well done. The history of mental illness and its treatment in the US and Europe, while important, was a slog for me. I admit that I eventually started skimming those sections--partly because they are so unbelievably sad.

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SaraBeagle
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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Panpan

I was expecting this book to be about the history behind mental illness and how it is dealt with. Instead the book was an ode to the author's sons, both of whom have mental illnesses and one of whom took his own life. The author poorly uses sources and conjecture, and draws conclusions based on his own family and not the world at large. Good if you are looking for a portrait of a grieving father, not great for information or learning.

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heikemarie
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Mehso-so

It was a ride with this one. I cried in the last few chapters, overwhelmed by the stories woven around the author's two sons and overwhelmed by the injustice. There were quite a few times I thought I would bail; self-indulgent asides, sarcasm, turns of phrase. I am not sure I liked the way in which, for the most part, it was a chapter of history with a chapter of memoir. But I'm glad I stuck it out. Pic of a passage I found problematic.

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heikemarie
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Back on the #sizzlinsummerbooks bandwagon with Day 11 - #drinkandbook - representing my (great) home state of Massachusetts with my beverage and slogging through this book. I'm not really in the mood for nonfiction but it's due this week so here we go!

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heikemarie

The Golden State became the national leader in the practice, neutering twenty thousand mental patients between the onset [~1909] and 1979. It was not until September 2015 that the practice was prohibited in a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, following revelations that the state cleansed the ovaries of 148 women between 2006 and 2010.

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mrozzz

A vast and tragic gulf still separates scientific understanding from the incomprehension of people in general, including relatives of the afflicted, taxpayers, and the chainlink network of law enforcement, the courts, and jails. This mass public confusion has resulted in uncounted millions of wasted resources, much of it vaporized due to lost economic production but more of it expended on maintaining punitive institutions such as jails-

mrozzz (Cont'd) which have become the country's largest de facto mental institutions and which specialize, however unwittingly in making an inmate's mental illness worse. Enlightened systems of care would cost Americans far less than the thoughtless incarceration and the resultant recidivism among those who must struggle to manage their actions. America, it seems, is not yet ready for enlightenment. 5y
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amywithbooks
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Pickpick

This book is so important.
Both of the author's sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia at a fairly young age. This book is part memoir, part historical account of mental health care in the last several centuries, and a critique of just how broken our current system of mental health care is in this country. As a mental health professional I greatly appreciate the lengths he went to research and detail the historical pieces of this book. (Con'd)👇🏽

amywithbooks I agree with all of his critiques and I fear things will only get worse for the mentally ill in this country if this atrocious new health care bill somehow gets passed. The memoir side of this book will truly break your heart (I cried a few times) but it is an important story to read and understand because families all over the country deal with this every single day, and our society doesn't do nearly enough to help them. 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (edited) 5y
mrozzz This book is literally in my lap right now!! SO NECESSARY. 5y
amywithbooks @mrozzz isn't it good? It exceeded my expectations in several ways. 5y
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mrozzz Yes! I don't always love the style of writing as much as I am in love with the subject matter of a nonfiction but this author has got it. I feel enormous empathy for the strength he mustered to write this and I hope a lot of people pick it up. (Talking to my nurse roommate we agree that this book or something similar should be taught in high schools.) So brilliant that a layperson like me can hold onto the scientific details. 5y
mrozzz Oh and I just finished the Bell Jar yesterday so my nerves are particularly exposed! 5y
amywithbooks @mrozzz I agree, this topic needs to be an ongoing conversation at all levels- schools, local government, state officials, all the way to the top. Our criminal justice system has broken so many individuals who never should have been in jail to begin with. Prisons have become state hospitals for the mentally ill because no one is interested in providing REAL mental health care to prevent recidivism. It's terrifying! 5y
mrozzz I just posted that quote! (Page 25-26) Same minds. (edited) 5y
mrozzz I couldn't agree more. 5y
MicheleinPhilly I just grabbed this during a Kindle sale. I'm looking forward to it. 5y
amywithbooks @MicheleinPhilly that's how I found it too. Looking forward to hearing what you think! 5y
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mrozzz
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Getting back into this book after completing the Bell Jar is mind-numbing: "I have sometimes imagined my own sanity as resting on the surface of a membrane, a thin and fragile membrane that can easily be ripped open, plunging me into the abyss of madness where I join the tumbling souls whose membranes have likewise been pierced over the ages. When we fall into such psychosis there are no other membranes below to catch and protect us."

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caitfish4311

I just cannot read this book anymore. Too desperately sad. Maybe I'll read it another time, but for now, it is too much.

mrozzz It's intense. I'm also hesitating to keep going. I'm also pleasantly distracted with 3 other books. Maybe one chapter per week/month? 5y
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heikemarie
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I'm in a weird situation where my landlord is selling our building so I am showing my apartment even though we are not moving out of it 🙃. So while I wait for appointments to show up, I am starting this one up!

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amywithbooks
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Next up.

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mrozzz
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This weekend's theme is ? (also good juxtaposition next to a subject so serious):

"This is the book I promised myself I would never write. And promised my wife as well. I have kept that promise for a decade-since our younger son, Keith, hanged himself in our basement, a week before his 21st birthday."

Such an important subject not just to educate oneself about but to pay attention to in our familial circles.

#riotgram #truestories

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caitfish4311

60 pages in, and this book already breaks my heart. My mentally ill peers were burned at the stake, beaten, and tortured hundreds of years ago, and society still fears us. I'm so lucky to live in an age where medications allow me to have a normal life. It still devastates me that we are subject to such stigma. Not a book to read if you aren't prepared to be sad and/or very angry.

Notafraidofwords I'm staying away. I just know that'll it make me angry and upset. 5y
caitfish4311 @Notafraidofwords yeah it is rough. I might have to stop early because it is so upsetting. 5y
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saguarosally
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After listening to this on audiobook, I have to recommend reading it on paper or e-reader. The author's voice is nasal and breathy. It's still interesting, though the author still inserts political opinions in many places.

MyNamesParadise Good to know! That's one of my upcoming audiobooks! Thanks for the heads up! 5y
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everlocalwest
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Tagged book is my current read but this is my TBR ARC #shelfie for #riotgrams ... here's hoping participating in a photo challenge will force me to update my account...

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saguarosally
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Interesting blend of memoir and research. Educational and engaging so far.

MyNamesParadise Good to know!! This is on my long list of audiobooks I have suspended holds on at the library! 6y
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lauralovesbooks1
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Pickpick

In the preface, Powers says "I hope you don't enjoy this book, I hope you are wounded by it" . That covers my reaction. This is a much needed look at mental health in America. Powers' personal story about mental health weaves through this examination of the scientific, cultural, and historic aspects of MH care in the US. It brings home the personal impact of the facts and the figures and serves as a call to action. Continued in comments

lauralovesbooks1 A huge thanks to Powers and his family for their willingness to share their experiences in a public forum. 6y
CatchMyBookBreath Wow- another one for the tbr! Thanks! 6y
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BrainyHeroine
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Hi all! I'm currently working on a mental health article for Scaffolding Magazine. I'd love to talk with you about Stigmas surrounding mental health, treatment, and coping strategies. If you want to chat please email me at brainyheroine@gmail.com. Everything is confidential unless permission is given to use the conversation in my piece. (And yes, I'm reading the tagged book!)

BookishMarginalia I emailed you 🤓 6y
BrainyHeroine @BookishMarginalia I'm reading it now! 6y
BookishMarginalia I'm answering the questions this weekend and sending them to you. 6y
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Librarylady
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I will never get tired of book mail. This is today's delivery. ❤️

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