Accounts of Mental Illness
the Edge of Darkness. New York: Bantam Doubleday, 1994.
This book is not
exactly a biography in that it does
not focus on a particular person with mental illness. Rather, it
information about depression and interview comments from a large number
of famous people who have experienced depression. These include Jules
Kitty Dukakis, Rona Barrett, Rod Steiger, and Joan Rivers. The author,
daughter of Walter Cronkite, also discusses her own experience of
and her concerns about how disclosure of her disorder might affect her
career as a journalist.
Earley, Pete. (2006). Crazy:
A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness. New York: Berkley
reporter for the Washington Post, Pete Earley, tells
of his experience raising a son
with bipolar disorder. After his son’s run-in with the law during a
episode, Earley began to learn about the criminal justice
system’s treatment of
people with mental illness. He writes
about the dilemma faced by those with mental illness who break the law
given jail time instead of treatment.
S.P. (2002). The Years of Silence
are Past: My Father's
Life with Bipolar Disorder. New York: Cambridge University Press.
This is a narrative about a man's
struggle with Bipolar Disorder written from the perspective of his son.
It recounts the 75 years of this father's life, and his father's
experience of several misdiagnoses. Intertwined are themes of
self-image, causes of mental disorders, accurate diagnoses, and
Virginia. Rescuing Patty Hearst.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003.
Hearst is an unflinching
the dark days during which Holman's family was held hostage by her
mother's delusions and the
country was beset by the folly of the Watergate era. It is a startling
memoir of a daughter's harrowing sojourn in the prison of her mother's
finally, it lingers as a moving portrait of a young woman defined by
her mother's illness - until at last she rekindles a family love that
had lost its way.
Henry, R. In Search of Derwent Lees. Victoria,
This book presents information about
and examples of the artwork of
Lees, a successful
Australian artist who also experienced severe mental illness and spent
his final years in an asylum.
Relatively little information is provided about his mental illness, and
his life history is not described
in great detail. The emphasis is on his art, with numerous
of his paintings.
Margaret. My sister's keeper. New
York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992.
Ms. Lyden, an award-winning National Public Radio
describes growing up with a mother with bipolar disorder. The book
not only the difficulties of having a mother with this kind of illness,
but also conveys how such an illness need not diminish love between
of two remarkable sisters and
their bond, as they make sense of their relationship in the face of a
devastating and heart-wrenching disease--mental illness. Margaret
Moorman cannot make her sister's mental illness go away, but she
gradually comes to accept it and to understand its harrowing effects.
Sylvia. A Beautiful Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
This book tells the story of John Nash, a mathematics
prodigy who was awarded a 1993 Nobel Prize in Economics for his
early contributions, but whose work was interupted for more than twenty
years by schizophrenia. The story of his life, his accomplishments, and
his struggle with and recovery from schizophrenia are told in moving
The book is being made into a motion picture as well, starring Russell
Jay. Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, and Survival.
talks about his close relationship with a brother who developed
inspiring and continuing commitment to his brother, Robert, despite the
by both his
brother's severe illness and the inadequate treatment system they
Penney, D. &
Stastny, P. (2008).The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases
from a State
Attic. New York: Bellevue Literary
Willard Psychiatric Center
in upstate New York,
which was closed in 1995, housed over 54,000 mental health patients
126 years in operation. After its closing, over 400
suitcases filled with
patients’ belongings were discovered in the hospital’s attic. The
held everything from letters to loved ones and photographs, to
china sets. The Lives They Left Behind
portrays the lives of 10 of these former residents by piecing together
records and the contents of the suitcases they left behind.
P. (2004). Acquainted with the
Night. New York: Broadway Books.
Raeburn's memoir of his family's struggle
to deal with the mental illness of his children. His son was diagnosed
with Bipolar Disorder and his daughter with depression. His account
describes his struggle to hold his family together and to use the
resources available to him to save his children's lives.
Clea. Mad house. New York:
Penguin Books, 1997.
The author writes of the dark
years where here brother and sister were dealing with Schizophrenia.
The author also interviewed with hundreds of
other siblings of the mentally ill and experts in the field of
treatment as well. She confronts the issues healthy siblings face
both in childhood and as adults, from feelings of guilt at being well,
to overcompensation within the family, to the concern
of passing on mental illness to a child.
Melanie. Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder.
New York: Penguin Putnam, 1997.
written by a reporter and graduate of Harvard, recounts the
leading to the
of two Harvard students--one Ethiopian, the other Vietnamese.
about mental illness, the increasing depression of one of the students
played a significant
role in the
tragic outcome. The book documents remarkable gaps in the ability
of even prestigious
universities like Harvard to meet the mental health needs of its
the importance of sensitivity to cultural differences in responding to
the mental and
needs of students from different backgrounds.
Simon. The Professor and the Madman. New York:
is the story of the making of
Oxford English Dictionary and of Dr. W.C. Minor, who was one of the
prolific contributors to this massive document. Dr. Minor
thousands of words, definitions, and examples of word usage to assist
editor of the dictionary in completing his monumental task in the early
1900s. Minor was also an inmate of the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic
Asylum, where he had resided for over 20 years and from which he sent
contributions to Dr. James Murray, Editor of the dictionary. The
Professor and the Madman demonstrates how individuals with even the
severe forms of mental illness may make (and have made) valuable