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Publisher's Summary

Families are riddled with untold secrets. But Stephen Hinshaw never imagined that a profound secret was kept under lock and key for 18 years within his family - that his father's mysterious absences, for months at a time, resulted from serious mental illness and involuntary hospitalizations. From the moment his father revealed the truth, during Hinshaw's first spring break from college, he knew his life would change forever.

Hinshaw calls this revelation his "psychological birth". After years of experiencing the ups and downs of his father's illness without knowing it existed, Hinshaw began to piece together the silent, often terrifying history of his father's life - in great contrast to his father's presence and love during periods of wellness. This exploration led to larger discoveries about the family saga, to Hinshaw's correctly diagnosing his father with bipolar disorder, and to his full-fledged career as a clinical and developmental psychologist and professor.

©2017 Stephen P. Hinshaw (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This heartfelt memoir shares insights into the effects of mental illness on all involved." (Booklist)

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Insightful, heartbreaking, and important

4.5 stars. Excellent blend of family history, medical history, and mental health history. Professor Hinshaw shines an unflinching light upon his family's history of mental illness, how the stigma attached to such mental illness shaped his family and his own life, and how it drove him into his profession in psychology and as a professor. Hinshaw explains evolving attitudes toward mental illness, the needless forced dichotomy between camps that believed it was either wholly biological or wholly environmental (when any treatment would have to admit dual if not various contributing factors), and the often horrible treatment that was the norm in the past. He explores how the stigma of mental illness meant his family hid the periodic disappearances of his own father, never explaining he was in mental health facilities and his mother never getting the support she needed to weather these absences. Hinshaw himself talks about his own struggles with a mind given to obsession and depression, and how learning about his family's history helped him evaluate his own situation and re-evaluate his father's diagnosis (eventually leading to much more effective treatment). A book that everyone should read as we seek to further demolish the stigma and deconstruct the forced silence that surrounds mental health.