No One Cares About Crazy People

The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America
Narrated by: Ron Powers
Length: 14 hrs and 49 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (514 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling 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 antipsychiatry 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' 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.

©2017 Ron Powers (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Very emotional...[Powers] reminds us how apathetic and cruel society can be when it comes to mental illness." ( Booklist)
"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Powers ( MarkTwain: A Life, 2005, etc.) presents two searing sagas: an indictment of mental health care in the United States and the story of his two schizophrenic sons.... This hybrid narrative, enhanced by the author's considerable skills as a literary stylist, succeeds on every level." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"Ron Powers and his wife never expected to visit the exotic lands of schizophrenia until their two sons became affected. A gifted professional writer, Powers takes the reader along on his explorations as he tries to understand why it happened and what to do. What he finds is 'the most dreaded of all human mental disorders.' Very readable and highly recommended." (E. Fuller Torrey, MD, author of Surviving Schizophrenia)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I needed Ron Powers voice to read this book

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Do not pick up this book if you don’t really care about crazy people or mental illness. If you do care, this book will be hard – you will cry, you will burn with frustration, you will absorb much information. You will not be able to put this book down, because the most compelling feature of this book, for anyone who has felt the pain of mental illness, is its’ IMPORTANCE! I bought the book and soon felt I lacked the courage to continue reading. But I wanted to. So, I decided to have Ron Powers read his story to me. It was the only way I was able to keep going. He didn’t want to write this book – its’ a book no one wants to write – but you will be forever grateful for his care, his arduous research, and his courage to write AND record this book!

83 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Could Have Been Better

This is an OK survey of the history and results of mental health treatment from an American perspective. On the favorable side, I'd say the research is good and the story is well told.

On the negative side, the author leans rather heavily on the stories of his own two sons. He probably should have waited a bit to write this, as it's clear he's still grieving for his deceased son and struggling with the mental illness of the surviving one. It's apparent that as he writes, he's searching for answers as to WHY his sons were/are schizophrenic. He blames the stress of their lives, their marijuana use, and a bunch of other things. He continually returns to details in his son's lives that would only be interesting to a proud parent. He even reads their emails and school essays. Not to be cruel, but this level of detail detracts from the main story and is just ... TMI. It probably ended up expanding the size of the audio file by several hours. His sons should have taken a less prominent part in the book.

His heavily liberal biases are easy to detect, as well. I found myself agreeing with most of his conclusions, but would have preferred a more objective narration. In these days, that is too much to ask of almost any writer or journalist.

His narration is super. He even does the voices when he's quoting another writer, politician or scientist. He's easy to listen to, he's professional, and his feelings and passions come through.

I don't want to seem too negative. There is a lot of good, meaty information here and I learned a lot. For someone who knows very little about mental health in the US, this would be a great introduction. He does keep the listener's interest. I just feel that there are two, very separate, books here. There's his personal narrative and there's the public story about the mental health system. The two should have been kept separate. Some people might like this style of nonfiction writing; I felt the personal was excessive.

106 people found this helpful

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Excellent read

This book opens up the world of mental illness. Not just about the authors son but about others and the failing mental health system. It covers everything from A to Z. Excellent read!

32 people found this helpful

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Do you like stats or human interest?

I am more into human interest than statistics.... THERE: I said it!! I labored through statistics in school: just what was required, and not one hour more! Yes, I know people are behind the numbers! ... but that does not mean I have to like it, just that I have to know it!! Stats are just so durn dry and mean spirited !
This narrative alternates between statistics and stories of a family in heartrending crisis at times. That meant that the story, for me at least, alternated between the head and the heart; a story like that never quite settles into one thread, which can be difficult for some readers/listeners.
The loss of a talented person such as Mr Powers’ son, is a loss for all of us. We will never be enthralled by the emotions that his music provoked in apparently most of those that heard it. For this loss we are all poorer.
I highly recommend this book, in whatever form is appropriate for the individual consumer. I especially recommend it for anyone that comes into contact with people that have psychoses, or those that love them. This might include not only law enforcement and anyone involved in the legal system, but also family, teachers, and anyone that belongs to the human race, because we are all diminished by the loss of every talented person.
The only reason I decreased the stars from five to four was because my adult ADD went into full flower each time I tried to digest the statistics, as I previously mentioned. I could feel my eyes crossing and rolling back in my head every second that numbers and percentages rolled off Mr Powers’ tongue.
It was still a great book! Highly recommend- there, I said it again!

23 people found this helpful

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Thorough, personal and helpful.

If you have experience with mental illness in your family or via someone close to you, this book will resonate deeply. I first bought a hardcover copy, but listened to most of it by way of Ron Powers reading. The history of development and usage of psychotropic drugs was most interesting to me, as I've heard all the names over the years. Extremely well researched and thoughtfully compiled. I'm a slow reader, so I'm glad I listened to the audible version! Well-read by the author. Thank you, Mr. Power's, for your helpful contribution to metal health policy reform by way of this book.

17 people found this helpful

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Beautiful and Moving story

I hope Ron Powers reads these reviews. I am an RN just entering the psychiatric field with a goal of becoming a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The content in this book is precisely why I want to be a part of psychiatric healing.
This book gives a true view of brave, kind, radiant and talented people struggling with mental health issues; Pulling on heart strings and rousing outrage. Ron weaves history with his personal experience masterfully.

The cadence and emotion he reads with is captivating. I really felt like I got to know his boys, felt the pride and fears of a parent. I laughed out loud and sobbed as well.
Thank you Ron Powers for sharing this with the world. <3

15 people found this helpful

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Full of history of mental health care!

Being a nurse and someone married to a man with Bi-polar 1, I found the history in this book very interesting. I enjoyed the way Ron Powers alternated chapters of history with the story of his family’s heartbreak and struggle with mental illness. I hope that this will open people’s eyes and hearts to the intense struggle of both the afflicted and the family members of those with debilitating mental illness.

12 people found this helpful

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Of Care and Caring

Ron Powers skillfully intertwines the historic lack of meaningful health care for people suffering from mental illness with the caring and love he and his wife extend to their sons. Though a heart wrenching journey, Powers concludes with hope. First, from advancing medical knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, a vision of community caring to benefit us all.

11 people found this helpful

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Amazing.

I want to make this text required reading for my graduate students in Mental Health Counseling.

22 people found this helpful

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interesting, many feelings felt

My feelings were all over the place with this book. I appreciate hearing it instead of reading it because of the musical examples included.
I feel for the sense of loss for the father/author/narrator.
I have a daughter with autism who has never been able to talk so this both hit home and at times I was jealous since I lost her before she could say/express/accomplish anything. We both face similar handicaps in trying to get needed help for our children. I was jealous that the author had and is looking forward to having the freedom of being a couple without children in the house. While his plight is bad and difficult, it has more possibilities than mine. I wondered which is worse, losing an adult child and then struggling, where you look back with such sadness at what was lost, or never having the child be anything but difficult as a child or adult. In other words losing them early so there is so little to look back upon. He had normality until tragedy, I never had normality. He faces a difficult future but has hope. My future is largely without hope.
At times I really did not like the tone of voice used. It seemed for lack of a better term 'stuck-up', pedagogical but in a speaking down to you way. It grated like nails on the blackboard.
Good points; It did convey his deep sadness and the difficulty of trying to deal with a system which is underfunded and limited in what it can offer. It did explain the problem of individual choice versus how to treat a person who really is not competent to make that choice for his own good. It did a good job of explaining the complexity of mental illness treatment.
Bad points; It seemed it was almost two books with two purposes mixed into one. One of a father's story where the sons were lionized too much and the crushing loss experienced. One where the topic of mental illness was being explained and explored. Somehow, the mixing didn't fully work and the literary references used at times did not help this.
All in all I am glad to have bought this book and listened to it. I hope it opens people's eyes to the plight of parents faced with having to do the best they can in difficult circumstances. I hope it brings us all more help.

16 people found this helpful