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Publisher's Summary

Pete Earley had no idea. He'd been a journalist for over 30 years, and the author of several award-winning, even best-selling, nonfiction books about crime and punishment and society. Yet he'd always been on the outside looking in. He had no idea what it was like to be on the inside looking out until his son, Mike, was declared mentally ill, and Earley was thrown headlong into the maze of contradictions, disparities, and catch-22s that is America's mental health system.

The more Earley dug, the more he uncovered the bigger picture: our nation's prisons have become our new mental hospitals. Crazy tells two stories. The first is his son's. The second describes what Earley learned during a year-long investigation inside the Miami-Dade County jail, where he was given complete, unrestricted access. There, and in the surrounding community, he shadowed inmates and patients; interviewed correctional officers, public defenders, prosecutors, judges, mental-health professionals, and the police; talked with parents, siblings, and spouses; consulted historians, civil rights lawyers, and legislators.

The result is both a remarkable piece of investigative journalism, and a wake-up call; a portrait that could serve as a snapshot of any community in America.

©2006 Pete Earley; (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc

Critic Reviews

"Parents of the mentally ill should find solace and food for thought in its pages." (Publishers Weekly)
"Crazy is a godsend. It will open the minds of many who make choices for the mentally ill." (Patty Duke)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • C. Anne
  • Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 01-28-07

Harrowing, Heart-Breaking

Mr. Earley has written an important book, and he weaves his son's personal story into a well-researched narrative.

I learned a great deal about the history of treating mental illnesses in the U.S., as well as the Catch-22 implicit in many current US state laws, which place a premium on individual rights protection at the expense of appropriate treatment for the mentally ill. The result is that many mentally ill people end up in prisons for decades -- having fallen through the cracks in the health care system.

It is not a happy story; however, it is an important story -- a must for those working in local police forces or prisons, public policy makers in the area of health, and those who have family members suffering from a mental illness. Written accessibly, the book is easy to understand, and well-narrated.







7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Crazy

I started this book with fear and trepidation - I was not disappointed. Throughout his very personal and painful journey, Pete Earley doesn't "white wash" any of the terrible attributes associated with mental illness. His straight forward stories and anecdotes, plus disturbing truths about how hard it is for both patients and family members, have stayed with me long past the end of the book. He's correct when he says, only when personally affected are people willing to get involved. The author gives a compelling argument for revamping our mental illness protocol and a disheartening enlightment on why it hasn't happened. The book shook me down to my boots yet I found I could not pull away.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Crazy

I truly enjoyed this novel. After suffering a three teir breakdown (mental, emotional, and phyisical). It was a very informitive viewpoint. Since I was not able to walk in my loved ones shoes as I went through my personal hell. This novel gave me a true understanding what it was like for them and how they went through their own hell as I questioned my sanity. I hope thoes who have not had to experiance this topic first hand listen to this book to better understand what life is like for thoes whom breakdown.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A must read for professionals

A truly enlightening story of a father's struggle and the reality of coping with mental illness in the family. Brilliantly written, very down to earth and gripping. Not a dull moment in this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great work

This is the third Pete Earley book I've downloaded and listened to. It is the most personal to him and the most complex. Starting out as a loving father who faces the crisis of his son's escalating mental illness, Earley decided to write about his personal experience and the broader plight of mentally ill men who are incarcerated. By turns enlightening and frustrating, Crazy is a profoundly moving paean to human understanding and a call to action.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good blend of historical/current

Great book if you want to understand what the mental health system is now and some of the reasons it is the way it is.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A sobering lesson...

If you love someone with a mental illness, you MUST read this book. Pete Earley looks at mental illness through two lenses: investigative journalist and father. His personal connection with mental illness through his son makes this work poignant and, at times, heartbreaking.

Earley teaches us a sobering lesson. In today's healthcare culture, you cannot help someone who is mentally ill unless they want help. If they do not want help (and many do not, since their illnesses prevent them from seeing how desperately help is needed), they are likely to end up in prison. Prisons have become, Earley concludes, the modern day institution for the mentally ill.

If you are a parent or loved one of someone who is mentally ill, you may seek answers in this book for how to help that person. You might, in turn, be disappointed when no clear cut answers are delivered. But it's not for lack of trying. Earley leaves no stone unturned in his quest to understand what happens to mentally ill people in our society, and how we can begin to help them. (Reading this book is an excellent start!)

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • AC
  • 11-21-11

Excellent expose, but...

This book is well-written (and narrated), with the kind of investigative breadth that left me feeling as if I had actually been able to briefly glimpse many sides of the issue: the mentally ill, their loved ones, and the medical / mental health / law enforcement / social work / correctional systems.

However, I feel disturbed by the author's insistence on --- and one-sided justifications for --- the need for commitment law reform (i.e., the ability for a non-professional third-party to have someone involuntarily committed to a mental health facility), where he seems to argue in favor of removing controls which have been implemented in favor of civil rights. He focuses entirely on the negative consequences of these laws on the mentally ill, without giving even a nod to the fact that those laws are also in place to protect the non-mentally ill from being falsely committed.

Having intellectually struggled with issues of our current correctional / prison system, I keep coming to the same conclusion across a myriad of topics --- with freedom comes risk. This is true across criminal justice, social justice, medical / mental health, foreign policy, domestic security / counter-terrorism, etc.

If I want to be free from being falsely accused of mental illness and thrown into an asylum against my will, or charged as a terrorist under some blanket domestic security law (Patriot Act) and held indefinitely without any civil rights, or arrested for an activity newly criminalized (for the purpose of allowing our politicians to run on a "tough on crime" platform), then I have to assume the risk as a citizen. Which means living in a world where criminals are given the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty or let go, the mentally ill can avoid being involuntarily held / drugged unless they pose a threat to themselves / society, and social / political activists can speak their mind and cultivate dissent without fear of being thrown into a gulag by the police state. If I want to have those freedoms for myself, then I have to live in a society with criminal, mentally unstable, and controversial elements in my community. And if I want to solve those problems for myself and my loved ones, I have to do so at the family and community levels. However, it will NOT solve the problem to eliminate the civil rights of the mentally ill, because mental illness is simply a label and it can be applied to any one of us at any time. Decreasing their civil rights is the same as decreasing every American's civil rights.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Powerful

look into the mental health system. A worth-while read.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

As a mom of a son who has now been diagnosed as bipolar disorder and in jail, this book empowers me to take action

I'm a mom of a typical 20 year old son (graduated from a elite high school, scholarships to play baseball in college) and 1 day within 45 min of talking with him we was arrested for attempted murder. For 5 months he has been in jail. We had a private Psychiatrist evaluate him and now waiting for the state to evaluate to await if they decide to get him mental help or prison. He will now have a felony for the rest of his life. The private psychiatrist diagnosed him in jail with bipolar disorder. He needs help, and that is what I want him to have. Being in 'the system' takes a long time for them to decide his future, he's another criminal, not someone's son. He could have been getting mental help this entire time instead of getting worse by being locked up, with no help.

Thank you for writing this book, I have shared it with many family members and friends to read.