From NAMI E-News - Although schizophrenia is often described in scientific, medical or psychological terms, it is, like all illnesses, an intensely personal experience. By focusing on individuals with mental illness and their families Costello gives a good overview of where we are now in uncovering its causes and treatments. 11/2011
"This honest, lucid book examines the urgent problems of family history and early diagnosis in mental illness from a personal and scientific standpoint. It will be invaluable to families trying to understand their own history, and to those who have been blind to such history."
--ANDREW SOLOMON, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
"This book should be required reading for any parent with a family history of mental illness, for pediatricians, and for educators. Costello elegantly weaves personal history and scientific research into a compelling and profoundly important narrative..."
--AYELET WALDMAN, author of Bad Mother
"...A Lethal Inheritance is a graceful balance between science and memoir."
--LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Half in Love, Surviving the Legacy of Suicide, and Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Ann Sexton "
From the Author
I began this book project with the premise that the world didn't need another memoir of mental illness -- unless I could find a novel and useful reason for sharing the intimate details of what had been the worst decade of my life.
After dealing in 1998 with the diagnosis of my eldest son Alex at age seventeen with paranoid schizophrenia, I then confronted my own lifelong depression followed rapidly by my youngest son's depression and anxiety disorder -- while navigating the emotional and practical fallout. Nothing prepares you for such an unraveling -- particularly when you come from a family steeped in denial, addiction, and hidden mental illness, as mine was. Eventually I would see that these historical family dysfunctions and secrets were as central to the story I had to tell as were the present-day diagnoses, and treatment decisions I was encountering.
This is how I came to the decision to use my own family going back three generations as a case study on how mental illness and addiction traverse families.
From the book:
I've learned three important lessons on my journey through mental illness. First, that I've done things in the wrong order. If we, as parents, get treatment for our own psychological or addiction issues, our children will suffer far less mental illness. If they're already struggling with a mental health challenge, we'll be of much greater help to them. That leads to my second discovery: intervening sooner for a mental health problem is better than picking up the pieces later -- for everyone. Lastly, I've learned that although we're each born with inherited liabilities and assets, throughout our lives our minds become largely what we make of them. Put simply, nurture can trump nature.
Once we get these three things, the game has changed, and we're living in the prevention model of mental wellness where healthy minds rule.
To read an excerpt: alethalinheritance.com/about-the-book/excerpt/