From Library Journal
Formerly blamed for the illness, the families of schizophrenics are now more likely to be viewed as facilitators of treatment and healing. These first-person narratives provide insights into how two families coped with this devastating mental disease, which affects about one percent of the population. Neither provides easy answers, and those needing specific guidelines should consult Kim Mueser and Susan Gingerich's Coping with Schizophrenia: A Guide for Families (New Harbinger, 1994). Holley offers a moving account of how her distinguished and eccentric Southern family reacted when her mother, Dawn, was stricken. Missing fathers, well-off maiden aunts, and tales of child abuse and growing up in the 1960s deepen a story that reads like a well-written family saga. The author, who assumed responsibility for her mother's care at a young age, and her husband, a freelance writer, discuss relevant themes surrounding this disease (the mystery of its causes, the promise of drug therapy, the failure of deinstitutionalization, and public ignorance and prejudice) in the context of Dawn Elgin's life. Simon's Mad House is a more disturbing book. The journalist-author's brother and sister were schizophrenic, but according to this harrowing account her whole family was victimized by the disease. Combining personal experience with up-to-date research and interviews with other siblings, Simon emphasizes schizophrenia's terrible toll on immediate family members, including guilt, anger, and lifelong financial and emotional burdens. The book concludes with a set of recommended readings. Both books will appeal to relatives of the mentally ill and will educate others; Holley's in particular should fascinate a more general audience. Recommended for public libraries.?Antoinette Brinkman, Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This poignant memoir casts light into the tangle of misinformation and misunderstanding about schizophrenia. Dawn Elgin was a promising jazz vocalist in 1940s Hollywood, but mental illness destroyed her career as well as her capacity to care for her tiny daughter. Raised by maternal relatives, Tara Elgin took over as her mother's legal guardian at age 16. By 1980, when single-parent journalist Holley met singer and bookstore salesperson Tara (now development director of Austin's art museum), Dawn was a street person familiar to hundreds of residents of the Texas capital. The Holleys' study blends the trajectories of Dawn's illness, Tara's childhood and her efforts to improve the quality of her mother's life, changes in scientific and social prescriptions for schizophrenia, and the authors' romance, marriage, and family life. Especially helpful for readers dealing with a family member's schizophrenia; also enlightening for those observing this devastating illness, for now, from the outside. Mary Carroll