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Room For J: A Family Struggles With Schizophrenia Paperback – November 30, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1592980826 ISBN-10: 1592980821 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press; 1 edition (November 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592980821
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592980826
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,006,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Life's normal highs and lows take on a devastating new meaning for Hanson and his wife when their sensitive but bright and engaging third child rather suddenly declares as a young adult that he is God. The resulting diagnosis of schizophrenia only serves to categorize Joel, whom they call "J," as one of many mentally ill Americans for whom services and care are a parallel universe filled with frustrations and heartbreak. Written as a series of journal entries beginning with J's diagnosis and ending with his ongoing treatment and support programs, this book outlines the enormous pain and confusion that the immediate family of a seriously ill person must endure every day, from making near-impossible choices about medications that treat symptoms but have terrible side effects, to calling the police to help commit a child against his will. Hanson, a communications professor at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, writes candidly about his family's sincere efforts to honor and respect—against all logic and rational thought—the delusions and feelings of the son they know can be a gentle, loving person with a talent for connecting with children and a knack for fly fishing, while remembering that "the burden of caring can be too much to bear unless you learn to care for yourself as well." Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Daniel S. Hanson is an experienced leader, an author, and a teacher. He is the author of A Place to Shine: Emerging from the Shadows at Work and Cultivating Common Ground: Releasing the Power of Relationships at Work. Dan is currently a member of the faculty at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN, where he teaches courses in Communication.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Barnes on January 14, 2005
Mom, Dad and three healthy kids - the Hanson family seemed about as well-adjusted and All-American as it gets -- until that day the dreaded phone call came, inferring that their youngest son Joel, away at college, was having some sort of mental breakdown. During the ten years since then, the Hansons' lives have been turned upside-down and thrown into a battle with both Joel's schizophrenia and the flawed and frustrating American mental health system.

Author Dan Hanson says writing the book was a form of self-therapy, but it's also a generous gift to readers, especially those with family or friends dealing with mental illness. Sharing such a personal and trying situation is an act of courage, especially his indictment of our mental health system and society's need to subjugate and medicate every person that doesn't fit into its recognized definition of "sanity." Hanson pleads for better treatment of the mentally ill, many of whom have fallen through the cracks of a transition from huge state-run institutions to community-based care.

"Implying that we rely too heavily on medication-based treatment programs, Hanson suggests teams made up of a social worker, psychiatrist, therapist, and trained support person, all the while recognizing the funding and staffing difficulties involved. He also explains convincingly how we need to expand our definition of "normal" and give the mentally ill the respect they deserve. Even though the Hansons live in constant fear of an eruption of Joel's psychosis - he believes he is the Messiah and ruler of the Universe - they learn to accept Joel as he is, and also how to cope with their own guilt and feelings of helplessness.

Hanson has written a heart-wrenching but lucid plea for better treatment of our mentally ill.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Abderholden NAMI MN on December 30, 2004
Room for J offers an insightful look at the complexities and struggles faced by families who have a loved one with schizophrenia. Finding information and understanding treatment options are difficult amidst a culture that stigmatizes this biological brain disorder. Daniel Hanson's book offers understanding and hope along with resources for other families who face this struggle. Most of all he lets other families know that they do not need to face this journey alone. We need to find a room for J and for all families whose lives are affected by schizophrenia.

Sue Abderholden

Executive Director

NAMI Minnesota
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kate Towle on March 3, 2005
Having had a family member with schizophrenia, I have long searched for a book that goes beyond a clinical, sterile description of the illness. "A Room with J" is the rare and validating book that I've been looking for, written by a father who has the courage to honor and share the humility of living with his son Joel's mental illness. Using journals and photographs, the book offers an invaluable glimpse into Joel's experience, and that of his family members, as they strive each day to bring dignity to his life. What makes the book astounding is that it is written by a distinguished leader in Communications and Business Relationships who could have easily focused his efforts outside his poignant struggle at home. Instead, he took his extraordinary communication skills to create an unforgettable account of his family's resolve to triumph over the humbling chaos of Joel's journey. I came away from the book deeply grateful to the author for showing me how the power of love and honesty can ultimately shine right through an illness as agonizing as schizophrenia.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynette Schatz on January 6, 2005
Room for J is a great book for anyone who might want to gain some sensitivity and insight into what it is like to live with someone who suffers from mental illness. You'll also get a glimpse into the life of J through some personal journal entries. The book is not written for a light easy read, and it will most likely leave you asking more questions versus finding answers. In fact, it's somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster as you try to place yourself in the position of each of the people in the book while reading excerpts from their personal journals. However, it will challenge some of your perceptions surrounding mental illness and will hopefully make you a little more sensitive and compassionate to what family members and those who have been given the clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia may be trying to cope with on a day by day basis.
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