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Ben Behind His Voices: One Family's Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope Hardcover – August 16, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This extremely affecting memoir is made more potent by author Randye Kaye's background as a professional voice actor. Besides providing crisp, brisk narration, Kaye is exceptional at creating a sense of intimacy with listeners." - Publishers Weekly, starred review (audiobook)

In this must-read for any family struggling with mental illness, Kaye offers a gripping account of her son's battle with schizophrenia. Until Ben was 15, Kaye believed that patience, structure, therapy, and love were the solutions to Ben's academic and social challenges, mood swings, and drug and alcohol abuse. Having struggled to find help for Ben as his illness went unnamed and incorrectly diagnosed, Kaye provides helpful and informative guideposts throughout the book. Now a teacher for, and advocate of, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Kaye covers everything from helping siblings understand a new family dynamic, to managing involuntary commitment proceedings, to getting patients 'into the system.' Kaye readily acknowledges that no one learns this information voluntarily and reminds readers that it's impossible to reason with mental illness. Along the way, she shares her fundamental belief in love, humor, and hope. This well-written, well-researched, and brutally honest book will provide information, inspiration, and encouragement for many parents.

(Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

It's the reason parents fear the teenage years-the all-too-common story of a happy, well-adjusted child who slowly spirals into rebelliousness, disaffection, and apathy. Such teens may drop out of school or stop studying, indulge in drugs and alcohol, and possibly commit petty crime. When Kaye's son Ben gradually became "troubled," she tried all of the usual remedies: therapy, tough love, and special camps and schools, but nothing worked. Instead, he became increasingly emotionally unavailable and uninterested in taking care of himself and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Like many sufferers, Ben doesn't acknowledge his illness and hates the side effects of the medication he needs to function. In the latter part of the book, Kaye describes what she goes through to ensure that her son takes his medication and has a safe place to live. VERDICT An illuminating portrait of a parent coping with the guilt and heartbreak that come from feeling like one can't "fix" one's child. Recommended for anyone who is involved with teens or those with mental disorders, and a darn good read for memoir fans. (Library Journal)

A mother wrestles with the advent of her son's schizophrenia and its long, painful unfolding....The author....is eminently helpful, particularly in the matter of self-medication, which so many of the mentally ill prefer to taking the medications that have been prescribed for them....Heartfelt and surely of help to those new to living with mentally ill loved ones of their own. (Kirkus Reviews)

Kaye’s detailed record of her son Ben’s terrifying schizophrenia and terrifyingly slow descent into it may strike a chord with parents encountering similar behaviors in their own teens. Because the onset of Ben’s illness was so gradual, everyone chalked up his initial symptoms—extreme withdrawal, falling grades, and more—to a particularly virulent case of adolescent hormones. Denial did play a role in missing clues, but only because Kaye, like many, had no experience with mental illness. Even professionals (teachers, therapists, school administrators) overlooked an obvious-in-hindsight warning flag when the 16-year-old insisted he didn’t need to stay in school. Naturally, single mom Kaye tried everything within the limits of her resources to guide Ben from his self-defeating behaviors. Each effort was promising but sadly short lived. Afterward, the sweet, loving child she once knew would become obscured by an increasingly unkempt, unreliable stranger. Alas, Ben’s eventual diagnosis and treatment was just the beginning. Schizophrenia is a chronic, lifelong illness that hangs in a delicate balance of medication and vigilance.

(Booklist)

Ms. Kaye displays amazing strength by standing up to the mental health system, protecting her son, and, ultimately, letting him go so he could be as independent as possible. Her story is surprisingly easy to read, almost like a novel. You’re rooting for her, for Ben, and for his sister all the way. You will admire their courage as a family as they face the challenges of schizophrenia, when “normal” isn’t quite what they expected it would be. (National Family Caregivers Association)

The story of Randye Kaye’s son’s descent into psychosis and the long road to recovery reads like a diary, complete with dialogue, commentary, and an account of her own emotions as each incident and turn of events unfolds. You would think the attention to detail would weigh down the reader, but it has the opposite effect. It carries the reader along. If you’re someone who has watched a member of your family fall ill, it will also bring you to tears – not tears of sadness but, if there are such things, tears of delight at how she got things so right. There’s a fair chance that in reading Ben Behind His Voices, which is told by Kaye in the first person, you will be reading your own story as well. (North Shore Schizophrenia Society)

[L]ay readers will very likely be held in thrall by Kaye's attention grabbing personal account of her family's journey from the chaos of Ben's schizophrenia to hope. And at a professional level, the book's contents may especially be of enthralling interest professionally to mental health professionals, and also to legal professionals. (Metapsychology Online Reviews)

Ben Behind his Voices reminds us that schizophrenia is an illness, but not necessarily an identity. It movingly depicts the difficulty and the importance of recognizing, accepting, and managing the symptoms of this disorder. (John H. Krystal M.D., Yale University School of Medicine)

The book is too good to be true. I love the way Randye talks about her son; she is very direct about her experiences with mental illness in her family. This book is just what our family members are looking for when they learn their loved one has been diagnosed with any severe mental illness. The biggest question out there is whether there is any hope for them; I am pretty sure family members are going to find an answer as well as the understanding that will make a huge difference to all of them. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this book. I love it! (Paloma B. Dee, NAMI-CT Family & Professional Education Program Director, CT)

Randye Kaye has a message for all of us. With courage and fortitude she embraces her son and all his symptoms. She doesn't judge. She doesn't give up. She loves. She hopes. And in this book she explains how other parents can follow her lead and learn from her years of extraordinary experience. (Roberta Temes)

Should be required reading for all psychology professionals and students, as well as anyone who loves or cares for someone suffering with schizophrenia. Incredibly well written, profoundly honest, and, perhaps, most importantly, Randye Kaye offers help and hope to thousands of families needing to hear her story! I sat holding my breath as I turned each page. The author is not only a survivor and an incredibly loving mother, she is―by any standards―a gifted writer. (Linda Appleman Shapiro, psychotherapist, oral historian, author of Four Rooms Upstairs)

Immediately, I was immersed. The time flew by unnoticed, and I didn't want the chapters to end. Randye is a wonderful writer. I can feel and understand what's happening in such a way that it's almost as though it's happening to me, instead of being told to me. This book is going to be a bible for so many who've had schizophrenia touch their lives as well as for those who wish to understand this debilitating disease. (Gloria Gallo, actress)

'No one showed up with casseroles at our door.' These are the words of Randye Kaye in her poignant new memoir, Ben behind His Voices. Delving into her son's paranoid schizophrenia, Kaye takes the reader on a journey of frustration, heartache, anger, and love. It's every parent's nightmare, but this book is full of hope, knowledge, and empathy. It will make you see mental illness for what it really is: a horribly misunderstood devastation of the mind and soul―a tragedy not just for its victims and their families, but for society. Tragic not merely because mental illness exists―but because we, as a community, prefer to ignore its existence. Ben, and millions like him, need you to read this book. (Karen Winters Schwartz, author of Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder)

Persons with mental illnesses, like the rest of us, are surrounded by countless providers and service agents. It is an unfortunate reality that family, the closest and most knowledgeable group in the lives of individuals, are rarely consulted during times of acute crisis or treatment planning. Randye Kaye poignantly illustrates the value of the love of family as they, along with her son, Ben, struggle to make sense of the mental illness that impacts all of them. Randye and her family show unwavering commitment and love to Ben. As much as he has, at times, "been" hidden behind the muddlesome voices of schizophrenia, this caring, devoted family has "been" behind the voices every step of the way along with him. His struggle is theirs to share as can only be understood by family. (Michael W. Mackniak, Esq., MNMP, CBIS, Founder Melissa's Project)

Poignant, stark, and the energy of the scenes are set up really well. This work has screenplay written all over it. The dialogue is wonderful and the pace of the story moves briskly. (Nancy DeRosa, author of A Penny's Worth and There's No Place Like Home)

What I find most compelling about Ben Behind His Voices is the author's honesty as a mother about her true feelings. She connects with her readers because she allows herself to be human and vulnerable and share both her struggles and triumphs. (Amy J. Barry, author of A Child's Grief Journey and the award-winning parenting column, A Parent's Eye View)

The book I wish I would have had. Randye Kaye's skillfully written memoir of the extraordinary challenges her family has endured in coping with her son's schizophrenia is filled with hard-won knowledge and inspiring wisdom. This book should be required reading in programs that train mental health professionals; not only would students learn crucial basic information about psychotic disorders that will make them much more competent clinicians, but they'll see the chaos that is created for families when clinicians don't have the educational background they need. Randye's strong connection to NAMI lets readers understand the life saving support that this organization offers families. I wish I would have had access to this much needed book when my daughter had her first psychotic break. The journey of parents whose children develop schizophrenia is too often overwhelming and Randye's warm, insightful, informative book provides a guide about how to survive in the best ways possible.

(Susan Inman, author of After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity)

About the Author

Randye Kaye is an actress, broadcaster, voice talent, and speaker. She served more than twenty years as a major radio personality in Connecticut, and continues to work in theater, TV, film, commercials, industrials, and audiobooks. She is also the Connecticut trainer of Family-to-Family Educators for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, and a diversity trainer for the Anti-Defamation League. Randye is a member of SAG, AFTRA, AEA, NAMI, The National Speakers Association, and Mensa. www.randyekaye.com
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (August 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442210893
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442210899
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Let me begin by saying that this is one of the best books I've read this year. It touched me deep inside both as a parent and as a professional. I'm a Special Care Counsellor, and I have encountered mental illness both in my extended family and in my field. I quickly realized as I began reading that this is an important book, which is one of the reasons I made a request to the author to review it. I had no idea what to expect when I received it, but I didn't think it would be so good, so well-written, and so insightful.

Although non-fiction, it is a highly readable book and almost felt like I was reading a novel. It gripped me from the first page and I was riveted throughout. The pace, the dialogue, the added information boxes, and Randye Kaye's own writing is amazing. She builds a portrait of her son, Ben, from early onset when no one really knows what is going on with him to his diagnosis and subsequent recovery. The flow of the story is smooth and I easily had a mental picture of the progression of the illness. I appreciated the fact that although the author is a well known radio personality, she did not stray from the story of Ben and how schizophrenia affects a person, their family and their lives.

This book is not about her, but about a mother trying to help her son who is eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. It is a story any person, whether a sufferer or a relative, can relate to. It made me appreciate the role of family in helping a person recover from mental illness and it made me love my children more. It raised my empathy for families who deal with mental illness. Most importantly, it raised my awareness of schizophrenia, a mental illness that still has a stigma attached to it and is little understood.
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Format: Hardcover
Randye Kaye's skillfully written memoir of the extraordinary challenges her family has endured in coping with her son's schizophrenia is filled with hardwon knowledge and inspiring wisdom. This book should be required reading in programs that train mental health professionals; not only would students learn crucial basic information about psychotic disorders that will make them much more competent clinicians, but they'll see the chaos that is created for families when clinicians don't have the educational background they need.
Randye's strong connection to NAMI lets readers understand the life saving support that this organization offers families.

I wish I would have had access to this much needed book when my daughter had her first psychotic break. The journey of parents whose children develop schizophrenia is too often overwhelming and Randye's warm, insightful, informative book provides a guide about how to survive in the best ways possible.
Susan Inman
author of After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book...it was amazing - educational, insightful, emotional. I finished it in a weekend. I couldn't put it down unless I was tired or had to leave the house! Some people say that they want to make a difference in the world.....Randye Kaye HAS and SHE WILL even more with this valuable book!
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Format: Hardcover
I have just finished this incredible book. It has touched me on so many levels as a parent of children with mental illnesses. I couldn't put the book down because I could relate to the author's stories and all the stages of acceptance that she went through and is continuing to go through... Randye Kaye speaks for all of us who are parents dealing with children with mental illnesses. Oh, the stories I could tell but never could write down- but she did! Thank you!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am truly impressed with Ms. Kaye - as a mother, an author, and an advocate for Ben. She faced the specter of mental illness in her son and found a path to success.

My own journey through the mental illness with my husband lead to his death. I was unsuccessful in getting him the help he needed although I tried my best. I know there are others like me who found getting their loved one the help they need to survive to be an insurmountable obstacle.

I was relieved to read of one family who found a way to help the sufferer. Thank you, Ms. Kaye for infusing some hope into a seemingly hopeless scenario. Schizophrenia is a daunting diagnosis. But those who have it deserve to be helped, understood, kept safe, and most of all, they deserve a chance at life.

Ms. Kaye does a superlative job of demystifying the navigation of the mental health system for anyone. She offers a plethora of ideas, tools, and resources that can be used to help a mentally ill person. Knowledge is power, and Ms. Kaye does her best to give readers as much as she can.
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Format: Hardcover
`No one showed up with casseroles at our door.' These are the words of Randye Kaye in her poignant new memoir, Ben Behind His Voices. Delving into her son's paranoid schizophrenia, Kaye takes the reader on a journey of frustration, heartache, anger and love. It's every parent's nightmare, but this book is full of hope, knowledge and empathy. It will make you see mental illness for what it really is: a horribly misunderstood devastation of the mind and soul--a tragedy not just for its victims and their families, but for society. Tragic not merely because mental illness exists--but because we, as a community, prefer to ignore its existence. Ben, and millions like him, need you to read this book.
--Karen Winters Schwartz, author of Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder
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