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How We Got Barb Back: The Story of My Sister's Reawakening After 30 Years of Schizophrenia Hardcover – September 1, 2010
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"What we see so vividly through these pages is that mental illness is treatable, the biggest obstacle being fear and ignorance." -Richard K Baer, MD, author of Switching Time
"Lives that seem so promising and so hopeful can be forever changed by mental illness, but How We Got Barb Back shows us that the change isn't necessarily forever and that there is so much reason to hope." -Alison K. Malmon, founder and executive director, Active Minds, Inc.
"This is a heartwarming story of a family's struggle to come to terms with severe mental illness and find hope and love on the other side. What it shows us, once again, is that most of what we think we know about mental illness is just plain wrong." -Mark Vonnegut
"This rare story should inspire America's 3 million affected families to keep the faith." -Patrick Tracey, author of Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family's Schizophrenia
About the Author
Carolyn S. Spiro, MD is a co-author of Divided Minds.
Top Customer Reviews
This book tells the story of Barb (the author's older sister) and her battle with schizophrenia. Barb went from being a vibrant, funny, engaging person, to a ghost of her former self. She spent more time communicating with her voices, than with people in the real world. She was sullen and withdrawn and basically took herself out of life. She was unwilling to live the house. Nothing seemed to really phase her.
It didn't help matters any, that Barb's parents were both very cynical and distrustful of the medical profession in general, but especially of therapists and psychiatrists. They also felt deep shame about their daughter's behavior. Their method of coping was to simply ignore the problem. To make matters worse, the common belief about mental illness was that it was a sign of personal weakness and the result of poor parenting. If there was mental illness in a family, the sanity of the rest of the family was called into question. This made them even more stubborn and determined not to get help for Barb. Instead, they just overlooked her odd behavior and expected others to do the same. But they seemed blind to the impact Barb's illness was having on the rest of the family. On the one hand, you can definitely sympathize with the parents.Read more ›
The irony is, if Barb had been medicated from the 70's until now, there would have been nothing left of her mind to emerge! The drugs in use during the 70s and 80s would have destroyed whatever was left of her mind. That is precisely what has happened to my relative. He is an obese, blank, chain-smoking,TV-addicted institutionalized patient. His story has been repeated in many, many families. Drugs did not cure him, nor did they give him any kind of life. Drugs made him manageable in an institutional setting and that is all. Barb lived at home. She lived on her own schedule, ate only what she wanted, debated with her inner voices, played small power games with her overbearing father, and was LOVED by her family members. Was she so badly off?Read more ›
The book is readable, but basically repeats the same thing over and over. The author wasn't really around her sister very much for many years while she was away from home at school. Later she lived in the same city but only visited infrequently. So she often writes, "I can imagine what happened.....".
My problem is separating my feelings about how Barb was allowed to vegetate for 30 years from my enjoyment of the story as a story. I cannot explain why she wasn't treated without giving away too much of the story. If you are interested in knowing how it all happened read the book. But if you want to read an insightful, memoir about how they got Barb back, read the last fifty pages of the book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very interesting read. I had to revise some of the information I had about schizophrenia and was happy to learn about the new findings. Well written!Published 9 months ago by Silver Sadie
Not what I expected; thought there would be more discussion about symptoms and treatment. Story addresses family struggles when medication techniques are not used.Published on March 10, 2013 by Gloria
Thanks for sharing such a personal account. These are always uplifting. Recognized quite a bit from my own personal relationship with a family member.Published on November 24, 2012 by Kr
Good story of Mental illness and how it affects all the people who love her. Margaret Hawkins writing keeps you hanging on til the very end.Published on November 17, 2012 by Marg
This is a wonderful story of a woman whose sister was brought home from her home in Iraq by her husband acting strangely. Read morePublished on March 16, 2012 by Lynn Ellingwood
I'm a social worker, and I used to work in a psychiatric hospital. Part of that job entailed writing short biographies of the new residents based off of their own accounts of... Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by Laura I
Based on the title, I thought this was going to be a how-to book for families wanting to "get back" family members that have been "lost" to schizophrenia (for an excellent... Read morePublished on September 16, 2011 by Work of Life
A bit of backstory: I suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness for many years, from my pre-teen years to my mid-20s. Read morePublished on July 10, 2011 by S. Gardner
Maybe as a reader I had high hopes, but the entire title seems overly hopeful compared to its contents, especially "got and "Reawakening": "How we got Barb... Read more