Back to Bedlam? America’s Neglect of Its Mentally Ill

By Diane Cole

July/August 2017

Review: No One Cares about Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America. By Ron Powers. Hachette Books. 360 pages. 9780316341172

I hope you do not ‘enjoy’ this book. I hope you are wounded by it,” writes Pulitzer Prize–winning author Ron Powers at the start of his searing account of living with and through his sons’ devastating struggles with schizophrenia. His own emotional scars are fully visible as he describes the heartbreak and horror of watching his adored, spirited sons, while still in their late adolescence and young adulthood, begin suddenly and inexplicably to fall prey to increasingly irrational and erratic thoughts and behaviors, ultimately leading to the diagnosis of schizophrenia in both children. He also burns with high-octane rage—and outrage—as he surveys the sad history of mental healthcare in our country, a trajectory that’s led to the woefully underfunded and inadequate patchwork system of today.

Powers deftly intertwines his personal family story with the social and political history of how we treat the mentally ill, resulting in a grim indictment of the public’s moral and political failure to care. Along the way, he provides advice for families and mental health professionals alike, gleaned from his own experience, about the multitude of challenges that come with the diagnosis of schizophrenia or any serious mental illness. Typically, the long-haul journey begins with a…

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