Hidden Valley Road Book Review

Aside from every psychologist and mental health professional needing to read this… I would add that everyone does too lol. Not only does it offer invaluable insight into the world of schizophrenia, but also the historical context and development of how mental illness was seen and treated over the years. It has such gendered connotations because mothers were often blamed for being “cold” and then subsequently blamed for all of their children’s problems.

This work is beautifully written and not only gives you a great mix of history of the mental health field and schizophrenia research, but also the personal anecdotal stories of people who actually lived with schizophrenia… all in one family with 12 children– 6 of which were symptomatic. So rare.

The one critique I do have is that because of this one family’s circumstances, it does sort of paint the picture that schizophrenic people are violent, which is a misnomer. They are actually more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetuate it. So I’m worried that laypeople will equate schizophrenia with violence if, say, their only knowledge of the disease is from this book.

Aside from that, it pretty much highlights how the nature/nurture debate still rages and likely the best answer lies somewhere in between with a genetic predisposition and environmental triggers potentially causing a break down (though not in all cases).

One passage really struck me “Wylie wanted more than she could give anyone–a sincere honest look at her life.” That is such a heartbreaking quote but it’s so poignant… people will run forever and turn down love, turn down growth, turn down lots of things that require more of them. But that is what trauma does.

This is not a light read by any means, but I do think it’s an important one. Check it out.

5/5 Stars

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