Sunday, November 3, 2013

Schizophrenia: A Brother Finds Answers in Biological Science, by Ronald Chase. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013

Ronald Chase is uniquely qualified to write a book on schizophrenia; as a biologist he has combed research papers on the subject and as the brother of a person with schizophrenia he knows up close and personal what havoc the disease wrecks on the lives it touches. To blend these two perspectives, Dr. Chase utilizes a unique way of structuring the book: the chapters alternate between the personal story of his brother, Jim, who developed schizophrenia while in college, and the historical and scientific story of schizophrenia itself. The reader is free to either read alternating chapters first, either acquainting themselves with Jim’s story or reading the hard science; or to read them as presented. Personally I read it as presented; the short chapters on Jim’s life (hard to have much of a life when your disorder keeps you living in group home type situations and blunts your curiosity, cutting short what could have been a brilliant life) broke up the facts and figures of the hard science nicely. I found it to be the best book on schizophrenia I’ve read. Jim’s story is heartbreaking, but at the end the science gives just a little bit of hope for others with this same brain disorder- and the author makes it clear that schizophrenia *is* a disorder of the structure and chemistry of the brain, not a ‘mental’ illness that a person can just buck up and overcome. 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through it and buy the book, Amazon will give me a few cents. Neither this or the fact that I got the book free through the Amazon Vine program changed my review.

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