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A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the Science behind Three Generations of Mental Illness

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Every family has secrets; only some secrets are lethal. In Victoria Costello's family mental illness had been given many names over at least four generations until this inherited conspiracy of silence finally endangered the youngest members of the family, her children. In this riveting story--part memoir, detective story, and scientific investigation--in the tradition of th Every family has secrets; only some secrets are lethal. In Victoria Costello's family mental illness had been given many names over at least four generations until this inherited conspiracy of silence finally endangered the youngest members of the family, her children. In this riveting story--part memoir, detective story, and scientific investigation--in the tradition of the story of Henrietta Lacks, Costello recounts how the mental unraveling of her seventeen-year-old son Alex compelled her to look back into family history for clues to his condition. Eventually she tied Alex's descent into hallucinations and months of shoeless wandering on the streets of Los Angeles to his great grandfather's suicide on a New York City railroad track in 1913. But this insight brought no quick relief. Within two years of Alex's diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, both she and her youngest son succumbed to two different mental disorders: major depression and anxiety disorder. Costello depicts her struggle to get the best possible mental health care for her sons and herself, treatment that ultimately brings each of them to full recovery. In the process, she discovers startling new neuroscience and genetic findings that explain how clusters of mental illness traverse family generations. The author closes by translating what she's learned into a set of ground rules for "New, New Parenting," advice to help individuals and families recover from addictions and mental disorders, and prevent their return in future generations.


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Every family has secrets; only some secrets are lethal. In Victoria Costello's family mental illness had been given many names over at least four generations until this inherited conspiracy of silence finally endangered the youngest members of the family, her children. In this riveting story--part memoir, detective story, and scientific investigation--in the tradition of th Every family has secrets; only some secrets are lethal. In Victoria Costello's family mental illness had been given many names over at least four generations until this inherited conspiracy of silence finally endangered the youngest members of the family, her children. In this riveting story--part memoir, detective story, and scientific investigation--in the tradition of the story of Henrietta Lacks, Costello recounts how the mental unraveling of her seventeen-year-old son Alex compelled her to look back into family history for clues to his condition. Eventually she tied Alex's descent into hallucinations and months of shoeless wandering on the streets of Los Angeles to his great grandfather's suicide on a New York City railroad track in 1913. But this insight brought no quick relief. Within two years of Alex's diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, both she and her youngest son succumbed to two different mental disorders: major depression and anxiety disorder. Costello depicts her struggle to get the best possible mental health care for her sons and herself, treatment that ultimately brings each of them to full recovery. In the process, she discovers startling new neuroscience and genetic findings that explain how clusters of mental illness traverse family generations. The author closes by translating what she's learned into a set of ground rules for "New, New Parenting," advice to help individuals and families recover from addictions and mental disorders, and prevent their return in future generations.

30 review for A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the Science behind Three Generations of Mental Illness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    The first part of the book was a little slow for me. It was more of the research and part memior of her son Alex's schizophrenia. It was a heavy subject so I often only read 10-20 pages at a time. I'm sure it would be more applicable to families that face similar situations. My interest was more in the correlation of mental illness and addiction. I have a family history of both. It was interesting Victoria's findings of the mental health issues when she did some digging into her Irish heritage. I The first part of the book was a little slow for me. It was more of the research and part memior of her son Alex's schizophrenia. It was a heavy subject so I often only read 10-20 pages at a time. I'm sure it would be more applicable to families that face similar situations. My interest was more in the correlation of mental illness and addiction. I have a family history of both. It was interesting Victoria's findings of the mental health issues when she did some digging into her Irish heritage. I also have some Irish heritage in my family with the mental health issues. Just little things that make you think wouldn't matter but maybe they do. I am glad that she told her own story of depression. We gets hints of it in the beginning when she talks about her sons but I thought that would be all of her own story. I'm glad that she took the time to tell her story and not just her sons. I thought it important that she shared her sister's struggle and how different there paths ended up being. It's been my experience that her sister's story is all to common. It is also sad about the amount of secrecy and shame that mental health issues are clouded in our family histories. Victoria demostrates that truth when she looks into her own grandfathers death. She makes so many good points with research studies, medications, suicide prevention and the importance of counseling for ongoing recovery. I agree that it seems that many of these issues are not put in the forefront and we only end up dealing with end results. Overall I enjoyed the book and I think the important message that she conveyed by writing this book is becoming increasingly important.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was an incredibly fascinating and informative book. When Victoria Costello's older son was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 18 she starts to delve into mental health and try to figure out how best to help him. What she realizes a few years after her son's diagnosis is that she first needs to look at herself and her family's mental health history. But, looking into her family medical history she quickly realizes that there are 4 generations of mental illness at work and that she al This was an incredibly fascinating and informative book. When Victoria Costello's older son was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 18 she starts to delve into mental health and try to figure out how best to help him. What she realizes a few years after her son's diagnosis is that she first needs to look at herself and her family's mental health history. But, looking into her family medical history she quickly realizes that there are 4 generations of mental illness at work and that she also needs help for her life-long depression. Costello intersperses her family story with lots of facts and studies about mental illness and how it is affected by family history and also by outside influences. She also recognizes that there were things she could have done differently to help her children earlier - before they both had been diagnosed with mental illness. Even though there is a LOT of information and data from studies this book is extremely readable. Anyone with family members who have any mental health issues will see their own family's story reflected back in some ways. I finished this book in two days because it was just so fascinating and interesting. Even with all the awareness around mental illness today there was still a lot of new information for me. I would highly recommend this book to anyone! Some quotes I particularly liked: There was nothing unprofessional about Dr. C.'s conduct of this interview; the protocols for a psychiatric intake didn't then and still don't include such probing questions [about family history]. As a result, as Alex's intake psychiatrist, she made no attempt to find out a bout his life in between his birth and the period immediately before he entered the UCLA adolescent unit. It was as if this disease had manifested suddenly like the flu or measles. This couldn't have been further from the truth." (p. 47) "I was, then, not surprised to later read national epidemiological data identifying fourteen as the year by which half of all adult mental disorders begin, including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, conduct and oppositional disorders, psychosis, and schizophrenia. Scientists looking into this phenomenon attribute it to the tremendous growth spurt that begins in puberty when an adolescent's brain, body, and emotions are transformed as never before, or ever again." (p. 50) "The father of the self-medication hypothesis is Edward J. Khantzian, a founding member of the Psychiatry Department at Harvard's Cambridge Hospital. Khantzian, writing in 1985, believed addicts weren't victims of random selection but instead had a drug of choice: a specific durg affinity dictatede by 'psychopharmacologic action of the drug and the dominant painful feelings with which they struggle.' For example, he observed the energizing effect of cocaine and other stimulants in response to the depletion and fatigue of addicts dealing with preexisting depression. In his patients who abused opiates, Khantzian noted the calming effect of heroin on the addict's typically problematic impulsivity." (p. 130-1) "So with alcohol abuse...genetics trump environment." (p. 146) " 'Consider,' says Deborah Levy of Harvard McLean Hospital, 'the incidence of schizophrenia is stable at about 1 percent, and schizophrenics have very low reproductive rates. What is keeping those genes going?'...The hypothesis guiding Levy's work is that the majority of people who carry the genese of severe mental illnesses - especially schizophrenia - are not affected with a full-blown case of the disease. They are well parents and siblings of these patients, most of whom never show signs of the illness." (p. 197)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Absolutely marvelous. A must read for parents regardless of whether you believe there is or is not mental illness in your ancestry. Learning about the intersection of genetics and environment is crucial for living in todays world. Whether your cause, your issue is mental health, learning disabilities, environmental safety, addiction, prenatal care, cancer prevention/treatment or a host of other things, this concept of G x E is crucial. The memoir parts offer compelling evidence of the authors sin Absolutely marvelous. A must read for parents regardless of whether you believe there is or is not mental illness in your ancestry. Learning about the intersection of genetics and environment is crucial for living in todays world. Whether your cause, your issue is mental health, learning disabilities, environmental safety, addiction, prenatal care, cancer prevention/treatment or a host of other things, this concept of G x E is crucial. The memoir parts offer compelling evidence of the authors sincere motives in writing such a book. I really appreciated her honesty about both her personal life and the positive and negative issues of current mental health treatments. She plays no favorites, blames no singular entity, and makes no excuses. The genealogy bit was probably my least favorite but that only means I liked it rather than I loved it. Those who enjoy genealogy and have a family history trail will like this section - a mini investigative drama snuck into a scientific memoir.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Powell

    This book was very informative and gives hope that even though a child may be genetically disposed to a mental illness, there are ways to recognize indicative behaviors and prevent the disease...often without the use of drugs.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Very interesting. But if you are a parent who suffers from anxiety or depression - this book will make you anxious and depressed. Fact.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Very Good. Very Interesting. Lots of facts and studies. Well researched. Written in a very readable, storylike fashion.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine Fay

    Victoria dives deep in order to uncover three generations of mental disorders in her family in order to help her two sons, as well as herself, get the proper diagnoses and proper treatment in order to become mentally stable. It’s really a tough thing to deal with family who is not transparent about mental disorders and mental health. The stigma makes it difficult to come clean about these things, but if people do NOT start coming clean and forthright with this kind of family history, it could le Victoria dives deep in order to uncover three generations of mental disorders in her family in order to help her two sons, as well as herself, get the proper diagnoses and proper treatment in order to become mentally stable. It’s really a tough thing to deal with family who is not transparent about mental disorders and mental health. The stigma makes it difficult to come clean about these things, but if people do NOT start coming clean and forthright with this kind of family history, it could lead to DEATH. Plain and simple fact. If Victoria had not educated herself enough to help her son, he could be another statistic right now. Read this if you have an interest in mental health and how it runs in families.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Tevepaugh

    I really enjoyed how the book transitions from memoir to a novel on scientific research. Victoria Costello began to write the novel when her son, Alex, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Costello then decided to trace her family's history involving mental illness. Not only did she write about her son, but she had also discussed her own mental illness which was depression and alcoholism. I found it extremely interesting how she traced her family’s illnesses. On her father’s side, there wa I really enjoyed how the book transitions from memoir to a novel on scientific research. Victoria Costello began to write the novel when her son, Alex, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Costello then decided to trace her family's history involving mental illness. Not only did she write about her son, but she had also discussed her own mental illness which was depression and alcoholism. I found it extremely interesting how she traced her family’s illnesses. On her father’s side, there was a history of drug/alcohol abuse, bipolar disorder, and depression. Her son also had a drug problem, he had been taking methamphetamine’s. I loved the scientific explanation as well, she had researched genetics, brain development, and the impacts of the environment on an individual. There is not only a physiological explanation, but also a social explanation for mental illness. Personally, I find it fascinating to learn about mental illness hence why I decided to read the book in the first place. I can apply this to real life because my family has a history of anxiety disorders, so to read a book on how mental illness is inherited is phenomenal. It gave not only me, but my mother and siblings insight on mental illness. One of the only things that had bothered me about the book is that when Victoria Costello was describing her son’s mental illness she had made it sound as if she had just lost her son. Although mental illness is debilitating, especially paranoid schizophrenia, one can still be themselves when they take their medication properly and seek proper psychological help. Her son will not be able to have the life he once lived, but monitoring him and providing sufficient care for him will definitely make a significant difference on the way his mental illness will have left him. I recommend this book to those seeking insight on their mental illness or to one who is interested in learning about mental illness. I say this due to the fact that the book is about Costello researching mental illness from a personal and scientific perspective. It is exceptionally easy to read, and it will keep the reader engaged. The book is filled with fascinating information, it was a wonderful read!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Rae Baker

    This is a powerfully researched topic with memoir interlaced for example. Not an easy read, especially if there is body memory that surfaces, which was my case. I learned so much and had to go back and reread sections for greater understanding. I cannot express how important this information is, especially to those with mental illness in their family background. Being an adoptee, I knew nothing of my history...this greatly hindered my own life and damaged my children because I was unable to help This is a powerfully researched topic with memoir interlaced for example. Not an easy read, especially if there is body memory that surfaces, which was my case. I learned so much and had to go back and reread sections for greater understanding. I cannot express how important this information is, especially to those with mental illness in their family background. Being an adoptee, I knew nothing of my history...this greatly hindered my own life and damaged my children because I was unable to help them. I was a mess...literally checked out for many years. This realization alone, made Costello's story extremely difficult to dig through. Now that I've had time to ponder what she is really talking about, I feel ready to tackle my own history in greater ways. I'm still researching my birth family and no one is open to speak with me. So many secrets and so many illnesses...totally dysfunctional and carried on within my own family atmosphere. Very sad that adoptee's don't have access to their medical and mental health histories...consequences can be lethal, is an understatement. I've more research and will continue to use this amazing resource to help me find my way. Bottom line, addressing personal depressions and cycles is my first step. One day at a time...I'm very sad that my children have presented with psychological environmental and genetic tendencies. It's as if they had no hope...but they do have hope now...mom is learning and will continue to reach out to help them. There is a way...there are answers...there is help!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Trena

    I keep striking out on schizophrenia books. I was extremely disappointed by Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family's Schizophrenia, which turned out to be some guy's random musings on schizophrenia in his family. What with having the word "science" in the title I thought this book would be about, you know, science. But it is not. It is some woman's random musings on schizophrenia in her family. She makes an effort to dress up her memoir with science, but I didn't trust anyt I keep striking out on schizophrenia books. I was extremely disappointed by Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family's Schizophrenia, which turned out to be some guy's random musings on schizophrenia in his family. What with having the word "science" in the title I thought this book would be about, you know, science. But it is not. It is some woman's random musings on schizophrenia in her family. She makes an effort to dress up her memoir with science, but I didn't trust anything she said. It was clear she had her own (lay) thesis and talked about science that supports it. The odd thing is that she truly believes that good parenting can prevent schizophrenia. But her son developed it (maybe? he's been in unmedicated remission for many years, so I'd be surprised if his initial diagnosis holds up). But she doesn't seem to feel guilty or blame herself? I mean, not that I'm saying she should--far from--but if you're going to make that kind of assertion over and over in what is essentially a memoir maybe you should interrogate it? I kept thinking I'd stop reading this book, but then the author would promise she was just about to get to the science. But she never really did. There are a few tidbits in there about alleles and cohort research, but again, cherry-picked and not well-explained or explored. Blah.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    If you have any questions about how your mental health history, and the mental health of anyone in your family tree, might impact your children, you should read this book. It's part scientific review, part memoir. And it offered a lot of things to think about - some more obvious than others - regarding the importance of knowing your mental health history so as to be a better parent. Like the fact that the more you dig into your family history, the better equipped you are to recognize and address If you have any questions about how your mental health history, and the mental health of anyone in your family tree, might impact your children, you should read this book. It's part scientific review, part memoir. And it offered a lot of things to think about - some more obvious than others - regarding the importance of knowing your mental health history so as to be a better parent. Like the fact that the more you dig into your family history, the better equipped you are to recognize and address any issues that crop up in yourself and your children. Or like the fact that, if you already have mental illness in your family, an event like divorce can be the straw that broke the camel's back for a child's mental health. But it also offers hope for those dealing with depression, bipolar disease and schizophrenia. A tall order. Well worth the time and attention to read it. There's more on the author's website at http://alethalinheritance.com. http://kateryanwilliams.blogspot.com/...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    This book has changed my life with regards to really taking a closer look at some of the "secrets" in my own ancestors' history. Is there a generic link to alcoholism? What about mental illness? What is really behind some of my grandmother's odd behavior? And my mothers? Have I followed in suit? I applaud Victoria Costello for boldly taking a journey backward in time to research the skeletons in her closet. Through examining generations of psychiatric issues, she has uncovered risk factors and ea This book has changed my life with regards to really taking a closer look at some of the "secrets" in my own ancestors' history. Is there a generic link to alcoholism? What about mental illness? What is really behind some of my grandmother's odd behavior? And my mothers? Have I followed in suit? I applaud Victoria Costello for boldly taking a journey backward in time to research the skeletons in her closet. Through examining generations of psychiatric issues, she has uncovered risk factors and early warning signs and how various mental illnesses manifest themselves under the age of 12. Throughout the book, Costello stresses the effectiveness of early interventions.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    What a courageous and eye-opening view of not only a mother navigating her children through the mental-health field, but also recognizing her own struggle with mental illness. Having seen my brother's mental illness and then facing my own, I found Ms. Costello's account to be very moving. I think her science-writing background bodes well here, but she also makes all of it quite accessible. What a courageous and eye-opening view of not only a mother navigating her children through the mental-health field, but also recognizing her own struggle with mental illness. Having seen my brother's mental illness and then facing my own, I found Ms. Costello's account to be very moving. I think her science-writing background bodes well here, but she also makes all of it quite accessible.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanne-in-Canada

    Costello blends a frank recounting of her family's history of mental health issues with descriptions and evaluation of scientific research to encourage readers to examine and deal with their past, present and future. Some of the information is densely written--yet accessible--and worth the time and effort. Costello blends a frank recounting of her family's history of mental health issues with descriptions and evaluation of scientific research to encourage readers to examine and deal with their past, present and future. Some of the information is densely written--yet accessible--and worth the time and effort.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    The intended audience is families dealing with depression, addiction, and especially, schizophrenia. I'm sure this book will be extremely helpful and edifying for those readers who want to understand the basics of the disease. The intended audience is families dealing with depression, addiction, and especially, schizophrenia. I'm sure this book will be extremely helpful and edifying for those readers who want to understand the basics of the disease.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Van

    I like the personal stories and some of the scientific explanations but I do get bogged down in some of the medical jargon.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    An important, readable and courageous contribution to the literature on the heritability aspect of mental illness and the sometimes less than enriching impact of mental illness on our families. I felt a great deal of compassion for this woman grabbling with her own mental health issues whilst supporting her two boys also living with serious mental health diagnoses. While many of us would have just left it there ( ie. just making it through) she went on to write, with great skill and thorough res An important, readable and courageous contribution to the literature on the heritability aspect of mental illness and the sometimes less than enriching impact of mental illness on our families. I felt a great deal of compassion for this woman grabbling with her own mental health issues whilst supporting her two boys also living with serious mental health diagnoses. While many of us would have just left it there ( ie. just making it through) she went on to write, with great skill and thorough research, this important book which will go a long way in educating others and promoting much needed changes to our mental health care systems. #endthestigma

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    3.5 stars

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angie Mangino

    A Lethal Inheritance By Victoria Costello 2012 Reviewed by Angie Mangino Rating: 5 stars As a working single mother, Victoria Costello uses her expertise as a science journalist to include a historical rendering of facts from studies done to support her work about mental illness. She shows the cross-generational pattern that many times prevents obtaining necessary treatment, which causes untold pain in families. A Lethal Inheritance begins with incidents that opened her eyes to see and act on what wa A Lethal Inheritance By Victoria Costello 2012 Reviewed by Angie Mangino Rating: 5 stars As a working single mother, Victoria Costello uses her expertise as a science journalist to include a historical rendering of facts from studies done to support her work about mental illness. She shows the cross-generational pattern that many times prevents obtaining necessary treatment, which causes untold pain in families. A Lethal Inheritance begins with incidents that opened her eyes to see and act on what was hiding in plain sight all along. Part two embellishes the family tree, and her search to find the roots of mental illness in her family; while in part three; she completes her personal story, and offers vision for others to understand the science and practice of recovery, as well as prevention. The major strength of this book is Costello’s combination of sharing her family’s experiences with scientific facts, treatments, and debates. Readers struggle with her family, and may see similarities in their own families, as she propels into action once understanding the family dynamics unfolding. Her son Alex openly acts out, as did her sister Rita. Her son Sammy quietly keeps everything in, as originally did the author. The book concludes with resources, notes, and an index to rival any textbook on mental illness, but to its credit, does not read like one, thanks to the author’s openness in sharing. She presents the knowledge with scientific authority, but never loses the voice of a loving and concerned mother. Mental illness is many times not seen or completely understood because it is difficult to face the facts, and so easy to deny out of self-protection. What is necessary is first to understand, which eventually enables finding one’s way to a solution through treatment. Part three of the book begins with a quote from August Bier, a German surgeon practicing at the turn of the nineteenth century. “A smart mother makes often a better diagnosis than a poor doctor.” Victoria Costello proves to be one such smart, concerned mother, who intimately shares her family pain that led to the intelligent conclusions she shares with readers.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

    This is an important book for all of us. Health workers, teachers, parents need this information. Costello looks into the research on GxE, genetics and environment. There has long been a suspicion that most mental problems have an underlying genetic cause that is triggered by an environmental factor. Now the research is getting specific about those combined factors. This information is beginning to reach the treatment and prevention phase. While the book is focused primarily on schizophrenia, the This is an important book for all of us. Health workers, teachers, parents need this information. Costello looks into the research on GxE, genetics and environment. There has long been a suspicion that most mental problems have an underlying genetic cause that is triggered by an environmental factor. Now the research is getting specific about those combined factors. This information is beginning to reach the treatment and prevention phase. While the book is focused primarily on schizophrenia, the information is also applicable to depression, paranoia and autism. A major contributing factor predicting factor for who is susceptible for developing a neuroscience problem is family history, going back three generations. Psychiatrists are starting to look seriously into family background and at early childhood unusual behaviour to predict problems and begin treatment at an age where problems can be headed off. Early warning signs are discussed at length. Such things as maternal stress in the first trimester of pregnancy and marijuana use prior to puberty are a couple early warning signs. Costello's own personal experience with her own problems and those of her two sons are discussed, along with the search into her family history of mental disease, is presented as a means of understanding the new research and the effectiveness of proper treatment. I found two problems. First, she seemed to lose focus at times, drifting from her story telling back into discussing research. Secondly, in the search for the cause of her grandfather's early death. She resorted to assumptions and ethnic stereotype (he was a poor, alcoholic Irish immigrant) instead accepting the fact that the cause of death could not be proven. Yes, Ireland does have the highest rate of schizophrenia in the world. If you have mental health issues in your family or if you are a young parent or just thinking of having children please read this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Dyson Eitelman

    Through no fault of the book's, I somehow convinced myself it would be more history and less science. Thus I was disappointed...but only the tiniest little bit so. You can't manufacture family history to make a great story better--but you can tell the truth. (She did.) It's a story of one mother and her difficult fight for her two son's mental health--and ultimately her own--but it's also a story of the science, research, history and future of mental illness in the world. I can't even list all of Through no fault of the book's, I somehow convinced myself it would be more history and less science. Thus I was disappointed...but only the tiniest little bit so. You can't manufacture family history to make a great story better--but you can tell the truth. (She did.) It's a story of one mother and her difficult fight for her two son's mental health--and ultimately her own--but it's also a story of the science, research, history and future of mental illness in the world. I can't even list all off that topics that pop up in this book--genetics, environmental factors, schizophrenia, suicide, recovery, early detection and prevention, family secrets, Roscommon Ireland, the Catholic church... It's not a long book in pages but I didn't feel that any topic was given a shallow treatment, either. In fact, for the first time in a long time, I'm going to flip through her bibliography and see if anything belongs on my to-read list.... Oops. Found something.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is about Victoria Costello's search into her families history of mental illnesses. She has depression, her sons have schizophrenia and anxiety, her father had severe alcoholism, and her grandpa died by suicide. (Probably from suicide) She explores the possibilies of genetics and environmental factors being combined into the probability of someone having a mental illness. I liked this book, it combines her story with facts to support her story. It was interesting and it provided informat This book is about Victoria Costello's search into her families history of mental illnesses. She has depression, her sons have schizophrenia and anxiety, her father had severe alcoholism, and her grandpa died by suicide. (Probably from suicide) She explores the possibilies of genetics and environmental factors being combined into the probability of someone having a mental illness. I liked this book, it combines her story with facts to support her story. It was interesting and it provided information about the topic to help you better understand what's going on. It brings you through the story of her search for an answer to mental illness showing you what she discovered at each step along the way. The writing gives you a personal account of the experience of having a mental illness on any scale.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I may add more later, but wanted to say I really enjoyed this book. I felt it was an engaging mix of memoir and science writing. There was enough memoir that it reads almost like a thriller, but the information mixed in is very detailed and carefully researched and referenced. Some areas of the book are more seamless than others, but I didn't think it detracted from the point. At 230 pages of actual writing, it's a quick read. While this is a book that can certainly be read and enjoyed by the ma I may add more later, but wanted to say I really enjoyed this book. I felt it was an engaging mix of memoir and science writing. There was enough memoir that it reads almost like a thriller, but the information mixed in is very detailed and carefully researched and referenced. Some areas of the book are more seamless than others, but I didn't think it detracted from the point. At 230 pages of actual writing, it's a quick read. While this is a book that can certainly be read and enjoyed by the masses, those with "holes" or curiosities in their family history will probably walk away with a lot more. I found it helped answer some of my own questions. If people ask me about psychology books to read this is high on my list of recommendations.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A memoir by a woman researching her family's medical history to discover a genetic link between her ancestors' mental health and her and her sons' mental illnesses. The book has some interesting info about how the brain works and what happens when certain parts of the brain begin to deteriorate. Also, very cool details on symptoms of and triggers for mental illness in adolescents. Most of the book covers mental illness in young people, including children, and the debate over whether to treat at- A memoir by a woman researching her family's medical history to discover a genetic link between her ancestors' mental health and her and her sons' mental illnesses. The book has some interesting info about how the brain works and what happens when certain parts of the brain begin to deteriorate. Also, very cool details on symptoms of and triggers for mental illness in adolescents. Most of the book covers mental illness in young people, including children, and the debate over whether to treat at-risk children who exhibit minor symptoms early or to wait until the illness is full-blown. There was a bit about the Irish and depression that I found a little meh, but overall a pretty cool book with a lot of helpful material (especially in the "notes" section).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    A really very engaging read, especially for anyone interested in the risk and development of mental illness in families with a lineage of disease. Despite painting an honest and unromantic portrait of life with a child progressing towards psychosis, this is actually a pretty upbeat book. The author suggests a number interventions, big and small, that empirical evidence suggests may reduce, delay, or even prevent the onset of disease in individuals who carry a genetic predisposition to mental ill A really very engaging read, especially for anyone interested in the risk and development of mental illness in families with a lineage of disease. Despite painting an honest and unromantic portrait of life with a child progressing towards psychosis, this is actually a pretty upbeat book. The author suggests a number interventions, big and small, that empirical evidence suggests may reduce, delay, or even prevent the onset of disease in individuals who carry a genetic predisposition to mental illness. (I put more stock in some of them than others.) This book is essentially a memoir mixed with a review of the current research on the subject. Highly recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    A mother uncovers the science behind three generations of mental illness in her family. I liked this book and felt like it gave me a lot of useful information about preventing and recognizing mental illness in your family. She also talks about her family and relates personal experiences with her two sons, one who is bi-polar and one who is schizophrenic, as well as discovering that she herself needed to be treated for depression. She also shares findings about clinical studies and new advances in A mother uncovers the science behind three generations of mental illness in her family. I liked this book and felt like it gave me a lot of useful information about preventing and recognizing mental illness in your family. She also talks about her family and relates personal experiences with her two sons, one who is bi-polar and one who is schizophrenic, as well as discovering that she herself needed to be treated for depression. She also shares findings about clinical studies and new advances in treatment and parenting. I would highly recommend this book to someone who thinks they have or may have a family member with a mental illness.

  27. 5 out of 5

    HeavyReader

    Ok, so I didn't read this book at all. I won it through First Reads right at the start of a CRAZY time in my life and ended up not reading it. I can't remember if I gave it away or turned it in for trade at a used book store. I wouldn't even list it, but I want to put in on my First Reads shelf, since I DID win it. Ok, so I didn't read this book at all. I won it through First Reads right at the start of a CRAZY time in my life and ended up not reading it. I can't remember if I gave it away or turned it in for trade at a used book store. I wouldn't even list it, but I want to put in on my First Reads shelf, since I DID win it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angela Stockton

    I found myself very disappointed with this book. I thought it was strictly on the science and nature of mental illnesses, but it became more of a memoir with lots of repeats. Good for basic, general information. Could have been so much better.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    A mother reviews her family history when her teenage son develops mental illness. The thread of mental illness is explored throughout the generations. Clear that there is a genetic link to some mental illness.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    As a mental health advocate and as a person with a mental illness, I thought this book was good. BUT if you have trouble separating your mental illness from your "issues" and definitely from how those neuroses affect your child, this may not be for you. As a mental health advocate and as a person with a mental illness, I thought this book was good. BUT if you have trouble separating your mental illness from your "issues" and definitely from how those neuroses affect your child, this may not be for you.

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