ROOM FOR J: A Family Struggles with Schizophrenia

Daniel S. Hanson, Author . Beaver's Pond $15.95 (125p) ISBN 978-1-59298-082-6

Life's normal highs and lows take on a devastating new meaning for Hanson and his wife when their sensitive but bright and engaging third child rather suddenly declares as a young adult that he is God. The resulting diagnosis of schizophrenia only serves to categorize Joel, whom they call "J," as one of many mentally ill Americans for whom services and care are a parallel universe filled with frustrations and heartbreak. Written as a series of journal entries beginning with J's diagnosis and ending with his ongoing treatment and support programs, this book outlines the enormous pain and confusion that the immediate family of a seriously ill person must endure every day, from making near-impossible choices about medications that treat symptoms but have terrible side effects, to calling the police to help commit a child against his will. Hanson, a communications professor at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, writes candidly about his family's sincere efforts to honor and respect—against all logic and rational thought—the delusions and feelings of the son they know can be a gentle, loving person with a talent for connecting with children and a knack for fly fishing, while remembering that "the burden of caring can be too much to bear unless you learn to care for yourself as well." Photos. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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