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Schizophrenia in the Family


By Elaine Cassel

Schizophrenia is a family affair. If a family member is unfortunate enough to suffer from this disorder, other family members will suffer as well. A father has written a book about his experiences with his son's schizophrenia.

Peter Wyden had known for a long time that there was something strange about his son. He did not expect, however, that the odd adolescent behaviors were precursors to full-blown schizophrenia. Conquering Schizophrenia: A Father, His Son, and Medical Breakthrough (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998) is the first-person account of Wyden's journey with his son through the torment of schizophrenia as they search together for therapeutic solutions.

Jeff Wyden began to withdraw in adolescence, and at the age of 21 was diagnosed with schizophrenia. For the next 25 years, Peter Wyden was with his son every step of the way as he attempted to manage his son's treatment and recovery. Jeff took one of the newer schizophrenia medications, olanzapine, and though it helped control his symptoms, it was far from a cure. Peter talks about the stigma of mental illness and the good and bad experiences with the medical profession. Jeff, now in his late 40s, lives on the fringes of society, unemployed and still fighting the illness. Peter has become an advocate for people with schizophrenia and their families. He appears on television talk shows, gives media interviews, and works with schizophrenia advocacy groups.

The book portrays the frustrations, as well as the fleeting triumphs, of not just witnessing a son suffer from the ravages of schizophrenia, but suffering with him. In this case, Peter channeled his grief and frustration into a quest for knowledge about the disorder and opportunities for advocacy. Conquering Schizophrenia will be of interest to a wide range of readers-people with schizophrenia and their families and people interested in the current state of schizophrenia research.


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