Audiobook: (Randye Kaye, narrated by the author. Spoken Word, unabridged, 10 CDs, 12.5 hrs.)
When Randye Kaye’s high school age son, Ben, shows symptoms of what will eventually be diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia, it is at once exasperating, befuddling, and deeply frightening for Kaye’s family. There is no true recovery from schizophrenia, and Ben goes through numerous treatments, hospitalizations (five alone in 2001), and even a period of homelessness. This extremely affecting memoir is made more potent by author Randye Kaye’s background as a professional voice actor. Besides providing crisp, brisk narration, Kaye is exceptional at creating a sense of intimacy with listeners. We hear in Kaye’s performance her simmering frustration as Ben begins to act out in unexpected ways, her confusion as Ben’s symptoms often inexplicably change, her motherly concern during Ben’s moments of sudden vulnerability, and her sadness when she realizes that Ben’s schizophrenia will be a permanent aspect of both his life and his family’s. A Rowman & Littlefield hardcover. (Sept.) Reviewed 11/28/11
Hardcover: In this must-read for any family struggling with mental illness, Kaye offers a gripping account of her son’s battle with schizophrenia. Until Ben was 15, Kaye believed that patience, structure, therapy, and love were the solutions to Ben’s academic and social challenges, mood swings, and drug and alcohol abuse. Having struggled to find help for Ben as his illness went unnamed and incorrectly diagnosed, Kaye provides helpful and informative guideposts throughout the book. Now a teacher for, and advocate of, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Kaye covers everything from helping siblings understand a new family dynamic, to managing involuntary commitment proceedings, to getting patients “into the system.” Kaye readily acknowledges that no one learns this information voluntarily and reminds readers that it’s impossible to reason with mental illness. Along the way, she shares her fundamental belief in love, humor, and hope. This well-written, well-researched, and brutally honest book will provide information, inspiration, and encouragement for many parents. -Publishers’ Weekly, Reviewed on: 08/01/2011
“Ben Behind His Voices” details the struggles, initial defeats, sadness, subsequent victories, and joys of a family coming to terms with a son’s schizophrenia. Unlike purely “first hand” or “family” accounts, this book presents the viewpoints of all involved in this captivating family drama…This book is a good “up-close” description of all the ways mental illness affects families. ..(from) a mother who persevered through years of confusion, isolation, heartache, and bureaucracy to bring her son back to health.- NAMI Advocate, August 2011 – read full review here
It’s the reason parents fear the teenage years-the all-too-common story of a happy, well-adjusted child who slowly spirals into rebelliousness, disaffection, and apathy. Such teens may drop out of school or stop studying, indulge in drugs and alcohol, and possibly commit petty crime. When Kaye’s son Ben gradually became “troubled,” she tried all of the usual remedies: therapy, tough love, and special camps and schools, but nothing worked. Instead, he became increasingly emotionally unavailable and uninterested in taking care of himself and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Like many sufferers, Ben doesn’t acknowledge his illness and hates the side effects of the medication he needs to function. In the latter part of the book, Kaye describes what she goes through to ensure that her son takes his medication and has a safe place to live. VERDICT An illuminating portrait of a parent coping with the guilt and heartbreak that come from feeling like one can’t “fix” one’s child. Recommended for anyone who is involved with teens or those with mental disorders, and a darn good read for memoir fans.
A mother wrestles with the advent of her son’s schizophrenia and its long, painful unfolding….The author….is eminently helpful, particularly in the matter of self-medication, which so many of the mentally ill prefer to taking the medications that have been prescribed for them….Heartfelt and surely of help to those new to living with mentally ill loved ones of their own.
-Kirkus review, June 15 2011
“This book is a well written and compelling story of a mother’s unwavering love and hopefulness for her son and her belief in his ability to create a meaningful and fulfilling life by managing his schizophrenia. Kaye, bravely and insightfully, uses her experiences to assist other families in caring for their family members with mental illness by promoting education, support, and early intervention for diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.” – Kathryn Y. Raymond, M.S., A.P.R.N., Psychiatric Services 2013;
Ms. Kaye displays amazing strength by standing up to the mental health system, protecting her son, and, ultimately, letting him go so he could be as independent as possible. Her story is surprisingly easy to read, almost like a novel. You’re rooting for her, for Ben, and for his sister all the way. You will admire their courage as a family as they face the challenges of schizophrenia, when “normal” isn’t quite what they expected it would be. – Liz De Nesnera, TAKE CARE (National Family Caregivers Assn) -fall 2011
In my opinion, if you only read one book this year, it should be this one. Ben Behind His Voices is well written. It really is a book that should be read by everyone… I have nothing by the highest praise for Randye Kaye and Ben Behind His Voices: One Families Journey From the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope. – Michelle, August 2011. read full review here on MySpringfieldMommy
I love how this book shows hope and humanizes the problem of finding the right help for your child. I do know it helps show the true courage of all those who fight mental illness. – Lenore Webb, August 2011, read full review here on Goodreads
What bravery to share with others the struggle to find what is going on with one who has mental illness…his account is honest and shows how to do one’s best dealing with mental illness with love and honesty. – Lynette, August 2011, read full review here on Crazed Mind Blog
Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope is a new addition to our library and one that has received outstanding reviews from family members and professionals as a “must read” for families struggling with mental illness. The author, Randye Kaye, is a professional voice actor who has also become deeply involved with NAMI through her journey to find help for her son. It is well written, insightful, and ultimately full of hope for families – NAMI Colorado Springs
I just read the last page of your book, tears spilling from my eyes , lump in my throat and my heart swelling with the feeling of love. Your story as “Ben’s” Mom is a gift to anyone who has lived through mental illness – ST, Connecticut, April 2012
I wasn’t planning to read this while on a trip to London, but it was so gripping I had to take it with me. Randye Kaye’s story of her son’s gradual descent into schizophrenia,had me hoping and despairing by turns, but rooting for Ben all the way. … Randye’s compassionate eye is inspiring.- Gabi Coatsworth, August 2011, read full review here on Goodreads
One of the best books I’ve read this year. It touched me deep inside both as a parent and as a professional...I had no idea what to expect when I received it, but I didn’t think it would be so good, so well-written, and so insightful…Although non-fiction, it is a highly readable book and almost felt like I was reading a novel. It gripped me from the first page and I was riveted throughout. The pace, the dialogue, the added information boxes, and Randye Kaye’s own writing is amazing. – Library of Clean Reads, August 22, 2011 – read full review here
What I loved about this book was the honesty and openness that the author shares about her experiences with her son’s illness. This story is both inspirational and motivational. The book itself is more than a piece of writing, it is a resource and it is one that is written to allow for anyone affected by this illness to find solace and support in its pages.
One of the things that I did enjoy about the book were the stops along the way that the author named Chapter Guideposts. These sections were great as they help the reader to pause and reflect on what they are reading.Also, the book takes the reader through all of the phases of the journey that the author had with her own son and it is this journey that is truly captivating. This book is wonderfully written and keeps the reader engaged from page one. My thanks to the author for sharing her son and her family’s story!
–DadofDivas review, July 13 2011
I have nearly finished reading Randye’s book and I loved it. I started reading it at the beginning of the weekend and have not been able to put it down. (When a book can make me cry I know it’s a good one!) It was beautifully written, so touching and so informative at the same time. – Piety Nadro, August 10, 2011
Randye Kaye has a message for all of us. With courage and fortitude she embraces her son and all his symptoms. She doesn’t judge. She doesn’t give up. She loves. She hopes. And in this book she explains how other parents can follow her lead and learn from her years of extraordinary experience.
– Roberta Temes, Ph.D., author of Getting Your Life Back Together When You Have Schizophrenia
Poignant, stark, and the energy of the scenes are set up really well. This work has screenplay written all over it. The dialogue is wonderful and the pace of the story moves briskly.
– Nancy DeRosa, author of A Penny’s Worth, and There’s No Place Like Home
No one showed up with casseroles at our door. These are the words of Randye Kaye in her poignant new memoir, Ben Behind His Voices. Delving into her son’s paranoid schizophrenia, Kaye takes the reader on a journey of frustration, heartache, anger and love. It’s every parent’s nightmare, but this book is full of hope, knowledge and empathy. It will make you see mental illness for what it really is: a horribly misunderstood devastation of the mind and soul—a tragedy not just for its victims and their families, but for society. Tragic not merely because mental illness exists—but because we, as a community, prefer to ignore its existence. Ben, and millions like him, need you to read this book.
—Karen Winters Schwartz, author of Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family’s Journey Through Bipolar Disorder
Randye Kaye poignantly illustrates the value of the love of family as they, along with her son, Ben, struggle to make sense of the mental illness that impacts all of them. Randye and her family show unwavering commitment and love to Ben. As much as he has, at times, seemed hidden behind the voices of schizophrenia, this caring, devoted family has been with him every step of the way along with him. His struggle is theirs to share as can only be understood by family.
– Michael W Mackniak, Esq., MNMP, CBIS, Founder Melissa’s Project
Immediately, I was immersed. The time flew by unnoticed, and I didn’t want the chapters to end. Randye is a wonderful writer. I can feel and understand what’s happening in such a way that it’s almost as though it’s happening to me, instead of being told to me. This book is going to be a bible for so many who’ve had schizophrenia touch their lives as well as for those who wish to understand this debilitating disease. ”
– G. Gallo, actress
“Ben Behind his Voices reminds us that schizophrenia is an illness, but not necessarily an identity. It movingly depicts the difficulty and the importance of recognizing, accepting, and managing the symptoms of this disorder.”
John H. Krystal, M.D. -Chair, Department of Psychiatry -Yale University School of Medicine
What I find most compelling about Ben Behind His Voices is the author’s honesty as a mother about her true feelings. She connects with her readers because she allows herself to be human and vulnerable and share both her struggles and triumphs.
– Amy J. Barry, author of A Child’s Grief Journey and award-winning column, A Parent’s Eye View.
The book is too good to be true. I love the way Randye talks about her son; she is very direct about her experiences with mental illness in her family. This book is just what our family members are looking for when they learn their loved one has been diagnosed with any severe mental illness. The biggest question out there is whether there is any hope for them; I am pretty sure family members are going to find an answer as well as the understanding that will made a huge difference to all of them. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this book. I love it!
–Paloma B. Dee, NAMI-CT Family & Professional Education Program Director, CT
“Should be required reading for all psychology professionals and students, as well as anyone who loves or cares for someone suffering with schizophrenia. Incredibly well-written, profoundly honest and, perhaps, most importantly, Randye Kaye offers help and hope to thousands of families needing to hear her story. I sat holding my breath as I turned each page. The author is not only a survivor and an incredibly loving mother, she is – by any standards – a gifted writer.””
Linda Appleman Shapiro, psychotherapist/oral historian/author of Four Rooms Upstairs: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness.