Henry’s Demons, review

Henry's Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son's StoryHenry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story by Patrick Cockburn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Henry’s Demons is an insightful look into both the family experience when schizophrenia strikes a loved one, and into the U.K. System of care.  As a parent in the United states, I couldn’t help but compare Henry’s experience (e.g. months at a time in the hospital) to my son Ben’s story here in the United States, where it seems that every day the hospital must justify the stay to the insurance companies.  I must admit, I was a bit jealous at first; yet, I don’t see that Henry benefited much from his extended stays, so maybe not. Hmmm.

Cockburn writes movingly and intelligently about his father’s-eye view of Henry’s illness and the actions it triggers; as a journalist, though, he focuses on many of the issues and facts more than his emotions about Henry’s illness.  Through Henry’s chapters – a unique feature of this book – we get a view of what incidents were like from the point of view of someone who is suffering from schizophrenia, and actually hearing the “voices” that encourage him.

We don’t get to know Henry much before his illness, though there are glimpses.

Henry spends a lot of time hospitalized; he also spends a great deal of time escaping. How is this so easy to accomplish? Yet, I have no doubt that every word is true.

This is a great addition to anyone’s understanding of the family experience when mental illness strikes. Indeed, it can happen in any family.

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