Thanks to North Shore Schizophrenia, for their review!
The story of Randye Kaye’s son’s descent into psychosis and the long road to recovery reads like a diary, complete with dialogue, commentary, and an account of her own emotions as each incident and turn of events unfolds. You would think the attention to detail would weigh down the reader, but it has the opposite effect. It carries the reader along.
If you’re someone who has watched a member of your family fall ill, it will also
bring you to tears – not tears of sadness but, if there are such things, tears of
delight at how she got things so right. There’s a fair chance that in reading Ben
Behind His Voices, which is told by Kaye in the first person, you will be reading
your own story as well.
Her son Ben, a bright, energetic and creative kid, began to show signs of
difficulty in his mid-teens, when he first went to high school. He started to withdraw. A previous straight-A
student, he struggled with academic subjects. He declared to his mother that all the other students were
against him. He wouldn’t take advice.
When he was just fifteen, he broke down one night in sobs after a big argument with his mother. “What’s
wrong with me, Mom? Please, please, find me someone to talk to.”
We, the reader, know what’s happening, but we only know because we’ve been there. Kaye hadn’t. She did
find him someone to talk to – all kinds of people as the illness progressed. She was highly skilled, able to
analyze, had good connections, also had a good income (she was a major radio show personality), and was
willing to go to any length to help him, but still she was confounded by what was happening. The chaos was
School teachers and counsellors, leaders at alternate programs, and a long list of psychiatrists failed to put
their finger on what was wrong. In the meantime, his behaviour became more erratic and bizarre. “New
normal” was replaced by another “new normal” seemingly without end.
Finally there was a turning point. She got the right diagnosis and Ben’s recovery got underway. As the book
ends, he’s (responding to medication), and is still fragile and lacking insight, but he’s getting back on his
feet. Kaye herself, among many other things, is training Family-to-Family teachers in her
home state of Connecticut.