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Book Review

Aid To The Affected: Surviving Schizophrenia

E. Fuller Torrey, Phd.

To be sure, there's no perfect book regarding schizophrenia, one supplying the affected person and their family answers to the myriad questions pervading the illness. Psychiatrist and schizophrenia researcher Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, however, comes close to filling the void with the excellent "Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual". 

In concise, clear terms, Dr. Torrey outlines his core assertion: schizophrenia is a brain disease, requiring treatment and medication. Pointing to evident genetic and biological factors, he resists the popular misconception of blaming family behavior for causing their loved one's illness. His argument entreats the family to use efficacy in demanding treatment, rather that endure the self-recrimination incurred from a loved one's diagnosis. 

From this center, Torrey builds a premise emphasizing creation of an environment to foster recovery, wholly or in part, for the schizophrenic. Frankly discussing many of the issues stemming from life with the disease, Torrey suggests coping mechanisms for both the sufferer and their family. Be it a legal, societal, or lifestyle concern, all are addressed in straight-forward fashion. 

Even in discussing government's apathy toward provision of decent hospital and after-care facilities, Torrey calmly presents criticism, despite his obvious frustration at the lack of change. Using as an example the negligent warehousing, and equally irresponsible deinstitutionalization policies affecting the schizophrenic population, he illustrates the necessity of increased involvement of the families in demanding decent levels of funding and reform to the mental health system used by their loved ones. 

Torrey's greatest aid to those affected comes in the form of lists of organizations supporting various facets of schizophrenia in appendices at the back of the book. (A caveat: for the most current information, please consult the 2001 revised edition.) There is no better way to encourage people who live with the illness to take action than to find and share experiences with others who face the same problem. 

Were it up to me, upon a family member's diagnosis, psychiatrists should be compelled to give a copy of "Surviving Schizophrenia" to the family, to aid them. I can't say it would saves lives; I honestly believe it would improve the quality of life for many who suffer this disease.

Micheal Head, Reviewer.

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