People with mental illness are often stigmatized, both in the U.S. and around the world. Paradoxically, many in the mental health professions are themselves the source of a great deal of such stigma. Theoretical models in psychology and psychiatry have often blamed family members for causing mental illness, and too many practitioners and scientists hold to "us versus them" attitudes, showing extreme reluctance to admit personal and family experiences of mental illness. In this book, mental health professionals and scientists, ranging from newly trained individuals to seasoned clinicians and researchers, tell their own and their families' stories of mental disorder, providing an unprecedented level of honesty and disclosure. The volume presents moving and inspiring narratives of serious mental disorder in individuals who have decided to focus their careers on mental illness in others. The editor, who has previously disclosed his own family's struggles with his father's lifelong, misdiagnosed bipolar disorder, utilizes his own experiences to integrate, synthesize, and provide perspective on these revealing contributions.
Through both personal narratives and accounts of parents, siblings, or offspring, the contributors convey the serious impairments that can accrue to those with mental illness, the strength and courage that emanate from such experiences, and the ways in which these experiences have contributed to their own decisions to enter the mental health field. Providing a humanizing portrayal of mental disorder, this volume will be indispensable reading for those in the mental health professions, trainees across many related fields, family members, persons contending with mental illness, and all those who wish to know more about the effects of mental illness on our society. Its stark stories of pain and impairment, and its clear messages of hope and courage, will inspire those working in the mental health professions, as well as their clients, for years to come.