Reading List

For Families of People with Serious Mental Illness

Factual Information

  • The Broken Brain: The Biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy C. Andreasen (Harper and Row 1984) – Provides a very readable discussion of the bio-medical aspects of serious mental illnesses, including a description of how the brain works.
  • The Caring Family: Living with Chronic Mental Illness by Kayla Bernheim, Richard Lewine and Caroline Beale (Random House 1982) – Gives good advice to families regarding the feelings and practical problems resulting from having a relative with a serious mental illness. Does not describe different types of illnesses.
  • Overcoming Depression by D. and J. Papolos (Harper and Row 1987) – A comprehensive, basic book on mood disorders (unipolar and bipolar) for family members, friends and the ill person.
  • Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on Mentally Ill Persons by Jean K. Bouricius (NAMI Book No. 3, 1989) – A handbook about medication for patients and families.
  • Schizophrenia: Straight Talk for Families and Friends by Maryellen Walsh (Warner Books, 1986) – An emotional and touching book, full of understanding, some practical advice, written in a very readable style with a sense of humour.
  • Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. (Revised Edition, Harper and Row 1988) – This is a book that families have found helpful.
  • When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness: A Handbook for Family, Friends, and Caregivers by Rebecca Woolis (J.P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2003) – Offers a description of mental illnesses, their treatments, and practical advice for dealing with the numerous day-to-day issues caregivers face.

Personal Stories

  • Anguished Voices: Personal Accounts of Siblings and Children of People with Mental Illness Monograph, edited by Rex M. Dickens and Diane T. Marsh (Boston Univ. Center of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Reprint Service, 1994) – compelling personal accounts of the impact of growing up with mental illness in the family.
  • The Four of Us: A Family Memoir by Elizabeth Swados (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991) – Probably the most extensive account to date of the impact upon a sibling as well as his parents of a family member’s mental illness.
  • He Was Still My Daddy: Coming to Terms with Mental Illness by Laurie Samsel Olson (Ogden House Publishing, 1994) – A very poignant, personal and frank description of what it is like growing up with a father who developed paranoid schizophrenia.
  • My Sister’s Keeper by Margaret Moorman (Norton, 1992) – A most insightful description of how a sibling learns to cope with mental illness as well as its impact on the rest of the family.
  • Searching for Mercy Street by Linda G. Sexton (Little, Brown, and Co., 1994) – Written by the daughter of the poet Anne Sexton who also suffered from bipolar disorder. Good for adult children of people with mental illness.
  • We Heard the Angel’s of Madness: One Family’s Struggle with Manic Depression by Diane and Lisa Berger (William Morrow and Co., 1991) – A mother’s account of her 18 year old son’s return from college and onset of his manic depressive illness.

For Professionals and Families Regarding Adults with Serious Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorders

  • Behavioral Family Therapy for Psychiatric Disorders by K. Mueser and G. Glynn (Allyn and Bacon, 1995) – Focuses exclusively and in-depth on long term (one year) psycho-education in the individual family format.
  • Family Caregiving in Mental Illness by H. Lefley (Sage, 1996) – Comprehensive overview of roles, families play in caring for relatives with mental illness. Discusses historical perspectives, different family members and life-cycle issues.
  • Families and Mental Illness: New Directions in Professional Practice by D. Marsh (Praeger, 1992) – Provides a positive framework for working with families but gives few specific clinical interventions.
  • Helping Families Cope with Mental Illness edited by H. Lefley and M. Wasow (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994)- Family-professional relationships, services for families, training and research, and future directions.
  • Psychiatric Rehabilitation by W.A. Anthony (Boston University, 1990) – Overview of the attitudes, programmatic elements and strategies of psychosocial rehabilitation.
  • Schizophrenia: Family Education Methods by Christopher Amenson (Pacific Clinics Institute, 1998) – Overview and manual for working with families of people with a variety of serious mental illnesses.
  • Staying Sober: A Guide for Relapse Prevention by T. Gorski (Independence Press, 1986) – Widely used paradigm for dual diagnosis groups.
  • When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness: A Handbook for Family, Friends, and Caregivers by Rebecca Woolis (J.P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1992) – Offers a description of mental illnesses, their treatments, and practical advice for dealing with the numerous day-to-day issues caregivers face.
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