Another Kind of Madness
by Stephen P. Hinshaw
St Martin’s Press
As a child, Stephen Hinshaw always sensed explanations were incomplete when it came to his father’s disappearances. That feeling grew into fear his dad would never return. The worst part, he writes, was that no one talked about “it”. Hinshaw has since spent “a lifetime” piecing together events from the sometimes tortured existence of his father, an otherwise calm, philosophical academic, whose schizophrenia (although Hinshaw believes it to be bipolar disorder) would see him removed from his family, admitted to hospital, sometimes for months, and given electroconvulsive and insulin coma therapies.
Such was the stigma surrounding mental illness that even Hinshaw’s mother was not fully aware of her husband’s condition, which she witnessed turn into full-blown manic episodes in the 1950s, when she was pregnant with the author.
Hinshaw, now a University of California, Berkeley psychology professor, argues that stigma – and silence caused by shame – is another kind of madness, responsible for disastrous outcomes and partly to blame for intergenerational transmission of mental illness. He also dismisses the “experts” who attributed his father’s madness to all-biological or all-psychological causes. Hinshaw’s message is clear. He also declares: “Don’t let anyone tell you that bipolar disorder is just a lifestyle choice.”