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Providing a firsthand look at the effects of mental illness on families and friends, a compassionate resource provides emotional support and guidance for friends and family of the mentally ill. When Madness Comes Home is a beautifully written, meticulously researched, well-organized book that is inflected by the author's special empathy as the sister of someone with schizophrenia. Its subtitle, Help and Hope for the Children, Siblings, and Partners of the Mentally Ill, is an accurate description of what a reader will find in its pages. She introduces herself with a painful passage about committing her sister for treatment, and then begins at the beginning: "Telling someone that there's mental illness in your family, and watching the reaction, is not for the fainthearted."
Secunda has interviewed scores of sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, and spouses of people afflicted with schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, debilitating depression, and other serious afflictions. She allows them to speak for themselves, while gently guiding the reader toward insights, coping strategies, knowledge, and compassion.
Tactfully avoiding criticism of parents or medical professionals, Secunda nonetheless makes it clear that her concerns lie elsewhere. Her only misstep is billing hers as the first "major" book to address "these other victims," when Julie Tallard Johnson, founder of the Sibling and Adult Children's Network of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, wrote the groundbreaking book, Hidden Victims: An Eight-Stage Healing Process for Families and Friends of the Mentally Ill, more than 10 years before. Secunda's own extensive bibliography and her many useful quotes amply recognize those who have examined this territory before her. Her book is wonderful, but we can be thankful that it is only one of a growing number written for those whose lives are often shattered but whose pain is still largely ignored. --Margaret Moorman