A fascinating family memoir by Boston journalist and author Patrick Tracey is the story of one Irish-American’s search for the origins of the schizophrenia that has plagued his family for five generations in Ireland and America. Rather than subjecting the reader to a depressing journey through multi-generational insanity, Patrick Tracey explores his “family secret” through an often amusing, and always informative, travelogue through the Irish countryside, history, mythology and psychology. Beyond the original premise of his journey, Tracey’s book also examines the current, conflicted Irish perspective on Irish-Americans, the “in’s and out’s” of life in Irish campgrounds and the keys to finding people and places in a land where road signs and directions are often unfathomable.
Of course, the greatest mystery that Tracey explores is schizophrenia itself, a misunderstood medical condition that is frighteningly common among all nationalities. A disorder that suddenly traps young adults in perpetual waking nightmares, full of loud voices and sensory hallucinations, the causes and treatment of schizophrenia remain elusive. The information that Tracey provides about this particularly tragic medical mystery was surprising to me, disabusing me of some commonly-held misconceptions.
Anyone familiar with South Florida’s downtowns and urban parks knows that schizophrenics are a common sight here. “Mainstreaming” and the closing of most mental hospitals here and across America have resulted in thousands of schizophrenics being put out onto the streets to fend for themselves. After reading Tracey’s book, I can’t ever again look at these “street people” with casual annoyance or indifference.
Visit the STALKING IRISH MADNESS website at: http://stalkingirishmadness.com
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