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Book: Surrounded By Madness - A Memoir of Mental Illness and Family Secrets by Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D.

Book: Surrounded By Madness - A Memoir of Mental Illness and Family Secrets by Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D.

categories: Book, Memoir, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Secrets, Psychology, Stigma, Family, Emotional Loss, Mental Illness


Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D.

Author Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D.about this book: Surrounded By Madness chronicles my experiences as a daughter of mother AND a mother of a daughter with severe mental illness within the context of my professional experience as a leading scientist involved in the study of mental illness and family dynamics.

Mental illness and mental health policy is highly relevant topic to virtually all of us. The National Institute of Mental Health and National Alliance on Mental Illness both estimate that approximately 1 in 4 Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental illness each year. In fact, more people suffer from mental illness than from cancers, heart diseases, stroke/vascular diseases, and diabetes combined. Yet, unlike with other ailments, we tend to hide mental illness because of its stigma, and we suffer more than necessary as a result.

I decided to write Surrounded By Madness because of the need for people to really understand what mental illness looks like and the destructive power it has on both the person with mental illness and their family. There are many memoirs out there telling of mental illness, but virtually all follow the same formula: turmoil, more turmoil, and then a happy ending of conquering the mental illness demon and going on to live a productive and fulfilling life. But these stories are the very rare one-in-a-million exceptions, the fairy tales. What is missing from the mental illness memoir literature are stories that are typical of the rest of us where mental illness wrecks havoc, turmoil, and destruction that is pervasive and relentless. At the same time, Surrounded By Madness tells a story of resilience and transformation and, in this way, offers a sense of inspiration and empowerment to others whose lives are impacted by mental illness.

The cover art featured on Surrounded By Madness, an image entitled "Disease Onset," is the work of artist Amber Christian Osterhout. Disease Onset is one of the six images comprising the Gaining Insight exhibit that Osterhout created after her younger brother developed paranoid schizophrenia. The Gaining Insight exhibit is intended to help educate others about the realities of mental illness and help end its stigma. The entire series of images of the Gaining Insight exhibit can be viewed by visiting

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