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Hidden Valley Road
“Schizophrenia is among the most ruthless of diseases, suddenly erupting in a life, often in adolescence, and turning it inside out in ways few treatments have been able to solve. That's what happened to six of the twelve children in the Galvin family in Colorado in the '60s and '70s, creating a house of turmoil for the stricken and their family members, but also a rich genetic record for researchers desperate to solve the disease's puzzle. With an empathetic and scientific mastery that will remind many readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Kolker weaves the devastating but still humane story of the Galvins together with the often equally frustrating history of schizophrenia's many failed treatments, and brings the two storylines together to offer some hope for the future. A superbly compelling book.”Tom,
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF GQ's TOP 50 BOOKS OF LITERARY JOURNALISM IN THE 21st CENTURY • The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand the disease.
"Reads like a medical detective journey and sheds light on a topic so many of us face: mental illness." —Oprah Winfrey
Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins--aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony--and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?
What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.
With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.