Mental Health


Reaching the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services) in my library read through coincided with library programming concerning autism education training for staff and autism educational programming for patrons. The program was presented by a man named Stephen Viehweg. He is widely known in Indiana. This was the flyer for the program:

Stephan Viehweg Presentation

Being a former Special Education teacher, I was extremely interested in this topic. When I first reached the 360’s, the first books I picked up were about living with autism so the staff training couldn’t have been better timed for me. There is so much more known about autism now than when I was in the classroom and the current research into this condition is truly amazing.

While I realize that many high functioning autistic people do not think of autism as a mental health problem, the Dewey Decimal System lumps autism into this category which is why I am including it in this blog entry.

Look Me In the Eye Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison was an entertaining and very informative book about living with autism. It was also my first introduction to the work of John Elder Robison (who by the way is the brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors, a book that is about mental illness.) I was so impressed with Robison that I looked for other books he had written. I’m not normally a big fan of books on CD (BOCD), but Robison has two that I checked out.

The first of Robison’s books on CD  that I listened to was Switched On A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening.

Switched On

This BOCD held my attention in a way that few would. It is about an experimental treatment for people with autism (and depression) and how this treatment was life changing for Robison. I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in this topic.

The second BOCD of Robinson’s that I listened to was Raising Cubby.

Raising Cubby

This was also  very interesting. Robison’s son is autistic and the book explores a unique father / son relationship and an FBI investigation into Cubby’s interest in explosives. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in exploring the dynamics of families living with autism.

The next group of books in the 360 section pertain more to actual mental illnesses, disorders, and conditions. These are also topics of interest to me since I have studied Psychology.

Amen, Amen, Amen

Amen, Amen, Amen by Abby Sher is a book about a woman who lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I like books like this because they show how people are affected in their daily lives by mental illness. Abby Sher does a great job of explaining not only how OCD affects her own life, but the lives of all those around her.

After exploring OCD, I launched into a book about Bipolar Disorder.

A Promise of Hope

A Promise of Hope by Autumn Stringam  is a quick read and informative book. Stringam traces a history of Bipolar Disorder in her family as she describes her life experiences. After some very tragic occurances, Autumn’s father had had enough and set out to find a cure while enlisting the unlikely help of a pig feed salesman. Together the two men come up with a formula that now has the attention of the world. Their formula is completely natural and contains vitamins and minerals. It has a higher absorption rate than over the counter vitamins.  Autumn, who was probably at stage 4, is living proof of the formula’s success. Since Autum’s experience literally thousands of people have benefited from this remarkable product. Anyone suffering from bipolar or who knows someone suffering from bipolar should make this book a must read.

Bearing in mind that only a professional can make an actual diagnosis, if you are concerned that you or someone you know could be at risk for mental illness, there are some online screening tools that you can check out anonymously:

Moving along, I came to the book American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.

Image of American Psychosis: How the Federal Government Destroyed the Mental Illness Treatment System

This is not a book for the faint of heart. Academic in its presentation, it is not an easy read. If one can stick with the book it has some amazing facts to share. Torrey traces the beginnings of the mental health system and the psychiatric profession from the Kennedy administration to present day. This is a topic near and dear to my heart for reasons I don’t have time to get into in this post, but it has been a real eye opener in some areas. For me, this book also helped to fill in some gaps in my understanding of the psychiatric profession. It is essentially an attack on the mental health system and psychiatry both of which actually started out with political roots.

Torrey is doing some definite feather ruffling with this book while pointing out the need for a serious change. Many people can point to the need for change, but Torrey is trying to encourage and participate in major change.  He can’t do it alone though. To serve the most seriously mentally ill among us is going to require major changes in politics, in hospitals, community clinics, psychiatry, jails, law enforcement, nursing homes, board and care homes, and (re)education of just about everyone. All of us need to start somewhere though and this book is a great place to start.

Fitting in nicely with both Autumn Stringam’s and E. Fuller Torrey’s books is a movie called Generation Rx.


I haven’t made it to the movie section in my library exploration, but I would be remiss not to include a reference to this particular DVD. If you have children or grandchildren, know any child or adult who takes psychotropic drugs (Zoloft, Ritalin, Prozac, etc). You need to view this movie. Generation Rx is essentially a documentary that explores the safety of these types of drugs and the (often) junk science that these medications are based on. By educating yourself on this topic, you may literally save lives.


Public Administration & Military Science

Dog Soldiers

Halfway through the huge Social Sciences category, I arrived at books dealing with Public Administration & Military Science. This section had books with topics that include general considerations of public administration, specific fields of administration, public administration of economy & environment, foot forces & warfare, mounted forces & warfare, air and other specialized forces & warfare, engineering & related services, and sea forces & warfare.

I am a military brat. My father served in the Air Force. My husband served in the Army. We’ve had family members in the armed services which probably date back to recorded time. Additionally one of my brothers served in the Army and the other brother was a Navy SEAL. My nephew is a marine. All branches of the armed services are represented in my family. I grew up around air force bases and played in old planes as a child. Being a child I took my environment for granted and though I was exposed to this world, I now realize that I know very little about it. Because of my background I found this section as fascinating as it is informative.

There are many picture books in this section which are very helpful. I was able to trace the development of uniforms which turned out to be quite interesting. I hadn’t realized before the gradual changes uniforms have made not only in appearance, but also in technology. Picture books can trace uniform insignia or actual uniforms. As an example that even the jacket covers show one can trace U.S. army uniforms from 1755 to the present in The American Soldier U.S. Armies in uniform, 1755 to the present by Philip Katcher

The American Soldier to current and  futuristic uniforms in 21st Century Soldier by Frank Vizard and Phil Scott, Popular Science.

21st Century Soldier

From all of the pictures it is interesting to note how the tools of a soldier are carried on or in addition to their uniforms which seem to have been gradually changing over time to the point where the uniform itself is becoming a major weapon and defense armor.

There is one tool of a soldier that can not be given enough credit-soldier dogs.

Soldier Dogs

Dogs have been present in every US engagement and operation in some capacity since WWII (and probably before that). It was a military dog named Cairo working with Navy SEALS that took down Osama Bin Laden. The book Soldier Dogs by Maria Goodavage is a must read. Goodavage traces the involvement of working military dogs (WMD) in history and explains what it takes to make the cut as a WMD. There are both heart warming and heart wrenching dog stories included in this book in which handlers tell the stories of many unsung heroes.

For more about soldier dogs, check out these blogs: