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.


26 thoughts on “Mental Health

  1. Thank you for another excellent post on library book topics! You are quite the reader and thanks for sharing your reviews and insights of these books and the movie. I am interested in seeing Generation Rx, I definitely think we are an overmedicated culture. .

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I too am of the opinion that we are an over medicated culture–particularly with the psychotropic drugs. I do realize that some people may be helped but I think we need to quit throwing pills at everything and get to the root of the problem. I will be interested to know what you think of Generation Rx once you’ve had a chance to watch it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for these articles. Mental health is very important to our family, as I battle with bipolar, and borderline personality. I agree that the norm is to throw pills at everything, which I do know mine is caused by a medical imbalance, but I also know that I have been suicidal in the past, what makes me somewhat different is that I think about the ones I would leave behind, and I can’t do that to my family.

        I really thank you for your blog, I really miss the Rochester Public Library and hopefully our family will be home soon.

        Due to having many friends, and a niece who committed suicide, I feel like somewhat of an expert, not that I want to be, when it comes to suicide. As a youth minister, I have seen this affect too many young people, and the person, I wanted to save the most, slipped through my fingers, but I am coming to grips with it. I just find your blog to be an inspiration to me. I just want to say thank you. I want to focus on writing, I feel that I am a pretty good writer, and maybe I can help someone through the pain I have experienced. This is why your blog is an inspiration to me.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Amen. There’s an artificial divide between legal and illegal drugs. That the health professions look to pills before lifestyle changes for symptoms like high blood pressure is more evidence of a society addicted to drugs.

    The new wave of anti-cholesterol drugs (statins), like Lipitor, is motivated by good marketing, patents, and Wall Street profits. I read that 25% of people over 40 are on statins, yet there is minimal proof that they do any good, and they may be harmful. The doctors read and believe what the medical journals report, but these are funded by pharmaceutical company advertising.

    I’d like to read “American Psychosis” sometime. Will check it out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it’s amazing what you learn when you start looking–even just a little bit–below the surface of statistics, information about drugs and/or drug companies, and the like. I would be interested in knowing your thoughts on American Psychosis when you do read it. It is definitely your type of book with the history and government aspects!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Mental health is one of my most beloved subjects. The 616-618 section is also devoted to mental health, in case you wanted to pour into the subject again in your project. 🙂 I found an eye-opening book about hoarding from that section, which I read for my own library project, and there were a ton more I added to my list!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mental Health issues are also near and dear to my heart. I’m sure I will be perusing mental health related books when I get to the 610’s section although that will be awhile since I’m still in the 360’s! I looked up the categories for 616-618 and they are “diseases, surgery, and gynecology.” Hoarding is also a subject for the 360’s. The psychological aspects surrounding hoarding are very interesting. What is the name of the book you read? Do you have a post about it yet?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I passed by the 600s today at my library and realized I was wrong – the mental illness books are only in 616, not 17 or 18. I’m not sure why I thought that – must have seen some books mishelved. It makes more sense now. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Shannon, I also meant to say that sometimes books can be categorized in more than one category. For example, some topics such as Alzheimers might be thought of as a mental issue (or causing mental issues) or it can actually also be categorized as a disease. At times where to place a book might be up to the discretion of the cataloger in a Dewey system.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was so interesting. We have a little girl in our lives who is on the autism scale, and I’ve learned so much about this. I think that my daughter is also on the scale somewhere, and my reading about it has helped me understand her and myself so much better, now. I wish I’d realized it when she was younger, but I did do a lot of things that were good for her instinctively. Good post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. So much more is now known about autism than even a few years ago. It sounds like you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. Also the people with autism who are higher functioning (affectionately known as Aspergians) are often so intelligent that they hide autistic traits in their younger years. Hindsight is usually 20/20.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know this an old post, but I am wondering if our son Stanley could be autistic. He is highly energetic, very smart, but has a very low attention span. He can speak words in Tagalog, Wray-Wray,Cebuano, and English. He is an Filipino-American, not that I like that term, If we are an American, then we are American no matter our heritage.

    I do not want to push him too hard, because he is normally a good boy, but goes from good behavior to tantrums in moments. He has been hitting at times. We do discipline him, and it does work, but I am wondering if some of this could be a result of developmental problems.

    We almost lost him as a baby, and my wife did lose our second child. He was intensive care, in an incubator for over two weeks. He was allowed to come out for breast feeding only. This is the bad part, he was actually feeding on his mother’s waste for some time due to a delayed birth. My wife was in labor for three days, but miraculously she gave birth naturally, and we were in a terrible bus accident, and just wonder if something is not right with him. He seems to be behind other children developmentally.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not sure about the Phillipines. In the US most children aren’t tested for learning disabilities until around the third grade unless it’s an obvious and very drastic developmental delay. The fact you are thinking autism suggests a lot of intelligence. It is also possible that what you have described is a maturity issue. If you are extremely concerned, I would suggest talking to Stanley’s teachers.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am not extremely concerned at this point. The teachers seem to think it is behavioral problems. But I also know that he is very intelligent. He is like one of his cousins, who could read and write in eight different languages. Of course at his age, he cannot do that. But he can speak words in three Filipino dialects, and English.

        He has the ability to create beautiful creations with legos. He is extremely intelligent, he has a beautiful memory. He will ask me about a picture he has seen on tv, and it could be weeks after he has seen it. If he misplaces a lego, he will know what color the lego is that is missing.

        Liked by 2 people

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