Recovery in the Media: #68. Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story

Henry's Demons

This story by father and son tells the truth about the struggles and recovery process of schizophrenia.

68. Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story by Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn

Schizophrenia is a disorder that many people know about but few fully understand. People with it are characterized as crazy, murderous, vicious, impossible to interact with, etc. However, there is much more to these people than those negative conotations. Awhile ago, I wrote a review of A Beautiful Mind. For this Media Monday, I decided to focus on another recovery-focused work about suicide, this time a book titled Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story.

Synopsis: What can be worse than receiving news that your 20-year-old son followed the voices instructions and tried to drown himself? Patrick Cockburn and his wife experienced this with their son Henry, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. This book, written by father and son, rides the ups and downs of this family’s life with this life-altering illness. Mother and father fight for their son to improve while he tries to convince the world that he is not ill. This and many other tensions fill this fascinating memoir.

Recovery Pluses: Obviously, this memoir focuses on mental illness especially schizophrenia. For those interested in learning more about the disease and gaining awareness, this is more interesting than a medical book while still being accurate. Real life situations and problems are addressed not only for the person struggling with the disorder but also for the family involved. The pain, triumphs, setbacks, frustrations, and loving moments make this story relatable for parents, siblings, and other caregivers.

Even though the parents bring great care and desire for healing to Henry, his perspective and longing to be taken seriously are not shown as stupid. Just that fact that he is the co-author shows that his family wanted to hear his voice as well. This can be helpful for those with mental illness. Few of us (if any) really want our disease. Believing that our brain functions normally can be less painful than facing the truth. Henry must learn to take his medication and believe his doctors despite his conviction that he was not sick. Listening to our support people can be difficult, but it often brings less pain in the end.

Medical personal should also read this book to better understand the thoughts of their patients. Yes, text books and studying is helpful. However, learning from real people like Henry is also a good idea. Hearing the father’s perspective makes this an even better resource of information. Before curing someone, you must care about him or her and understand how the human brain works with different types of illnesses.

Cautions: This novel refuses to sugarcoat schizophrenia. Henry’s struggles are not pretty to read about, but that makes his parents response and his acceptance of recovery all the more crucial. Memoirs should be honest instead of frightened of scaring the reader. Some language, violence, and troubling scenes are in the book. Teenagers and older would be the most appropriate audience.

Perhaps you are fascinated with the idea of schizophrenia and want to know more about it, or maybe you have a family member with the illness and feel lost at how to deal with it. Whatever situation you are in, Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story can be a great book to read. The Cockburn’s story has the ability to help those caring for or diagnosed with this disorder as well as raise awareness about schizophrenia. The switching of narratives, emphatic characters, and powerful memories all make this an inspiring book.

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3 thoughts on “Recovery in the Media: #68. Henry’s Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son’s Story

  1. This is a very good examination on this topic. In fact I have GAD and MDD and it caused me to nearly find a permanent solution to a seemingly inexorable problem. What I have learned is turning it around and owning my own solutions.

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