Hidden Valley Road

Hidden Valley Road

Inside the Mind of An American Family

Book - 2020
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"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 the other, 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 amidst 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."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, 2020
ISBN: 9780735274457
Characteristics: xxi, 377 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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LCPL_Cathy Nov 25, 2020

Hidden Valley Road tells the story of a family devastated by schizophrenia. Six of the Galvin family’s twelve children would be diagnosed with the mental illness. The book also tells the history of schizophrenia as well as the research that might offer hope for the future. I highly recommend this book. The author brings each member of the family to life and treats them with compassion and dignity. He also makes the medical information interesting and easy to understand for the layperson

JCLAmyF Nov 13, 2020

This fascinating book explores the intersection of social pressures and psychopharmacology on a very unique family.

MrFrida Oct 04, 2020

Mr. Kolker is a journalist and author. His writing is exemplary. The book is richly written with extensive detail. Mr. Kolker tells the story of the Galvin family in the context of post-World War II American culture. The returning veteran, married couple raising a family in pursuit of the “American Dream”. Parents Don and Mimi raise twelve children (ten boys and two girls) in their house on Hidden Valley Road. Mr. Kolker presents vivid family history. His writing includes a parallel story for the development of mental health care, science, and principles specific to schizophrenia. The story of the Galvin family intertwines with the story for the development of mental health care. Each story impacts the other. The stories include the struggle between nurture versus nature and the impact of that struggle for the Galvin family. The story tells of the family’s participation with mental health care researchers. The book is a page turner. The story is told in a clear, at times painfully truthful, and empathetic manner. One can feel for the family and its struggles over the years. This is a remarkable story to read and to learn from. Mr. Kolker includes extensive notes for his sources, an index, and full bibliography

Sep 28, 2020

What courage for the daughters to bring the family story forward. It’s not only the family story but also the recount of the researches and scientific discoveries and people behind them over the last century. Most of all, the book delivers an intense awareness of mental illnesses and the sufferings of all those involved. Great writing by the author as well.

Aug 05, 2020

This might not end up in my favourite books of 2020 but it will definitely be one of the books that provoked the most thought, opinion and emotion for me. I was just itching to talk to someone about it the whole time I was reading. There were many engaging hooks to this book. The progression of the treatment of mental illness over the decades was certainly interesting as were the dynamics of the family relationships in this very large, deeply damaged family. However it was the parents, and in particular the mother of this family that captured my attention the most. My emotional reactions were all over the place with her. I was at times, disapproving, angry or even bewildered with her. At other times I felt like her biggest advocate. Sometimes my heart just ached for her. I don't know where she found the strength to get up and face each day. The story in this book is a true tragedy. That so much misfortune could rain down on one family is almost unbelievable.

Jul 21, 2020

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be the perfect couple and their family large though it was - twelve children in all - seemed to be ideal too, But alas the train that was steaming along got derailed. Six of the ten sons were diagnosed with Schizophrenia. The two daughters escaped but suffered regardless as they were sexually abused. This is a heart-rending story of one American family and what goes on inside their minds. They played a large role in genetic research and one wonders if they would have suffered less had they been born say fifty years later. Robert Kolker has documented the trauma that this family suffered (and caused,) really well. Every mental health professional and mental health consumer needs to read this book.

Jun 26, 2020

Written with a keen interest in the vast effects of schizophrenia in the Galvin family. I'm awestruck at how a family with 12 children strive for normalcy much less when many will develop psychotic symptoms and turn their unusual world into a nightmare. Science and research has changed in the field yet still there is so much to be done. On Delisi, a researcher: "As she walked through the door of the house at Hidden Valley Road, she couldn't help but recognize a perfect sample. This could be the most mentally ill family in America."
You can't make this stuff up.

CCPL_Aggie May 26, 2020

This is such a heartbreaking book. The story of the incredible tragedy of Mimi and Don Galvin and their family, in which 6 of their 12 children were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The book details the stories of the each of the six boys who developed the disease and how it changed the entire family and led to more tragedy. It is also a modern medical detective story including detailed historical treatments of the disease and this family's part in solving its mysteries. Not an easy read, but worth it to know some suffering did indeed eventually help others.

May 10, 2020

This is a heart-breaking story of a family with twelve children, six of whom were later diagnosed with schizophrenia. The reader is introduced to the family through the eyes of the youngest, a girl who never succumbed to mental illness herself, but being surrounded by it was impacted along with the rest of the family. It is a hard book to read. One that you want to put down and not pick up again, but the need to find out how the family copes overrides the fear of discovering more sadness. It is also a look at how schizophrenia was dealt with in the 1950’-1970’s and how this family helped with research. I cannot imagine what it was like to have to pretend their lives were normal. I think about how a family like this would have been shunned when I was growing up. Through Kolker’s compassionate writing, I felt like I knew each member of the family.

🥗 All right, you guys, NO salad dressing jokes!

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