On Being a Parent to Someone with Schizophrenia

I have been pulling a lot of quotes, recently, from Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree.  The book is wonderful, although too long. It could have used a more aggressive editor.  Nevertheless, it is chock full of great stories and great ideas.  Here is a Solomon quote I feel compelled to share, which captures how good the book can be when it is good. He has already finished writing about Down syndrome and Autism, and is now tackling Schizophrenia:


 “The trauma of Down syndrome is that it is present prenatally and can therefore undermine the early stages of bonding. The challenge of autism is that it sets in or is detected in the toddler years, and so transfigures the child to whom parents have already bonded. The shock of schizophrenia is that it manifests in late adolescence or early adulthood, and parents must accept that the child they have known and loved for more than a decade may be irrevocably lost, even as that child looks much the same as ever.”

Hard to imagine a situation worse for parent and child. Yet good parenting is still so important in this setting, as Solomon later acknowledges:

“Schizophrenia cannot be cured with encouragement and love alone, but it can be hugely exacerbated by neglect.”

This book is worth owning, so you can pick up a chapter at a time, and see what Solomon has to say.

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