The Cliffs of Schizophrenia: A Mother and Son Perspective

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The Cliffs of Schizophrenia offers a wholly unique perspective on what it’s like to grapple with the highs and lows of schizophrenia as both a sufferer and a caregiver. While there are many nonfiction books and novels centered around the perspective and relationships that orbit sufferers of depression and anxiety, the pickings become slim when it comes to positive or even realistic representations of cognitive, psychotic, or personality disorders. I find this to be incredibly unfortunate as the perpetuation of misinformation surrounding these less well known and accepted disorders contributes to sustaining dangerous stereotypes that massively impact the amount of funding, care, and social empathy people with misunderstood mental health issues have access to.

This book takes on a multi-perspective approach, with Jake and his mother Laurette taking turns writing each chapter; offering a startling contrast in perception for the seemingly innocuous, everyday events that trigger or soothe flares of the anxiety, paranoia, delusion, and depression that often accompany the disorder. It’s this creative approach that distinguishes it from other books offering up singular perspectives on the schizophrenic experience, such as Esme Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias, and makes it indispensable to caregivers and friends whose loved ones struggle with the disorder.

I found the chapters detailing the state of our country’s mental health-care system to be incredibly disheartening. Jake’s family’s struggle to help him get the appropriate diagnosis, medication, and care, coupled with their mounting debt, while also highlighting the ever-present ineptitude of caregivers and staff was eye-opening. Even alongside their successes, my heart ached for how difficult it was for Laurette to balance her family’s needs alongside her own while battling a system riddled with cracks. Jake’s own willingness to seek out help being tempered by his mind’s absolute surety of its delusions while he valiantly tries to carve out a life for himself as an independent adult really showcased the strength and determination people with this disease have to employ every single day just to keep afloat.

The love and understanding with which Jake and Laurette share their experiences and hard-won understanding makes this book an absolute must read not only for anyone with a friend or loved one with the condition, but also for mental health care providers and therapists. Jake is a whole person, defined by his creativity and perseverance despite his illness. The fact that his family not only kept fighting for his care but also for his independence makes him incredibly lucky; hopefully we’ll see more books like this that humanize our mentally ill friends and neighbors and try to foster understanding over fear.

Reviewed By:

Author Jake McCook and Laurette McCook
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 246 pages
Publisher BookBaby
Publish Date 15-Dec-2023
ISBN 9798350925968 Buy this Book
Issue April 2024
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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