On Sept. 1, 2010, Kelly M. Rindfleisch, deputy chief of staff to then Milwaukee county executive Scott Walker, said, “No one cares about crazy people,” and so starts No One Cares About Crazy People, My Family and the Heartbreak of Mental Illness in America throughout which Ron Powers takes readers on a journey that is not only very personal but also informational. Powers begins with a brief introduction to his family’s struggles with mental health. In alternating chapters, he bravely shares the tragic story of his sons who suffer from schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder. Both Kevin and Dean turned to illegal drugs to seemingly self-medicate before they knew their diagnoses. Afterward, they battled anosognosia, which is “the false conviction with a person that nothing is wrong with his mind,” making treatment, including legal medicines, unnecessary in the boys’ opinions. Sadly, Kevin, the younger brother, committed suicide, and Dean attempted it.
In the remaining chapters of his book, Powers expertly weaves science for laypersons, the history and politics of mental health, and the business of mental health disorders in the United States. As someone whose own family has fought with mental health issues, I learned so much more about the heroes and villains of the past — regardless of political affiliation or intentions — as well as the current players, whether individuals or entities, such as the pharmaceutical industry.
How Powers packs all of the stories and information into a 331-page book that is quickly read, I do not know other than he is a consummate author who writes from experience and, most importantly, the heart. What I do know is that I feel blessed for having chosen a book solely based upon a title and a cover photo that spoke to me and my own story.