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 Institutes 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. With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love and hope.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2020].
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385543767
Characteristics: xxi, 377 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm.


From Library Staff

What a wild true story of a family with 12 children, half of them schizophrenic.


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Mar 21, 2021

Fascinating. Highly recommended. I couldn't put it down.

Mar 18, 2021

This book touches the very soul of the disease. How it affects each member of the family over the decades. A must read for anyone who want to learn and understand the disease.

STPL_JessH Mar 17, 2021

Well, I don't mind telling you that Hidden Valley Road is excellent! As you may know, I have really high standards when it comes to sources in non-fiction material. This book was written with the cooperation of the family so Kolker had extensive access to medical records, family history, and first-person interviews. He also provides a clear and accessible history of the various approaches to schizophrenia treatment and research. Most importantly, Kolker writes with great sensitivity and care about very difficult issues. There is no glorification of violence or trauma; instead, he presents as many perspectives as possible and writes very respectfully about the many lives that are touched when people live with mental illness. Kolker treats all of his subjects with dignity even, and especially, in moments when they cause harm to themselves or others. I listened to the audiobook, of course, and was very impressed! Highly recommend Hidden Valley Road.

Feb 09, 2021

Another of the NY Times 10 best of 2020. It tells the story of a family in Colorado who had 12 children, ten boys and two girls. Six of the boys develop schizophrenia. Amazingly heartbreaking story, and there are many connections with my own life. My brother also developed schizophrenia during the same time period (late 1960s), and this had a profound effect on my family. We were in New Mexico, so also in the Southwest. Truly an amazing story, and I can't say enough about the kindness of this family for opening up and telling their story in the hopes of helping others deal with this disease.

Jan 12, 2021

A fascinating look at an increasingly chaotic family of 12 children, 10 boys. There is a lot of competition and fighting between the boys that becomes increasingly violent. And one by one the boys start experiencing irrational beliefs which cause them to do irrational things like throwing all the furniture out of the house, or walking down the centre line of a highway at night. Finally the behaviour is given a label-schizophrenia. We learn how the family attempted to cope with and get treatment for the boys. They are sent to various psychiatric hospitals and later special facilities that temporarily house and treat the boys. ECT therapy, drug therapy, restraints-it becomes a revolving door where they are stabilized for a couple of months and then released back home, only to return to the hospital or clinic. The chaos in the family home never really stops. From the 50's to the present day, we learn that effective treatments for schizophrenia remain elusive.

Dec 22, 2020

Fascinating book and quite well-written. Would have benefitted from some editing and a bit more focus though -- towards the end, I found myself scanning just to get it finished. Difficult to keep track of twelve siblings, although the author tried to help by listing them each chapter (with the subject(s) of the chapter highlighted).

Dec 01, 2020

The non-fiction book of the year.

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

debwalker Nov 20, 2020

When more than intelligence and good looks runs in the family. An American family devastated by schizophrenia. An NYT pick for 2020 best 100 books of the year.

JCLAmyF Nov 13, 2020

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

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