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From the bestselling author of the classic book on ADD, Driven to Distraction, a memoir of the strange upbringing that shaped Dr. Edward M. Hallowell's celebrated career.
When Edward M. Hallowell was eleven, a voice out of nowhere told him he should become a psychiatrist. A mental health professional of the time would have called this psychosis. But young Edward (Ned) took it in stride, despite not quite knowing what "psychiatrist" meant. With a psychotic father, alcoholic mother, abusive stepfather, and two so-called learning disabilities of his own, Ned was accustomed to unpredictable behavior from those around him, and to a mind he felt he couldn't always control.
The voice turned out to be right. Now, decades later, Hallowell is a leading expert on attention disorders and the author of twenty books, including Driven to Distraction, the work that introduced ADD to the world. In Because I Come from a Crazy Family, he tells the often strange story of a childhood marked by what he calls the "WASP triad" of alcoholism, mental illness, and politeness, and explores the wild wish, surging beneath his incredible ambition, that he could have saved his own family of drunk, crazy, and well-intentioned eccentrics, and himself.
Because I Come from a Crazy Family is an affecting, at times harrowing, ultimately moving memoir about crazy families and where they can lead, about being called to the mental health profession, and about the unending joys and challenges that come with helping people celebrate who they are.
A portion of the author's proceeds of this book will go to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
Psychiatrist Hallowell (Driven to Distraction) handily illustrates in this entertaining memoir the adage that people go into psychiatry because they want to understand themselves and their families. Hallowell grew up in the Boston area in a family afflicted by the "triad of alcoholism, politesse, and mental illness." His father, who was later diagnosed as bipolar, wasn't the same after he returned from WWII with PTSD, his mother was an alcoholic, and his brother suffered from bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Hallowell fondly recalls studying at Exeter, where he embraced creative writing and developed a love of literature; his heady days at Harvard; and his years in medical school at Tulane. After he decided to specialize in child psychiatry, he learned about ADD and eventually established himself as an expert in the disorder. Hallowell asserts that he works on himself morally and spiritually and believes that he has achieved a "fairly good outcome as far as character is concerned." While the narrative moves too quickly at times, Hallowell is earnest in his assessments about his search for his life's calling.