Perhaps After Her Brain Broke grabs our attention and holds on because the story Susan Inman tells is true. Susan and Peter Inman knew their 15-year-old daughter, Molly, was painfully shy and suffered from depression for which she was treated, and they expected that she would go through a rebellious stage as do most teenagers. What they weren’t prepared for is her decline into psychosis and the effects it would have on their family.
In their efforts to help their daughter, the Inmans spent more than $10,000 on a high-profile therapist who was academically qualified but, on the whole, a total “flake.” As it turns out, this therapist was essentially working against the family and contributing to Molly’s disorder. As Molly worsened, her expensive care was covered by Canadian socialized medicine.
Molly’s first diagnosis was Bipolar Disorder. Treatments are used and discarded, some symptoms alleviated, some worsen. Molly is then diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. Families who have agonized over what is wrong with their children — mentally or physically — can relate to the Inmans’ heartrending experiences as they strive to get an accurate diagnosis, educate themselves, and help their daughter.
After Her Brain Broke serves as a manual for consumers of mental health services and their families. Repeatedly the Inmans are disappointed by an inadequate mental health system (they live in Vancouver). Readers in metropolitan areas may disbelieve the lack of properly trained professionals, resources, support, and services that plagued the Inmans. Living in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, I know that these conditions exist all over. When I asked about mental health services in my county, I was told that there are none; social services workers lament the lack of facilities and practitioners available to their clients. It would be nice to think that there are no services because there is no one to serve. It would also be nice to think I’ll win the lottery tomorrow even though I didn’t buy a ticket.
The Inmans, at times, must have felt like they were being held hostage by a dysfunctional system. They were repeatedly denied information or received partial information, and doctors wouldn’t listen to their observations about and requests for Molly. After Her Brain Broke should be required reading for the mental health field or Psychology 101 students. It’s not that mental health professionals don’t know the impact mental illness has on a family; they allow themselves to be too busy to bother. Some parents seem demanding, but we learn from Susan Inman’s experience that if the family doesn’t stay on top of the situation, it will never get better.
Happily, Inman’s daughter has improved. Nine years of experimenting with pharmaceuticals that didn’t work or did more harm, hospitalizations, bad advice, and improper care finally culminated in a stable life for Molly. On the way, Susan became an activist for families affected by schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
After Her Brain Broke is critical of “traditional,” blame-the-parents psychotherapy which is surprisingly still practiced, and sensitive to how that approach can hurt the mentally ill, as well as their families. Inman is appreciative of the help her family received from doctors and mental health care workers whom she names, and is tactful about the unnamed professionals who were less than helpful, if not negligent. She skillfully documents nine difficult years in the life of a family of survivors, who may have started off with little knowledge of mental illness and its treatment but quickly learned by necessity.
Bottom Line: Would I buy After Her Brain Broke? Yes. My degree is in psychology and I have maintained an active interest in the field.Powered by Sidelines