Myths, Madness and the Family

By David W Jones.
ISBN 0333776186

This is a positive addition to the limited
literature on families and mental illness. The central part reports
on 40 interviews with family members. These are analysed in
relation to key themes: grief, psychiatry, stigma and the family.
The first part reviews a range of mental health theories with the
emphasis on how these address family issues.

It is tempting to go straight to the material
on interviewees’ views. However, it is worth persevering with the
first part so the analysis can be placed within a theoretical
context. It is difficult to strike the right balance but it might
have been helpful to review theories in more depth. There is also a
lack of acknowledgement of some of the early work by Wing and
others on families.

There is good material on race and mental
health, a focus on sibling relationships, and a refreshing
consideration of sexuality, but, as the author recognises, a
limited look at gender. It would have been interesting to look at
experiences of compulsory powers and the role of the nearest

Nevertheless there is some good material here.
The muddled approach to carers and relatives in the Mental Health
Act white paper suggests a number of people would benefit from
reading this book.

Robert Brown is a Mental Health Act
commissioner and head of approved social work training schemes in
southern England.

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