This post is a collection of quotes from the book - Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker. Hidden Valley Road is a medical mystery story with twists and reveals to rival any thriller.
One of the consequences of surviving schizophrenia for fifty years is that sooner or later, the cure becomes as damaging as the disease.
For a family, schizophrenia is, primarily, a felt experience, as if the foundation of the family is permanently tilted in the direction of the sick family member. Even if just one child has schizophrenia, everything about the internal logic of that family changes.
Diagnosing schizophrenia was - and in many ways remains - more of an art than a science. None of the symptoms, taken by themselves, were specifically characteristic of the illness, and so doctors could only diagnose it by excluding other possibilities.
Schizophrenia’s onset seemed a little like a bowling ball that veers ever so slightly to the left or right the second it leaves the bowler’s hand and strikes the wood on the lane. For a few feet, the ball seems to be doing well, heading straight. Only closer to the pins does it become clear that the ball has been gradually going off course - so far off-center that it hits just one pin on the side, or falls into the gutter.
For all of us, adolescence is a crucial period of housecleaning for brains that had been hard at work for more than a decade of extreme expansion and renovation. This demanding phase for the developing brain explains, for instance, why teenagers need more sleep, or why, after adolescence, it’s harder for most people to learn a language or recover from brain injuries.
To be a member of the Galvin family is to never stop tripping on land mines of family history, buried in odd places, stashed away out of shame.
When you don't find a sense of love and belonging where you are, you go searching for it somewhere else.
The kids who don’t get the attention are the ones who often need it most.
There is no way of knowing how life might have been different for the Galvin brothers if the culture of mental illness had been less rigid, less inclined to cut people off from mainstream society, more proactive about intervening when warning signs first appeared. But there is, perhaps, reason to hope that for people like the Galvins born fifty years from now, things could be different, even transformed.
It’s the way of scientific progress - if you aren’t among the rare few who are immortalized, you are merely part of the great procession of research, a player in a larger drama.
If you live long enough, everything comes back to haunt you.
Embrace the cards you are dealt or it will eat you alive. If you go to the heart of your own matter, you will find only by loving and helping do you have peace from your own trauma.
We all have an amazing ability to shape our own reality, regardless of the facts. We can live our entire lives in a bubble and be quite comfortable. And there can be other realities that we refuse to acknowledge, but are every bit as real as our own.
We are, in some way, a product of the people who surround us - the people we’re forced to grow up with, and the people we choose to be with later. Our relationships can destroy us, but they can change us, too, and restore us, and without us ever seeing it happen, they define us.
Our culture looks at diseases as problems to solve. We imagine every ailment to be like polio: hopelessly incurable, until a miracle drug comes along that can wipe it off the face of the earth. That model, of course, only works some of the time.