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Henry’s demons by Patrick and Henry Cockburn book review

Henry’s demons by Patrick and Henry Cockburn book review published in 2011 – I read this book in 2011

This is a combined story of a father and son’s experience of schizophrenia – the son has it, and writes about his experiences of it, and his father narrates most of the book, from his side of the experience, as a concerned Father.  He feels he has a unique book in this sense, as it is two sided, but this has been done before.  Very well written, yet easy to read for the masses, it unfolds the boys life story within the family unit – a family with an interesting and unusual approach, since the Mother and Father have lived mostly on their own in different countries, for many years. 

Henry’s (the son) writing is simple and to the point, showing the simplicity of how accepting one person can be of the unusual and hallucinatory delusions and beliefs that schizophrenia can encompass within a persons mind – whilst we would see a young man climbing up a high wall as dangerous and strange, Henry did it just to ‘get a better view of Brighton’.  Henry does not believe himself to be ill, and does not take his medications properly.

Patrick, during the middle of the book, comes away from the key story to educate us on his extensive research of schizophrenia and bipolar, its causes, hereditary genes, how an event can trigger it, environmental factors, and the proof that cannabis can indeed worsen a persons chances who is already susceptible to schizophrenia to promoting the illness in oneself. 
Whilst this was a very educational chapter, which I was amazed and in awe of, it scared the life out of me as my mother has schizophrenia and I have smoked quite a lot of cannabis in my time.  Also, reading the descriptions of symptoms almost convinces me that I am getting schizophrenia.  Michael has been telling me to keep away from reading about mental health problems, and to consume myself in happier things, but I cannot help it as it is so interesting, but after reading the above, I had two terribly depressing days at the weekend, so maybe I should leave the mental health stuff behind once I have finished this book.  I had to read it though, as the reviews were so good, it was unique, I wanted to research it to pitch my own memoir, and it got in the top 10 for The Times hardback list.

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