As a psychiatrist reading this book, I feel ashamed. I'm ashamed I can't help people because the laws prevent it, and ashamed I have to tell family members that I can do nothing for their loved one who is an adult and has the right to refuse treatment that could treat his or her illness. That's when I can talk to family members; most of the time I can't because of HIPAA. If we took just a few days of funds from the war in Iraq and put them into our nation's mental health system, think of the lives that could be saved. Instead we put the mentally ill in jails or leave them on the streets, and chuckle to our friends when we see somebody acting in an odd or bizarre fashion. But by the grace of g-d it could be you.
Pete Earley's writing is earnest and intelligent, and remains unbiased when writing about the mental health system. I appreciate that he clearly indicates when the book is about his son versus reporting, because the parts regarding his son are emotional and biased by his experiences, as they should be. I learned about the history and restrctions of the mental health system in the United States and plan to learn more about it. Kudos to Mr. Earley, both for exploring his feelings as a parent, and as a reporter for finding out why the system failed his son and so many others.
I very much enjoyed this book, although it is difficult and scary at times. Not Aliens scary - real world scary. It goes back and forth between his own story of his son's mental illness and an examination of the Miami Dade County Jail and mental health system. Very interesting and thoroughly researched.
Good, although disheartening, story of journalist Pete Earley's personal journey to help his mentally ill son.