Writer, broadcaster, filmmaker, and a founder of the National Schizophrenia Australia Organization, Anne Deveson writes her own deeply personal story of her teenage son's experience of schizophrenia and a mother's realization of her child's insanity. The book won Australia's 1991 Human Rights Nonfiction Award. Deveson will appear at the 1991 Annual Convention of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Washington, D.C., September 9-13.
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Australian documentary filmmaker Deveson offers a brave and frank account of her son Jonathan's seven-year battle with schizophrenia exacerbated by drug abuse, which ended with his death from a drug overdose at age 24 in 1986. As a newborn Jonathan suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and as a child and adolescent he had nightmares and seemed anxious, but otherwise his development was uneventful until a sudden personality shift at the age of 17, which led to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Without sentimentality, Deveson describes how Jonathan giggled at his father's funeral, how he wrecked Deveson's house and tried to kill her, believing her to be the Devil, and how he sat in jail for months on an armed robbery charge of which he turned out to be innocent (Deveson refused to post bail because the court would not commit Jonathan to a hospital for treatment). Deveson details her fruitless search for a cure, which even took her to India, and her impotence in the face of Jonathan's refusal to be helped and laws that put his civil rights before his health. Not wishing to intrude on others' privacy, she obliquely refers to the strain her other children have endured, and the sundering of her relationship with a live-in lover.
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