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Beyond Madness

The Pain and Possibilities of Serious Mental Illness

Reveals proven solutions for bettering the lives of people with serious mental illness, their families, and their communities.

Leading scientist and gifted storyteller Rachel A. Pruchno, PhD, was shocked to encounter misinformation, ignorance, and intolerance when she sought to help her daughter, newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Turning to the scientific literature, Dr. Pruchno eventually found solutions, but she realized many others would need help to understand the highly technical writing and conflicting findings.

In Beyond Madness—part memoir, part history, and part empathetic guide—Dr. Pruchno draws on her decades as a mental health professional, her own family's experiences with mental illness, and extensive interviews with people with serious mental illness to discuss how individuals live with these illnesses, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression.

The book

• presents real-world vignettes that vividly describe what it is like to experience some of the most troubling symptoms of a severe mental illness
• offers practical advice for how individuals, family members, and communities can help people with a serious mental illness
• explains how people with mental illness can find competent health care providers, identify treatment regimens, overcome obstacles to treatment, cope with stigma, and make decisions
• provides insight into programs, such as Crisis Intervention Training, that can help people undergoing mental health crisis avoid jail and get the treatment they need
• takes aim at the popular concept of "rock bottom" and reveals why this is such a harmful and simplistic approach
• advocates for evidence-based care
• documents examples of communities that have embraced successful strategies for promoting recovery
• shows that people with serious mental illnesses can live productive lives

Meticulously researched and engagingly written, Beyond Madness is a call to action and a promise of hope for everyone who cares about and interacts with the millions of people who have serious mental illness. Family members, friends, teachers, police, primary care doctors, and clergy—people who recognize that something is wrong but don't know how to help—will find the book's practical advice invaluable.

About the Author

Rachel A. Pruchno, PhD is an Endowed Professor of Medicine at Rowan University and the director of research at the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging. She is the author of Surrounded by Madness: A Memoir of Mental Illness and Family Secrets and the coeditor of Challenges of an Aging Society: Ethical Dilemmas, Political Issues.


"At every turn, [Pruchno] puts human faces on maladies that experts sometimes reduce to abstractions.... A heartfelt and extremely informative overview of serious mental illness."


"Written from knowledge and experience by a developmental psychologist whose mother and daughter were both diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Beyond Madness is an excellent book for families affected by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression. Pruchno offers practical advice and strategies for dealing with the inevitable problems associated with these diseases, including finding a doctor, recovery, coping, and drafting advance directives. Strongly recommended."

- E. Fuller Torrey, MD, Stanley Medical Research Institute, author of Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual

"This engaging narrative, full of well-structured anecdotes, orients readers toward the personal, immediate effects that symptoms of severe mental illness can have on both sufferers and their close relatives. A comprehensive introductory book, Beyond Madness may prove invaluable to some."

- Michael S. Rogers, MD

"In this readable, engaging, and thoughtful book, Rachel Pruchno weaves together deeply personal experiences with scientific, historical, and practical information about living with and responding to serious mental illness. Genuinely novel."

- Paul H. Lysaker, Indiana University School of Medicine, coauthor of Recovery, Meaning-Making, and Severe Mental Illness: A Comprehensive Guide to Metacognitive Reflection and Insight Therapy

"A comprehensive, holistic approach to mental illness recovery, this book will make a substantial impact on the field. I enthusiastically recommend Beyond Madness."

- Andrew F. Angelino, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

"Combining storytelling and research, Beyond Madness will engage both mental health practitioners and family members."

- Ashley Bone, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

"A significant story with real-life recommendations about how we can improve our fractured mental health care system. Dr. Pruchno gives a voice to those seldom heard and seen while offering parents and policy makers helpful solutions. This is an important book that should reach a wide audience."

- Pete Earley, author of Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness

"As a daughter, mother, and research psychologist, Dr. Rachel Pruchno brings a unique perspective to the challenges and heartbreak that individuals and families face in navigating labyrinthine systems, from schools to hospitals to insurance companies to the criminal justice system."

- Liza Long, author of The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness

"This book commands the nation's attention. Dr. Pruchno has reignited the urgent public discussion about serious mental illness on two fronts. She has combined her expertise as a distinguished researcher of brain disorders with a fearless, unsparing search into the afflictions within her family and, ultimately, into the guarded core of her own being. Her voice, aflame with eloquence and moral insistence, must not be ignored."

- Ron Powers, author of No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America

"Beyond Madness couples lived experience and stories with professional expertise and research to offer the promise of real hope for people in these pages."

- Creigh Deeds, Virginia State Senator

"As a mental health professional, academic, educator, researcher, and a person with her own lived experience of suicide loss and struggles of loved ones, Dr. Pruchno provides deep and authentic solutions and education about the important connections between serious mental illness and suicide prevention. And, as a preeminent researcher focused on how mental illness affects family members, her understanding of the issues of this devastating mental illness and suicide web empowers her to offer insightful solutions."

- Christine Moutier, MD, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

"I've been using Rachel Pruchno's Surrounded by Madness in my introductory psychology course for several years now and have found it to be an excellent addition. The book is provocative and insightful, exposing students to the heartbreaking reality of mental illness and its devastating impact on families and communities. Not only has Dr. Pruchno lived the nightmare that serious mental illness visits upon families, but she is widely recognized as a leading researcher; thus, she clearly speaks with authority on the topic of mental illness. I eagerly await the publication of Beyond Madness and can practically guarantee that I will add it to the curriculum at Western Oregon University as soon as it becomes available."

- Tracey Powell, Western Oregon University
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421441429 : beyond-madness-pruchno
384 Pages
$34.95 USD
9781421441443 : beyond-madness-pruchno
Electronic book text
384 Pages
$19.95 USD
9781421444598 : beyond-madness-pruchno
Paperback / softback
384 Pages
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Other Titles by Rachel A. Pruchno

Challenges of an Aging Society

edited by Rachel A. Pruchno and Michael A. Smyer
Sep 2007 - Johns Hopkins University Press
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