Memoirs and Biographies

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
"Are You There Alone?""How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?""My Madness Saved Me"10% Happier365 Days49 Up56 UpA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Book of ReasonsA Can of MadnessA Child's Life and Other StoriesA Dangerous LiaisonA Fight to BeA First-Rate MadnessA Good Enough DaughterA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusA Lethal InheritanceA Lethal InheritanceA Life ShakenA Life Worth LivingA Little PregnantA Message from JakieA Million Little PiecesA Numerate LifeA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyA Slant of SunA Special EducationA Tribe ApartAbout FaceAddicted Like MeADHD & MeAEIOUAgainst Medical AdviceAgents in My BrainAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlgernon, Charlie and IAll Out!All Seasons PassAll That You Leave BehindAlphavilleAlways Too Much And Never EnoughAlzheimer'sAn Anthropologist on MarsAn EducationAn Unquiet MindAngela's AshesAngelheadAnna Freud: A BiographyAnnie's GhostsAnother Bullshit Night in Suck CityAnthology of a Crazy LadyApples and OrangesApproaching NeverlandAre You There, Vodka? It's Me, ChelseaAs I Live and BreatheAs Nature Made HimAt Home in the Heart of AppalachiaAt the End of WordsAvalancheBad BoyBad GirlBeautiful BodiesBeautiful BoyBeautiful WreckBecause We Are BadBecoming AnnaBecoming MyselfBen Behind His VoicesBequest and BetrayalBereftBertrand RussellBlackoutBlanketsBloodlettingBodies in Motion and at RestBoneBorn on a Blue DayBoyBoy AloneBoyleBrain on FireBreaking ApartBreaking the SilenceBrokenBulimics on BulimiaBuzzCamus and SartreCharles DarwinChasing the HighCheeverCherryCity of OneCluesClumsyComfortComplications Compulsive ActsConfessions of a Cereal EaterConfessions of a Former ChildConfessions of a Grieving ChristianConfessions of the Other MotherConfidingConquering the Beast WithinContesting ChildhoodCrackedCrazyCry Depression, Celebrate RecoveryDamned to EternityDancing at the Shame PromDante's CureDaughter of the Queen of ShebaDavid Sedaris Live at Carnegie HallDays With My FatherDefeating the VoicesDementia Caregivers Share Their StoriesDepression and NarrativeDescartesDetourDevil in the DetailsDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDirty DetailsDirty SecretDivided MindsDivine MadnessDon't Get Too ComfortableDown Came the RainDress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDrinkingDriving My FatherDrunkardDryEarly Embraces IIIEarly ExposuresEinsteinEinstein and OppenheimerElectroboyElegy for IrisElijah's CupElliott Smith and the Big NothingElsewhereEnough About YouEpilepticEvery Girl Tells a StoryEverything In Its PlaceExamined LivesExiting NirvanaFaces of Huntington'sFamily BoundFast GirlFearless ConfessionsFind MeFinding Iris ChangFirst Person Accounts of Mental Illness and RecoveryFirst Person PluralFixing My GazeFlanneryFolie a DeuxFor the Love of ItFortress of My YouthFrank Ramsey (1903-1930)Franz KafkaFraudFree RefillsFreudFreudFreudFriedrich NietzscheFrom Joy Division to New OrderFumblingFun HomeFuriously HappyGalileo Get Me Out of HereGetting OffGirl in Need of a TourniquetGirl Walking BackwardsGirl, InterruptedGirl, InterruptedGirls on the VergeGoing BlindGoing Through Hell Without Help From AboveGraysonGrowing Up JungGuttedHalf a Brain Is EnoughHardcore from the HeartHead CasesHeal & ForgiveHeal & Forgive IIHeavier than HeavenHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHello from Heaven!Hello to All ThatHer HusbandHer Last DeathHigh PriceHole in My LifeHolidays On IceHolidays on IceHope's BoyHouse of Happy EndingsHouse of Happy EndingsHow I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHow to Lose Friends & Alienate PeopleHow to Make Love Like a Porn Starhow to stop timeHumeHumeHunger Makes Me a Modern GirlHurry Down SunshineI Am Dynamite!I Am I Am I AmI Feel Bad About My NeckI Never Promised You a Rose GardenI Remain in DarknessI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'd Rather LaughIf I Die Before I WakeImagining RobertIn Search of FatimaIn the Realms of the UnrealIn the Wake of SuicideInside TherapyInternInvisible No MoreIt Happened to NancyIt Takes a Worried ManJack Cole and Plastic ManJean-Paul SartreJohn Stuart MillJourneys with the Black DogJust CheckingKafkaKantLa SierraLab GirlLast Flight OutLearning to FallLet Me Make It GoodLife As We Know ItLife InterruptedLife ReimaginedLimboLincoln's MelancholyListening in the Silence, Seeing in the DarkLittle PeopleLive For Your Listening PleasureLive Through ThisLiving in the Shadow of the Freud FamilyLiving With SchizophreniaLiving with SchizophreniaLockeLonelyLong ShotLook Me in the EyeLooking for The StrangerLoose GirlLosing Mum and PupLosing My MindLove Is a Mix TapeLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLove You, Mean ItLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLyingMad HouseMad PrideMadame ProustMadnessMagical ThinkingMalignant SadnessManicMarcel ProustMarcus AureliusMary BarnesMaverick MindMaybe You Should Talk to SomeoneMe Talk Pretty One DayMeaningMelanie KleinMemoirMemoirs of an Addicted BrainMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMen-ipulationMisconceptionsMiss American PieMockingbird YearsMomma and the Meaning of LifeMommies Who DrinkMonkey MindMore, Now, AgainMortificationMy Age of AnxietyMy Body PoliticMy Brain Tumour AdventuresMy DepressionMy Father's HeartMy First Cousin Once RemovedMy Flesh and BloodMy Horizontal LifeMy Life Among the Serial KillersMy Sister LifeMy Stroke of InsightName All the AnimalsNeural MisfireNever EnoughNietzscheNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNinety DaysNo Apparent DistressNo Hurry to Get HomeNo Impact ManNo More ShavesNo One Cares About Crazy PeopleNolaNotebooks 1951-1959NothingOdd Girl Speaks OutOedipus WreckedOf Spirits & MadnessOn Being RapedOn the Edge of DarknessOn the MoveOne Hour in ParisOne Hundred DaysOphelia SpeaksPagan TimePassing for NormalPeople Who Eat DarknessPerfect ChaosPerfect ExamplePermanent Present TensePersepolisPlanet of the BlindPlaying with FirePlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPoisoned LovePollockPOPismPortraits of Huntington'sPoster ChildProzac DiaryPsychiatrist on the RoadPsychosis in the FamilyPuppy Chow Is Better Than ProzacQuitting the Nairobi TrioRaising BlazeReasons to Stay AliveRebuiltRecovered, Not CuredRelative StrangerRescuing JeffreyRestricted AccessRevengeRewind, Replay, RepeatRichard RortyRiding the Bus With My SisterRobert Lowell, Setting the River on FireRoom For JRosemaryRough MagicRunning After AntelopeRunning with ScissorsRXScattershotSchizophreniaSchopenhauerSecond OpinionsSectionedSeeing EzraSeeing the CrabServing the ServantSet the Boy FreeSex & Single GirlsSex ObjectShakespeareShe Bets Her LifeShe Got Up Off the CouchShut the DoorSickenedSilencing the VoicesSimone de BeauvoirSinging in the FireSkin GameSlackjawSlut!SmashedSome Assembly RequiredSome Kind of GeniusSometimes Amazing Things HappenSometimes Madness Is WisdomSongs from the Black ChairSongs of the Gorilla NationSoren KierkegaardSpeak to MeSpeaking Our Minds: Revised EditionSpecial SiblingsSpentStandbyStick FigureStill LivesStretchSunset StorySurviving OpheliaSwing LowTales from Both Sides of the BrainTales of PsychotherapyTalk to HerTell Me Everything You Don't RememberTellingTelling Tales About DementiaTen Years a NomadThe Accidental BillionairesThe AddictThe Anatomy of HopeThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Art of MisdiagnosisThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe BeastThe Bell JarThe Best Seat in the HouseThe Big FixThe Body SilentThe Boy on the Green BicycleThe Boy Who Loved Too MuchThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Bright HourThe Buddha & The BorderlineThe Burn JournalsThe Camera My Mother Gave MeThe Cancer Monologue ProjectThe Center Cannot HoldThe Chelsea WhistleThe Churkendoose AnthologyThe Day the Voices StoppedThe Devil WithinThe DisappearanceThe Discomfort ZoneThe Doctor Is InThe Eden ExpressThe Family GeneThe Family SilverThe Farm Colonies: Caring for New York City's Mentally Ill In Long Island's State HospitalsThe Fasting GirlThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Geography of BlissThe Glass CastleThe Good DoctorsThe Hillside Diary and Other WritingsThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Infidel and the ProfessorThe Last AsylumThe Last Good FreudianThe Last Time I Wore a DressThe Liars' ClubThe Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet HiltonThe Lives They Left BehindThe LobotomistThe Long GoodbyeThe Looked After Kid: Memoirs from a Children's HomeThe Loony-Bin TripThe Madness of Our LivesThe Making of a PhilosopherThe Making of Friedrich NietzscheThe Man Who Couldn't EatThe Man Who Shocked the WorldThe Man Who Tasted ShapesThe Marvelous Hairy GirlsThe Maximum Security Book ClubThe Me in the MirrorThe Memory PalaceThe Mercy PapersThe Mistress's DaughterThe Mother of Black HollywoodThe Naked Bird WatcherThe Naked Lady Who Stood on Her HeadThe Neuroscientist Who Lost Her MindThe Night of the GunThe Noonday DemonThe Notebook GirlsThe NursesThe Only Girl in the CarThe Only Girl in the WorldThe Orchid ThiefThe Other HollywoodThe OutsiderThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Philosophical Breakfast ClubThe Philosophical IThe Pits and the PendulumThe Pornographer's GriefThe Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner The Professor and the MadmanThe Psychopath TestThe Quiet RoomThe Quiet RoomThe RecoveringThe Red DevilThe Rescue of Belle and SundanceThe Ride TogetherThe Rules of the TunnelThe Secret of LifeThe Shaking Woman or A History of My NervesThe Shared HeartThe Shiniest JewelThe Siren's DanceThe Statistical Life of MeThe Story of My FatherThe Strange Case of Hellish NellThe Summer of a DormouseThe SurrenderThe Talking CureThe Thought that CountsThe Three of UsThe Undoing ProjectThe Vagina MonologuesThe Velveteen FatherThe Winter of Our DisconnectThe Woman Who Walked into the SeaThe Years of Silence are PastThe Yellow HouseThe Yipping TigerThick As ThievesThinThings We Didn't Talk About When I Was a GirlThis Close to HappyThomas S. SzaszTiger, TigerTits, Ass, and Real EstateTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTo Walk on EggshellsTransforming MadnessTrue CompassTruth & BeautyTruth Comes in BlowsTuesdays with MorrieTweakTwitch and ShoutUltimate JudgementUndercurrentsUnholy GhostUnlikelyVoices of AlcoholismVoices Of Alzheimer'sVoices of CaregivingVoices of RecoveryVoluntary MadnessWaiting for DaisyWar FareWashing My Life AwayWastedWaveWe're Going to Need More WineWe're Not MonstersWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWeekends at BellevueWhat Did I Do Last Night?What Goes UpWhat I Learned in Medical SchoolWhat's Normal?When a Crocodile Eats the SunWhen Breath Becomes AirWhen Do I Get My Shoelaces Back?.....When It Gets DarkWhen the Piano StopsWhen You Are Engulfed in FlamesWhere Did It All Go Right?Where is the Mango Princess?Where the Roots Reach for WaterWhile the City SleptWhile They SleptWho Was Jacques Derrida?Why I Left, Why I StayedWhy I'm Like ThisWildWill's ChoiceWinnicottWinnieWish I Could Be ThereWith Their EyesWomen Living with Self-InjuryWomen, Body, IllnessWrestling with the AngelYou All Grow Up and Leave MeYou Must Be DreamingYour Voice in My HeadZeldaZor

Related Topics
The Years of Silence are PastReview - The Years of Silence are Past
My Father's Life with Bipolar Disorder
by Stephen P. Hinshaw
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Review by Elizabeth Donaldson, Ph.D.
Jul 6th 2004 (Volume 8, Issue 28)

The Years of Silence Are Past: My Father's Life with Bipolar Disorder opens with a disturbing episode. As his two young children sleep, Virgil Hinshaw, a philosophy professor at Ohio State University, watches television with his wife. When a female singer takes center stage, he is convinced that her lyrics are communicating important personal messages to him. Although it is late at night, he decides to drive 100 miles to Columbus, Ohio, where the broadcast is based, in order to speak with her. Fearing for the safety of her husband, imagining his arrest or death in a traffic accident, his frantic wife accompanies him. They speed toward the broadcast studio, which is fortunately closed when they arrive. Even though Virgil Hinshaw is becoming increasingly excited and agitated, his wife manages to convince him to return home. When they return hours later, the worried mother looks in on her two unattended children: they are still safe and sleeping soundly, oblivious to the nightmarish domestic drama unfolding around them.

Stephen Hinshaw is one of those sleeping children, and this book is a way of recuperating these lost moments of his past and the hidden experience of his father's illness. This particular incident occurred when Hinshaw was only three and a half, yet it is emblematic of much of his childhood and adolescence. His father repeatedly disappears and returns: his family rarely talks about where he has gone or why.

These "years of silence" end (more or less) when Hinshaw is 18 and gives his father a copy of R.D. Laing's The Divided Self. This gift begins a series of conversations with his father that lasts 25 years, until his father's complex Parkinson's illness, dementia, and death. Much of the content of this book is derived from these conversations as well as from his father's notes, interviews with other family members, and Hinshaw's own professional knowledge of mental illness. "Hearing my father recount his story to me profoundly changed and deepened my own life," Hinshaw writes, "undoubtedly influencing my choice of career as a clinical psychologist and professor" (5). Hinshaw is currently a professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, and was a former student of Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatrist who is well known for her compelling first-person account of bipolar disorder, An Unquiet Mind, and other influential texts on the subject.

One of the more interesting aspects of Stephen Hinshaw's story is his continuing effort to use his developing professional expertise to help his father. As his father describes the course of his illness over the years, Hinshaw begins to question his father's past diagnosis (schizophrenia) and his current pharmaceutical treatments (Mellaril). As a result of Hinshaw's intervention, his father is finally correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and receives lithium for the first time. Lithium, Hinshaw writes, "made him feel safe in ways that he had never experienced before" (122). This new, more accurate, diagnosis also helped his father to better understand his illness and to alleviate some of the guilt he had associated with his symptoms: "he had longed, for much of his lifetime, to have a physical illness to which he could attribute his episodes, anything tangible that he could pinpoint as a cause of his experiences, anything other than the feeling that it was all in his mind" (143). It is no small achievement on Hinshaw's part that the new diagnosis of bipolar disorder, its recognizable, familiar symptoms, and its well-established genetic basis provided his father with this peace of mind. Many readers unschooled in the history of psychiatry will also benefit from Hinshaw's explanation of American doctors' tendency to over-diagnose schizophrenia in the past and from his concise history of the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder.

Hinshaw's involvement in his father's treatment is not, however, an unqualified success story. During one of his father's depressed periods, he suggests adding an antidepressant to "supplement his lithium" (130). Hinshaw's father immediately experiences frightening side effects, including disorientation and reduced eyesight. "My attempt at involvement," Hinshaw writes, "had clearly backfired. . . . I was extremely reluctant to suggest medication changes again" (131). Hinshaw's experience here reveals the risks inherent in taking an active role in a family member's health decisions, and it also reveals the intense pressures a person in this position faces. Like many other high-achieving children of people with mental illness, Hinshaw experiences a "kind of survivor guilt," which both compels him to play the role of caretaker and plagues him with the sense that he can never do enough to solve his family's problems (199). (David Karp's The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope with Mental Illness provides an in-depth examination of survivor guilt and other issues confronting children and siblings of people with mental illness.)

Hinshaw is very forthcoming about his father's childhood experiences and how the family dynamics of his youth might have affected the course of his illness as an adult. Hinshaw's father, Virgil, was the son of a prominent leader in the temperance movement who married a former missionary after the death of Virgil's mother. Virgil's relationship with his stepmother was especially fraught and often abusive. Her method of disciplining him consisted of brutal strappings and "lengthy" enemas (29). As an adult, Virgil himself reflected upon this childhood abuse and its formative effects on his personality. Stephen Hinshaw notes also how the images and themes of his father's childhood seemed to resurface during his manic episodes. For example, before his stepmother would whip him, she would speak in Spanish to him, requesting that he bare his buttocks. As an adult, Virgil's manic speech would incorporate his knowledge of Spanish, a tell-tale sign that he was becoming increasingly agitated (54). As Hinshaw concludes: "the parenting he received profoundly shaped his self-image, influencing the ways in which he later interpreted many life events, including his hospitalizations. A large part of him believed that he was to blame for his episodes and punitive treatments, perhaps related to some moral weakness. Indeed, he seems to have been awaiting and anticipating punitive consequences throughout his life" (169).

Hinshaw's candor in revealing these intimate details of his father's childhood is not, however, sustained at the same level throughout this narrative. It is ironic that The Years of Silence Are Past remains relatively silent about the family dynamics of Stephen Hinshaw's own childhood. (The title of the book, by the way, comes from a rather cryptic phrase that appears without explanation in one of his father's notebooks.) There are, of course, several good reasons for this silence. Hinshaw states, "throughout my childhood I was not aware that my father had any kind of mental illness" (63). Hinshaw's parents were advised by doctors to keep the illness hidden from the children, a fairly common recommendation at the time. This prescribed silence might be charitably viewed as a way of protecting children from the social stigma surrounding mental illness. However, while this silence circumvents a public recognition of the problem, it also reinforces the notion that mental illness is too terrible and shameful to discuss. Yet perhaps the most important factor influencing the sense of silence in this book is Hinshaw's mother. Hinshaw writes:

My mother's perspective is crucial to my father's story, but I have tried to respect her understandable desire for privacy. Living with a partner or spouse with serious mental disorder can be confounding, exhausting, and even terrifying, especially when secrecy, shame, and lack of professional assistance are the norm, as was the case throughout much of my parents' lives. My mother was the foundation of the family for decades, as the following words make clear. Although there is another set of stories and issues about the rest of my family that I could recount, this work is primarily my father's story. (8)

This untold set of stories and issues still lingers in the background, as one of Hinshaw's passing comments about his sister makes clear: "Sally has told me that she does not have the same kinds of warm childhood memories of my father as I do" (64).

Despite these remaining silences, or perhaps even because of them, Hinshaw has written a book that is a welcome addition to the growing bibliography of books by people diagnosed with mental illness and their family members. Hinshaw writes in the introduction, "The more that such issues are talked about openly, the better, because the cloak of secrecy that still surrounds these problems may come to be replaced by openness and compassion" (6). Even though the "years of silence" about mental illness may not be completely in the past, Hinshaw's book is a successful attempt to give voice to some of these all-too-often muted experiences.


2004 Elizabeth Donaldson


Elizabeth Donaldson, English/Interdisciplinary Studies, New York Institute of Technology


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716