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A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the…

A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the Science Behind Three…

by Victoria Costello

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A Lethal Inheritance has three focal points that complement and illuminate each other. The first is the story of the author’s son who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his teens. The second is the mother’s search of her family tree for clues as to where the illness came from, how mental illness may have affected her ancestors, and ultimately, how it affects her present family. Lastly, the author discusses past, present, and possible future descriptions of the course and treatment of this disorder.
A science journalist and mental health advocate in San Francisco, Costello offers both an affecting chronicle of her family’s mental illness and a useful guide to detection and prevention.
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I've learned three important lessons on my journey through mental illness. First, that I've done things in the wrong order. If we, as parents, get treatment for our own psychological or addiction issues, our children will suffer far less mental illness. If they're already struggling with a mental health challenge, we'll be of much greater help to them. That leads to my second discovery: intervening sooner for a mental health problem is better than picking up the pieces later -- for everyone. Lastly, I've learned that although we're each born with inherited liabilities and assets, throughout our lives our minds become largely what we make of them. Put simply, nurture can trump nature.

Once we get these three things, the game has changed, and we're living in the prevention model of mental wellness where healthy minds rule.
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In this riveting story--part memoir, detective story, and scientific investigation--in the tradition of the story of Henrietta Lacks, Costello recounts how the mental unraveling of her seventeen-year-old son Alex compelled her to look back into family history for clues to his condition. Eventually she tied Alex's descent into hallucinations and months of shoeless wandering on the streets of Los Angeles to his great grandfather's suicide on a New York City railroad track in 1913. -- Amazon.… (more)

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