Schizophrenia: Causes, Cures, Common Myths + The True Story of One Family’s Experience with 6 kids Diagnosed with Schizophrenia (with Author Robert Kolker)

Dr. Caroline Leaf
3 min readOct 7, 2020

Little is known about schizophrenia, even today. There is so much misinformation about this kind of mental distress, it is no wonder that many people find it confusing and even frightening. In this podcast (episode #210), I speak with NY Times best-selling author and journalist Bob Kolker about his new book, Hidden Valley Road, and the extraordinary story of the Galvin family and their six sons who were diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1960s/1970s. We also discss why so little is known about this type of mental ill-health, past and current treatment options, how to change the narrative around schizophrenia and mental health, and more!

As Bob notes in Hidden Valley Road, the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease. The Galvin family story has provided researchers with a lot of valuable information regarding the genes associated with schizophrenia and the nature versus nurture debate, even though there is still so much to learn. They have helped science move forward tremendously, and there have been major breakthroughs from just studying this family’s turbulent history, such as understanding the importance of early intervention.

Their story shows us that, when it comes to schizophrenia, we need to go beyond the nature versus nurture debate and understand the incredible complexity of the symptoms associated with this type of mental distress. We need to avoid neuroreductionism, where we focus too much on one cause or point of origin, and consider the wide range of factors associated with the onset of schizophrenia. The human mind is incredibly unique and complex; we need to acknowledge this complexity and pay attention to people’s life narratives.

Indeed, one of the most common misconceptions we have concerning schizophrenia is that it is an “it”. <- I don’t understand what that means Schizophrenia is not like other mental illnesses. There have been no advances or innovations in recent decades, and the drugs that are prescribed are symptom suppressors, not cures. These drugs don’t turn back the clock for patients; they just make…

Dr. Caroline Leaf

Mental health expert. I have spent the last 30+ years researching ways to help people manage mental health issues in school, work, and life: