|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 282-283
A book of light: When a loved one has a different mind
Shikha Tyagi1, Monica Munjial Singh2
1 Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, India
2 Center for Social Work, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India
|Date of Web Publication||14-Sep-2017|
Assistant Professor of Psychiatric Social Work, Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32, Chandigarh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Tyagi S, Singh MM. A book of light: When a loved one has a different mind. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2017;33:282-3
Publication: Speaking Tiger Publishing Private Limited 2016
Edited By: Jerry Pinto
Price: Rs. 399
| Significance of the Book|| |
The book reflects that in chronic mental illness the main brunt of the disease is borne by the family members apart from the patient himself/herself. Majority of the patients with severe mental illness lack insight and construe their own world that is not distressing for them. In fact, attempts to bring patients to the real world is one of the most challenging tasks and most distressing for the family members. This book is a collection of stories where family members have described their journey of caring for a person suffering from mental illness. The agonizing accounts given by the caregivers of their firsthand experiences in handling their patients, the difficulties they encounter, and the uncomfortable decisions they are forced to take have been lucidly described. The authors of these stories come from different walks of life and strata and are husbands, daughters, sons, or sisters, etc., Though none of the stories could (or were expected to) cover the entire rollercoaster ride of difficult times that the caregivers have gone through while caring for their patient(s), all tend to portray heartbreaking accounts of what it means to be a caregiver for a person suffering from mental illness. Each experience forces the reader to ponder if it is possible to completely follow the advice received from a mental health professional while facing real-life challenges and even while carrying out their day-to-day chores.
| Justification of the Title|| |
The title of the book “A book of light” in itself is intriguing and is difficult to understand initially as the stories are depicting the dark realities rather than giving or showing any light. However, the title does not end there and does sort of clarify about the subject matter of the book when one reads what is written thereafter in small letters “when a loved one has a different mind.”
The editor, as well as authors, of the book deserves appreciation as they have shown a great strength in opening up themselves to the world and revealing their real-life experiences about a topic which usually does not draw attention in the sociopolitical arena. The stigma about mental illness continues to remain significant, and seeking treatment is stigmatizing in many parts of the world. In such a scenario, it is not easy to come up with such explicit details of helplessness, hopelessness, and sadness that the authors of the stories have encountered (and detailed) while living with a family member suffering from mental illness.
Hence, the book carries a lot of significance for a mental health professional to understand in real sense the terms such as “burn out.” It also demonstrates that merely prescribing an antidepressant for the caregiver is not the only solution for the distress that he/she undergo while dealing “hands on” with a person who is acting on his/her delusions and hallucinations or retreats into his/her own world.
| Critique|| |
Majority of the stories are heartbreaking, depicting a gloomy picture of what is experienced by the caregivers and do not end on a happy note. They all leave the reader sad, tearful, and gloomy. The fourth story, which is about relationship between mothers and daughters and embarks upon an important social issue, comes as a little respite by ending on a positive note.
While reading, though the book can be overall emotionally draining, yet it will prove helpful in refining the professional clinical skills of a mental health professional. In addition, it will be very helpful for many caregivers as it will empower and bond them of “not being alone in this world,” and by being together, they can probably handle such issues better.
The major flaw of the book is that it does not give any tips that can be utilized by the family members for handling their patients who are suffering from mental illness. By the time, the reader finishes the book, he/she may end up with a sense of “hopelessness.”
Finally, majority of the stories are old in terms of time frame, and the difference in recovery with the advent of atypical antipsychotics is nowhere mentioned even toward the end; this tends to make the book seem talking of a different era (though it is not!).