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Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Unabridged Audio Book

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Sean Pratt

13 Hours 8 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

April 2020

Audio Book Summary


The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins--aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony--and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?
     What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that 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, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.
     With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.

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  • Donna M.

    I stayed with the book. The story was such a sad and truthful story. The statistics, data and studies were difficult to listen to as I felt I was in a psychology 101 class.

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  • Anonymous

    I can’t even finish this book. I’ve given it 4 hours and can’t take any more.

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  • Stephanie C.

    Definitely feels like fiction but it’s sadly a tragic story of a family plagued by mental illness and shame and secrecy surrounding that .

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  • Susan P.

    Amazing book !!!! Obsessed from the first paragraph and finished it in a couple days. Since I have a family member with mental illness this book was so informative!! Such a fascinating story and really shows how mental illness effects the whole family. Great read , five stars

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