[Marxism] Henry's Demons: A Review

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Aug 1 09:02:35 MDT 2011


Henry's Demons: A Review
by Louis Proyect

Book Review

Cockburn, Patrick, and Cockburn, Henry: Henry's Demons: Living 
with Schizophrenia: a Father and Son's Story, Scribner, 2011, ISBN 
978-1-4391-5470-0, 238 pages.

(Swans - August 1, 2011)   Three weeks after Jared Loughner shot 
six people to death in Tucson, Arizona, and wounded another 14 
including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Henry's Demons hit 
the bookstores. So dismayed was I at the time by the level of 
ignorance on the left about mental illness, including, I am 
afraid, an article by Sam Smith that appeared on Patrick's brother 
Alexander's CounterPunch, I only wished that every single 
subscriber to the "Tea-Party-made-him-do-it" theory could read 
Henry's Demon. (Smith opined that Loughner drew "bizarre 
conclusions" from the books he read, a function of not developing 
"critical thinking" in school or college. This completely ignores 
the question of brain chemistry, as if sending Loughner to Philips 
Exeter and Yale would have made any difference.)

As someone who has studied this issue in some depth because of 
both a close friend's and a relative's struggle with 
schizophrenia, I can say that Henry's Demons is a book that will 
go a long way in illuminating one of society's most intractable 
public health problems. By making the personal political, Patrick 
Cockburn has made an enormous contribution to our knowledge about 
a disease that is subject to the most ignorant prejudices, 
unfortunately even from our most educated classes.

In Kabul on February 8, 2002, Patrick Cockburn received a phone 
call from his wife Jan informing him that a fisherman had pulled 
his twenty-one-year-old son Henry fully clothed from a freezing 
cold river in Brighton. Suffering from hypothermia and just one 
step ahead of death, the youth was taken to a local hospital and 
then shortly transferred to a mental hospital. This was the 
beginning of an ordeal that lasted for the better part of a 
decade. It is almost impossible to imagine how Cockburn continued 
to function as one of the world's top foreign correspondents while 
coping with his son's never-ending dalliance with death. Although 
many people associate psychosis with violence against others, the 
greatest risk for the mentally ill is that they will do harm to 
themselves.

full: http://www.swans.com/library/art17/lproy72.html




More information about the Marxism mailing list