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Publisher's Summary

A psychiatrist and award-winning documentarian sheds light on the mental-healthcare crisis in the United States.

When Dr. Kenneth Rosenberg trained as a psychiatrist in the late 1980s, the state mental hospitals, which had reached peak occupancy in the 1950s, were being closed at an alarming rate, with many patients having nowhere to go. There has never been a more important time for this conversation, as one in five adults - 40 million Americans - experiences mental illness each year. Today, the largest mental institution in the United States is the Los Angeles County Jail, and the last refuge for many of the 20,000 mentally ill people living on the streets of Los Angeles is LA County Hospital. There, Dr. Rosenberg begins his chronicle of what it means to be mentally ill in America today, integrating his own moving story of how the system failed his sister, Merle, who had schizophrenia. As he says, "I have come to see that my family's tragedy, my family's shame, is America's great secret."

Dr. Rosenberg gives listeners an inside look at the historical, political, and economic forces that have resulted in the greatest social crisis of the 21st century. The culmination of a seven-year inquiry, Bedlam is not only a rallying cry for change, but also a guidebook for how we move forward with care and compassion, with resources that have never before been compiled, including legal advice, practical solutions for parents and loved ones, help finding community support, and information on therapeutic options.

©2019 Kenneth Paul Rosenberg (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Bedlam captures the nuance and tragedy of America’s current mental illness crisis better than any book I know. The seriously mentally ill individuals who become homeless and incarcerated are not merely numbers but come alive in Dr. Rosenberg’s telling." (E. Fuller Torrey, MD, author of Surviving Schizophrenia and American Psychosis)

"The definitive book on serious mental illness and how we treat it - and more often fail to treat it - today. A source of comfort, as well as of up-to-date information, for people with mental illness and those who care about them, and a call to action for the nation." (Peter D. Kramer, emeritus professor of psychiatry and human behavior, Brown University, and author of Listening to Prozac and Ordinarily Well)

"Brutal and beautiful. Finally, a book that explains serious mental illness to the public and deciphers the madness of America’s mental health care delivery system. One of the most important books of the year." (Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO, National Council for Behavioral Health)

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  • Louise Thorn
  • 21-03-2020

Mental Illness

I enjoyed this sad story. If you hadn't gone through something like this with a family member you can't imagine how it changes your life. For the most part I understood most of it some parts I had to go back and listen to the more medical parts. A very human story.

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