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Ben Behind His Voices

One Family's Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope

Randye Kaye

When readers first meet Ben, he is a sweet, intelligent, seemingly well-adjusted youngster. Fast forward to his teenage years, though, and Ben's life has spun out of control. Ben is swept along by an illness over which he has no control—one that results in runaway episodes, periods of homelessness, seven psychotic breaks, seven hospitalizations, and finally a diagnosis and treatment plan that begins to work. Schizophrenia strikes an estimated one in a hundred people worldwide by some estimates, and yet understanding of the illness is lacking. Through Ben's experiences, and those of his mother and sister, who supported Ben through every stage of his illness and treatment, readers gain a better understanding of schizophrenia, as well as mental illness in general, and the way it affects individuals and families.

Here, Kaye encourages families to stay together and find strength while accepting the reality of a loved one's illness; she illustrates, through her experiences as Ben's mother, the delicate balance between letting go and staying involved. She honors the courage of anyone who suffers with mental illness and is trying to improve his life and participate in his own recovery.
Ben Behind His Voices also reminds professionals in the psychiatric field that every patient who comes through their doors has a life, one that he has lost through no fault of his own. It shows what goes right when professionals treat the family as part of the recovery process and help them find support, education, and acceptance. And it reminds readers that those who suffer from mental illness, and their families, deserve respect, concern, and dignity.

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 320Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-1089-9 • Hardback • August 2011 • $26.95 • (£17.95)
978-1-4422-1091-2 • eBook • October 2011 • $14.99 • (£9.95)
Randye Kaye is an actress, broadcaster, voice talent, and speaker. She served more than twenty years as a major radio personality in Connecticut, and continues to work in theater, TV, film, commercials, industrials, and audiobooks. She is also the Connecticut trainer of Family-to-Family Educators for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, and a diversity trainer for the Anti-Defamation League. Randye is a member of SAG, AFTRA, AEA, NAMI, The National Speakers Association, and Mensa. www.randyekaye.com
Introduction: 2010
Snapshot: The Turning Point
Part One: Warning Signs
1. Beginnings

2. Ben Drops Out
3. There Must Be a Reasonable Explanation
4. The Wailing Wall
5. The Black Eye
Part Two: Chaos, Trial and Error
6. Frightening Thoughts
7. Almost Arrested
8. The Last Resort
9. Psychic Vampires
10. Diagnosis Roulette
Part Three: Dealing with Catastrophic Events
11. Almost Hospitalized

12. Finally, Sick Enough
13. Frozen: Hospitalization Number Three
14. Hospitalizations Four and Five
Part Four: Recovery and Acceptance
15. He's Still in There
16. Baby Steps to Normal: Realistic Expectations
17. Ordinary Miracles
18. The Drum Circle
19. Relapse and the Road Back
20. You Can't Reason With Mental Illness
21. Love: the Positive "Second Hit"
22. No Secrets: Fighting Stigma
23. Never Give Up Hope
Ben Behind his Voices reminds us that schizophrenia is an illness, but not necessarily an identity. It movingly depicts the difficulty and the importance of recognizing, accepting, and managing the symptoms of this disorder.
John H. Krystal M.D., Yale University School of Medicine

The book is too good to be true. I love the way Randye talks about her son; she is very direct about her experiences with mental illness in her family. This book is just what our family members are looking for when they learn their loved one has been diagnosed with any severe mental illness. The biggest question out there is whether there is any hope for them; I am pretty sure family members are going to find an answer as well as the understanding that will make a huge difference to all of them. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about this book. I love it!
Paloma B. Dee, NAMI-CT Family & Professional Education Program Director, CT

Randye Kaye has a message for all of us. With courage and fortitude she embraces her son and all his symptoms. She doesn't judge. She doesn't give up. She loves. She hopes. And in this book she explains how other parents can follow her lead and learn from her years of extraordinary experience.
Roberta Temes

Should be required reading for all psychology professionals and students, as well as anyone who loves or cares for someone suffering with schizophrenia. Incredibly well written, profoundly honest, and, perhaps, most importantly, Randye Kaye offers help and hope to thousands of families needing to hear her story! I sat holding my breath as I turned each page. The author is not only a survivor and an incredibly loving mother, she is—by any standards—a gifted writer.
Linda Appleman Shapiro, psychotherapist, oral historian, author of Four Rooms Upstairs

Immediately, I was immersed. The time flew by unnoticed, and I didn't want the chapters to end. Randye is a wonderful writer. I can feel and understand what's happening in such a way that it's almost as though it's happening to me, instead of being told to me. This book is going to be a bible for so many who've had schizophrenia touch their lives as well as for those who wish to understand this debilitating disease.
Gloria Gallo, actress

'No one showed up with casseroles at our door.' These are the words of Randye Kaye in her poignant new memoir, Ben behind His Voices. Delving into her son's paranoid schizophrenia, Kaye takes the reader on a journey of frustration, heartache, anger, and love. It's every parent's nightmare, but this book is full of hope, knowledge, and empathy. It will make you see mental illness for what it really is: a horribly misunderstood devastation of the mind and soul—a tragedy not just for its victims and their families, but for society. Tragic not merely because mental illness exists—but because we, as a community, prefer to ignore its existence. Ben, and millions like him, need you to read this book.
Karen Winters Schwartz, author of Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder

Persons with mental illnesses, like the rest of us, are surrounded by countless providers and service agents. It is an unfortunate reality that family, the closest and most knowledgeable group in the lives of individuals, are rarely consulted during times of acute crisis or treatment planning. Randye Kaye poignantly illustrates the value of the love of family as they, along with her son, Ben, struggle to make sense of the mental illness that impacts all of them. Randye and her family show unwavering commitment and love to Ben. As much as he has, at times, "been" hidden behind the muddlesome voices of schizophrenia, this caring, devoted family has "been" behind the voices every step of the way along with him. His struggle is theirs to share as can only be understood by family.
Michael W. Mackniak, Esq., MNMP, CBIS, Founder Melissa's Project

Poignant, stark, and the energy of the scenes are set up really well. This work has screenplay written all over it. The dialogue is wonderful and the pace of the story moves briskly.
Nancy DeRosa, author of A Penny's Worth and There's No Place Like Home

What I find most compelling about Ben Behind His Voices is the author's honesty as a mother about her true feelings. She connects with her readers because she allows herself to be human and vulnerable and share both her struggles and triumphs.
Amy J. Barry, author of A Child's Grief Journey and the award-winning parenting column, A Parent's Eye View

It's the reason parents fear the teenage years-the all-too-common story of a happy, well-adjusted child who slowly spirals into rebelliousness, disaffection, and apathy. Such teens may drop out of school or stop studying, indulge in drugs and alcohol, and possibly commit petty crime. When Kaye's son Ben gradually became "troubled," she tried all of the usual remedies: therapy, tough love, and special camps and schools, but nothing worked. Instead, he became increasingly emotionally unavailable and uninterested in taking care of himself and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Like many sufferers, Ben doesn't acknowledge his illness and hates the side effects of the medication he needs to function. In the latter part of the book, Kaye describes what she goes through to ensure that her son takes his medication and has a safe place to live. VERDICT An illuminating portrait of a parent coping with the guilt and heartbreak that come from feeling like one can't "fix" one's child. Recommended for anyone who is involved with teens or those with mental disorders, and a darn good read for memoir fans.
Library Journal

A mother wrestles with the advent of her son's schizophrenia and its long, painful unfolding....The author....is eminently helpful, particularly in the matter of self-medication, which so many of the mentally ill prefer to taking the medications that have been prescribed for them....Heartfelt and surely of help to those new to living with mentally ill loved ones of their own.

In this must-read for any family struggling with mental illness, Kaye offers a gripping account of her son's battle with schizophrenia. Until Ben was 15, Kaye believed that patience, structure, therapy, and love were the solutions to Ben's academic and social challenges, mood swings, and drug and alcohol abuse. Having struggled to find help for Ben as his illness went unnamed and incorrectly diagnosed, Kaye provides helpful and informative guideposts throughout the book. Now a teacher for, and advocate of, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Kaye covers everything from helping siblings understand a new family dynamic, to managing involuntary commitment proceedings, to getting patients 'into the system.' Kaye readily acknowledges that no one learns this information voluntarily and reminds readers that it's impossible to reason with mental illness. Along the way, she shares her fundamental belief in love, humor, and hope. This well-written, well-researched, and brutally honest book will provide information, inspiration, and encouragement for many parents.

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Ms. Kaye displays amazing strength by standing up to the mental health system, protecting her son, and, ultimately, letting him go so he could be as independent as possible. Her story is surprisingly easy to read, almost like a novel. You’re rooting for her, for Ben, and for his sister all the way. You will admire their courage as a family as they face the challenges of schizophrenia, when “normal” isn’t quite what they expected it would be.
National Family Caregivers Association

The story of Randye Kaye’s son’s descent into psychosis and the long road to recovery reads like a diary, complete with dialogue, commentary, and an account of her own emotions as each incident and turn of events unfolds. You would think the attention to detail would weigh down the reader, but it has the opposite effect. It carries the reader along. If you’re someone who has watched a member of your family fall ill, it will also bring you to tears – not tears of sadness but, if there are such things, tears of delight at how she got things so right. There’s a fair chance that in reading Ben Behind His Voices, which is told by Kaye in the first person, you will be reading your own story as well.
North Shore Schizophrenia Society

[L]ay readers will very likely be held in thrall by Kaye's attention grabbing personal account of her family's journey from the chaos of Ben's schizophrenia to hope. And at a professional level, the book's contents may especially be of enthralling interest professionally to mental health professionals, and also to legal professionals.
Metapsychology Online Reviews