My brother Claude arrives late for my wedding on Columbus Day, 1985, looking drawn, his blond hair limp with sweat, blue eyes peering from dark wells over a pasted smile. He has driven his Datsun for over four hours from West 75th Street on a day when the last autumnal flares of red and gold burst like Roman candles in the Adirondack foot hills. On the steps of the Friend's Lake Inn, his pale face stands out from the hundred-odd guests as Judge Austin hears our vows, and Bill Bronk, former New York State poet laureate, reads a poem. My attention drifts between my bride Carol, stunning in a halo of baby's breath, and my brother, who appears as glazed as the ice-filled tureen on the buffet.
After the ceremony, I buttonhole him in front of the salmon mousse. The problem, he tells me, is his new job at University Hospital. Co-workers at the lab are laughing at him and whispering behind his back. Going to work is becoming more difficult every day. He isn't sure how long he can continue to do it.
Claude's phone calls over the following months become increasingly urgent. He says his colleagues are not even attempting to disguise their contempt for him. Men in suits watch him from the doorway, follow him to lunch, report on his movements.
I press him to explain; why should he be subjected to such relentless ridicule and extraordinary surveillance?
My brother doesn't know.
I report to our Uncle Irving over the phone: "I can't tell if what he's saying is real, imaginary or both."
A Journal of the
American Psychiatric Association
BOOK REVIEWS Jeffrey L. Geller, M.D., M.P.H., Editor
All Points of View: Personal Accounts, 2007–2009
_ My Brother’s Madness (Willimantic, Connecticut, Curbstone Press,
2007) emerges as a triumph in behavioral science literature, contributing both to understanding the plight of patients and families living with mental illness and to advocating for access to treatment and reduction of stigma. Written by practicing psychotherapist Paul Pines, M.S.W., the memoir is a deeply personal, boldly honest, and gripping story of the effect of mental illness on the lives of two brothers. While one brother suffered with paranoid schizophrenia, diagnosed after he quit medical school, the other endured as an advocate for his brother’s health and well-being. The theme of separation within a parallel existence permeates the prose like
destinies traversing a universe, with departures and mergers often accompanied by moments of shocking revelation. The account includes italicized, diary-like entries that provide an account of a brother’s developing mental illness and standard, non-italicized text that outlines the progression from the brothers’ childhoods;
the two narratives merge at the point of the affected brother’s voluntary hospitalization. Peppered throughout the book are engaging anecdotes that range from heartfelt to irrepressibly disturbing. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and it was nearly impossible to put down, especially as it neared the end. Set largely in the 1970s and 1980s, dynamics of the psychiatrist/patient relationship and insights into the side effects of psychotropic medications are explored from a family member’s perspective. However, this bears no resemblance to an “antipsychiatry” point of view. To the contrary, the true life stories of Paul and Claude speak to their efforts to positively affect the lives of families struggling with psychiatric disorders.
— JARED T. RITTER, M.D., University of Hawaii, Honolulu
From North Country Public Radio: "How do we help a relative who is mentally ill? In My Brother's Madness, Glens Falls resident Paul Pines stuggles to find an answer. Betsy Kepes has this review." To hear the review click here.
To watch Paul Pines talking about My Brother's Madness on the cable show Reference Point by Dave Kocharhook, click here.
"In this searching, deeply emotional memoir, [Pines] explores his relationship with his troubled younger brother Claude, a paranoid schizophrenic, and the choices one makes under the pressure of family responsibility. Employing his skills as a psychotherapist, Pines unravels the mystery and evolution of Claude's illness...'I recognized that I could not run away from the relationship with my brother,' says Pines. 'I had to stop seeing it as an antagonist. What I had viewed as the greatest burden, was in fact the greatest source of wealth."
Take what pain, hope, sorrow, and madness there is in this world, pass it through the alembic of an educated sensibility and a deep, informed compassion, and you might be lucky enough to reach My Brother's Madness. Paul Pines has achieved just this: a story both profoundly personal and universal, an exploration of the trials of family, the breaking points in our psyche's powers, and yet the capacity of compassion to ride the worst of storms all the way home.
James Hollis, Ph. D.
Jungian Analyst, and author of Why Good People Do Bad Things.
Often when I read the first lines of a Paul Pines poem, a shiver goes through me as though I have been touched by something elemental and mysterious in my own soul, a secret truth I didn't quite know that could change my life. In My Brother's Madness Pines has focused his lyrical power on a story of family dysfunction that will have an aching familiarity to readers. This tender and troubling book captures the hilarities, poignant victories and deep regrets that define our lives.
Fred Waitzkin, author of Searching For Bobby Fisher
"…one of the most moving, familial, shocking and, ultimately, healing tales."
E.M. Broner, author of Weave of Women
In this beautifully written, achingly honest memoir, Paul Pines explores one of the crucial questions of all time: Am I My Brother's Keeper? As Claude sinks deeper into a paranoiac state, Paul struggles to keep him afloat at the same time that he examines the sins/omissions of parents so narcissistic that their children are reduced to mere shadows. Few books nourish the psyche and stir the heart as much as My Brother's Madness.
David Unger, author of Life in the Damn Tropics
With unflinching honesty, My Brother's Madness charts the impossible tangle of loyalty, kindness, bravery, and bitter conflict in the terrible intimacy between the ill and the well. In calm and lucid prose, Pines has much to say about the pains of responsibility and the lurching paths of hope. A remarkable book.
Joan Silber, 2004 National Book Award Finalist for Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories
MY BROTHER"S MADNESS was reviewed on North Country Public Radio
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, NY.
My BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in The Press Republican of northeastern New York state. "My Brother's Madness' insightful, hopeful Glens Falls author Paul Pines tells of his relationship with his brother, Claude, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, investigating an ever-shifting dynamic between siblings."
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in Schizophrenia Digest, Winter, 2008
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed on blogcritics.
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in the Glens Falls Post Star.
The Connecticut Post ran a review and an interview with Paul Pines, author of MY BROTHER’S MADNESS, in mid-November.
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in Glens Falls in The Chronicle.
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in the Gambit Weekly.
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in the Times-Picayune.
MY BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in Silicon Valley Metro.
MY BROTHER'S MADNESS was recently written about by Andrei Codrescu.
My BROTHER’S MADNESS was recently reviewed in Kirkus Reviews as well as Publishers Weekly.
Louis Proyect wrote of "My Brother's Madness" on November 26, 2007