Tag Archives: mental health awareness

Sisters in the Storm by Linda Hoff Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Linda Hoff helps parents, in particular, mothers, who must take on the painful task of caring for their adult children as they develop a terrible mental illness and navigates the rough waters that journey will take them on in her book, “Sisters in the Storm”.

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The Synopsis

What do you do when your adult child receives a frightening and severe mental illness diagnosis that is progressive and incurable-and barely manageable? How do you support him or her without losing your own self to the disease? Sisters in the Storm is your coping tool. Written with love and extreme vulnerability, author Linda Hoff shares her journey of being a mom of a mentally ill adult child (MIAC) and guides you to navigate this rough road as only a seasoned veteran can.

The problems are numerous and never-ending: problems of finances, of living arrangements, of medication management, of medical authority, of your own mental equilibrium-and the issues of your breaking heart as you lose your formerly capable, enthusiastic child to the downward spiral of an incurable mental disease.

But you are not alone. You’re part of a sisterhood of mothers who are trudging the road together, supporting each other along the way, and emerging as changed but strong. Strong in their commitment to their child and strong in their commitment to themselves. Strong in their resolve to help their child and strong in their resolve to live their own full life. You are sisters-sisters in the storm. 

The Review

This was such an emotional and heart-wrenching yet hopeful read. The author does such an incredible job of delving into the heart of the journey that people take when caring for an adult child suffering from mental health awareness. The honesty and heart for which the author writes pour through on every page, and the way each chapter is crafted to take the reader through each stage of this process, no matter how painful, really showcases the author’s personal approach to the subject and the way in which readers are able to relate to this topic.

The thing that struck me the most was the author’s unique perspective. Rather than getting a professional psychologist’s POV or getting a more clinical approach to the topic, readers are treated to an honest, heart-to-heart conversation between a mother and the readers out there who need to hear this amazing author’s words. While not a parent, I am all too familiar with the effect mental health can have on both the people we love the most and those around them, and reading the author’s words and their experience with this topic was something that was not only identifiable but emotionally connective as well.

The Verdict

A memorable, tragic, yet emotionally connected and engaging read, author Linda Hoff’s “Sisters in the Storm” is a must-read book on mental health awareness and the journey parents must take to seek help for and care for their adult children suffering from said illness. The focus not only on caring for her child but finding a way of caring for herself and finding a way back to finding her new normal in life was a breath of fresh air in regards to this topic, and the emotional and heartfelt journey chronicled here is something readers will not want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy on May 1st, 2022! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Not only has Linda Hoff survived the storm, she has created a life of balance, joy, and purpose for herself and her mentally ill adult child (MIAC.) In her debut book, Sisters in the Storm, Linda shares her struggles, heartache, and lessons learned over the last ten years as she navigated through her son’s unexpected schizophrenia diagnosis. Linda shares a home on the outskirts of Saint Louis, Missouri with a friend and fellow mom of a MIAC, two dogs, and two cats. She visits her son regularly and loves to spend time in nature, traveling, reading, and enjoying time with her four grandchildren.

The Clash Inside Me by John Moondragon & Kelly Alblinger Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young man living with dissociative identity disorder finds himself the witness to a horrific crime, and must determine if one of his alters was responsible in author John Moondragon’s “The Clash Inside Me”. 

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The Synopsis

THE CLASH INSIDE ME opens with a young man perched on a ledge and contemplating an unusual predicament: did he or did he not commit murder? And if he did, which of his alter-personalities will ultimately be held responsible?

The young man, who remains nameless throughout the tale, recounts the story of his life and the diagnosis of his mental illness –dissociative identity disorder – with refreshing candor. Speaking directly to the reader, he describes his personal history in a manner that is both relatable and engaging. Despite the obvious disadvantages of coping with multiple personalities, he is not a victim of his circumstances. He is a survivor with expectations of a bright future, including a tender romance. There are moments of fear and anguish, but his is not a story of despair; rather it is a tale of ongoing courage to define oneself while coping with a serious mental illness.

The Review

The author really found the perfect harmonious balance between entertaining narrative and emotionally-driven character growth under the umbrella of understanding mental health more clearly. The narrative was definitely character-driven, focusing on the protagonist and his alters in vivid and gritty detail. The fast-paced narrative and the imagery that was conjured with the author’s words made the reading experience fun yet thought-provoking.

The theme and message of the narrative surrounding mental health, in general, was a fantastic choice. The discussions and education that the narrative brings about mental health, despite the fictional aspect of the narrative, really do a phenomenal job of furthering our understanding of mental health and DiD in particular. The examination of the protagonists alters and the jarring experience of losing the control you would typically have over your own body was mesmerizing to behold.

The Verdict

Memorable, engaging, and thoughtful in its approach, author John Moondragon and Kelly Alblinger’s “The Clash Inside Me” is a must-read fiction thriller with a mental health focus. The intrigue and suspense of the main plot when combined with the emotional journey of the main character and his struggle with his mental health makes for such an amazing read, so be sure to grab your copy of this amazing story today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

John Mondragon is a self-published author of his first novel “The Clash Inside Me” and a caring father and husband.

He is passionate about helping people understand the importance of mental health matters, and encourages others to speak up and speak out.

Author Website: https://www.subscribepage.com/theclashinsideme

Book Purchase Links: https://books2read.com/theclashinsideme/

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/Mondragon.Author

https://www.instagram.com/mondragon.author/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21943524.John_Mondragon

The Joy of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy by Barry Shore Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and the Ambassador of Joy, Barry Shore, reaches out to readers to combat the threat of stress by focusing on practices to bring joy into our lives in the book, “The Joy of Living”.

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The Synopsis

The JOY of LIVING (™) is Your passport to being Healthier and Wealthier. Barry Shore, the Ambassador of JOY, reveals the 11 Strategies that You can use to slay stress and be happy….no matter the circumstance. Imagine standing up in the morning fully healthy and in the hospital that evening completely paralyzed; and not from a car accident or a spinal injury, but a rare disease. You’ll join the journey as Barry moves from paralysis to now swimming 2 miles per day, 6 days a week. All with a SMILE. You’ll use these Strategies and transform Your world.

The Review

This is the perfect read for those who are looking for ways to really participate and educate yourselves for Mental Health Awareness Month. I’ve personally covered many topics within the field of mental health from myself and other writers here on my website, as mental health awareness is a very important cause to my heart. Whether people realize it or not, stress itself can be a critical factor in one’s own mental health. 

The author’s work here is quite amazing for such a short read, yet the words spoken within are quite powerful. As someone who lives every day with several physical limitations and health problems, it was an instant connection to the author’s own story. The first chapter hits readers instantly with the knowledge of the author’s own struggles in life, and gives the lessons shown to the readers here in this book a sense of authenticity and experience that will allow readers to feel comfortable taking in this knowledge for themselves.

The author expertly divides this book up into parts. First he takes the time to identify STRESS and the root causes often associated with stress, followed by the notion of how finding joy can physically and mentally combat stress and its affects on the body. Finally the rest of the book takes the time to establish steps and practices readers can take for themselves to implement joy into their lives, making for quite an informative and practical guide to happiness. 

The Verdict

Well-written, passionate and mentally refreshing, author Barry Shore’s “The Joy of Living” is a must-read non-fiction read on mental health. The author’s vulnerability in telling his own personal story and using this to not only find his own happiness to combat the stress, but showing readers how to do this for themselves, was a refreshing change from the self-help books typically seen on shelves. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Known as the “Ambassador of JOY,” Barry Shore is a mental health activist, philanthropist, multi-patent holding entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster, and former quadriplegic. After a rare disease paralyzed Shore from the neck down, he created the JOY of LIVING Institute™ (a platform that teaches people to live in joy, no matter the situation), Keep Smiling (a movement that has reached multiple celebrities and distributed millions of “Keep Smiling” cards worldwide), and Changebowl (a philanthropic platform featured in Oprah Magazine.) Barry’s podcast, The JOY of LIVING, is heard globally by hundreds of thousands and has over two million downloads. 

Barry’s latest book, “The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

STRESS: AN EXCERPT FROM THE UPCOMING BOOK “THE JOY OF LIVING: HOW TO SLAY STRESS AND BE HAPPY” BY AUTHOR BARRY SHORE

I am so proud to share with you all this amazing excerpt and article from author Barry Shore, from his upcoming book THE JOY OF LIVING: HOW TO SLAY STRESS AND BE HAPPY. I will be reviewing this book tomorrow, but in anticipating for the May 11th release date I wanted to share this excerpt. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and for anyone who knows me, you know that mental health awareness is a cause near and dear to my heart. Please take the time to read this book and share this post, and look for my review of Barry’s book tomorrow. Now, enjoy this exclusive excerpt. 


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An Excerpt From

“The JOY of LIVING: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy”

By Barry Shore the “Ambassador of Joy”

______________________________________________________________________

The Problem: STRESS…Kills!

Not directly. More like death by a thousand sighs.

It’s insidious. Invidious, invasive, and, if continuous and not stopped, will ruin Your physical, mental, and spiritual being.

Stress is a common occurrence. While You can’t remove every stressor from Your life, it’s possible to manage and reduce stress and maintain your health. This is important because chronic stress can cause mental fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness, obesity, skin ailments, heart issues, anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal problems.

Yes, that list of symptoms observed across the population tells You that You’re not alone in this battle.

But even when You know the physical and mental effects of stress, You may be unaware of the different stages of stress, known as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). When You understand the different stages of stress and how the body responds in these stages, it’s easier to identify signs of chronic stress in Yourself.

I’m writing this in the year 2020. The world is beset with panic, disease, and economic and societal ruin.

Right now, the most searched word in the world after Covid (and its related causes/cures) is STRESS. It’s affecting everyone.

STRESS is an acronym that I use to describe how to deal with the effects of untoward circumstances. Essentially there are three factors that cause STRESS.

These are and have always been:

• Money

• Work

• Home

Yes, these are universal and constant. Even in the best of times.

There are however two divergent ways to deal with STRESS, both revealed in my insights.

STRESS can stand for: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Sabotage.

There is little need to go into depth regarding each of the three stressors above. It is self-evident that money issues can and do cause tremendous pressures. The same for work. And, certainly, for home/family. Often in times of recession and disaster, these factors are intertwined and exacerbate one another. They truly cause a stomach-turning reality.

STRESS can also mean: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Success.

Same exact situation/s dealt with in a different way/s. Your response to the stomach-turning reality makes all the difference. Struggling is the continual and real test of life. And it’s something we all face every single day.

How You deal with the reality of these issues determines how Your physical and mental wellbeing will be affected. Certainly, You can’t be cavalier. Yet You can utilize practices, tips, and tools to enable You to direct Your mind and guide Your body to avoid falling prey to a pity party which can lead to the use/abuse of medications, alcohol, or to other aberrant behavior.

Mind is the master. Once You grasp this fundamental fact and leverage this powerful tool, You can and will achieve success under all circumstances and vicissitudes.

How do You maintain inner strength during stressful periods?

Consider a submarine. As the ship goes down, the pressure (strength) inside needs to increase to counterbalance the pressure outside. Likewise, when we are in stressful situations, we must make sure our internal strength is adequate to offset the external forces pushing against us.

Anger also produces stress. Have You ever known people whose lives seemed to have a thin veneer of civility and calm, yet once the surface was scratched, anger bubbled up like a volcano? Stress and anger go hand-in-glove.

We also know that there are two types of stress: vertical and horizontal. The vertical is healthy because it pulls You up. Think of a flower on a stem. Without turgor pressure, the stem droops. Without the fluids pushing through the cells, the flower dies. We can grow limp as well. A useful example of the sort of pressure that pulls us up is the sense of awe or reverence of God.

Horizontal stresses pull us apart and create damage. Designing our lives to meet others’ demands and standards is horizontal. All the current talk about self-image leads to horizontal stress. I do not mean that we should have no concept of self-worth. But we want to have a clear definition of self-worth that comes from knowing we were brought into this world for a purpose. That knowledge is a settled knowledge and doesn’t change just because of what others think or say.

In our competitive society there is another prevailing stress—the fear of losing. The specter of losing by our choosing stresses us. When we make one decision, we give up other options. These are the “Y” points. Marriage and career are two of the biggest examples. One of the pitfalls of our current day is buyer’s remorse. “If I choose the left fork and it grows dull, I opt out and choose another road.” This is a mistake. The stress of always looking around for the better option steals the joy of commitment.

The true test of life is never in what happens to us.

It is always in how we choose to respond to situations.

As we’ll learn later in the 11 Strategies, the six most important words You can learn and internalize are:

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

Repeat this. Often. Think about it. Internalize and utilize.

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

“The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” by Barry Shore is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

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About the Book

“The Joy of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is your passport to being healthier, wealthier, and happier in a time of unease and misgiving. 

Part journal, part memoir, part activity book, it’s a timely guide to slay stress, beat burnout, and cope with life, post-pandemic. Author Barry Shore reveals 11 strategies that you can use to slay stress and be happy….no matter the circumstance. Imagine standing up in the morning fully healthy and in the hospital, that evening completely paralyzed; and not from a car accident or a spinal injury, but from a rare disease. You’ll join the journey as Barry moves from paralysis to now swimming 2 miles per day, 6 days a week. All with a SMILE.

  • RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2021
  • GENRE: Healthy Living, Emotions and Mental Health, Journal/Workbook, Memoir, Motivational Self-Help, Nonfiction, Self-Improvement.
  • PUBLISHER: Joy of Living Institute Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-930376-15-1 
  • PURCHASING INFO: Available for Pre-order on Amazon or on Apple Books or by visiting https://www.barryshore.com/book 

About the Author

Known as the “Ambassador of JOY,” Barry Shore is a mental health activist, philanthropist, multi-patent holding entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster, and former quadriplegic. After a rare disease paralyzed Shore from the neck down, he created the JOY of LIVING Institute™ (a platform that teaches people to live in joy, no matter the situation), Keep Smiling (a movement that has reached multiple celebrities and distributed millions of “Keep Smiling” cards worldwide), and Changebowl (a philanthropic platform featured in Oprah Magazine.) Barry’s podcast, The JOY of LIVING, is heard globally by hundreds of thousands and has over two million downloads. 

Barry’s latest book, “The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

Hinterland by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Trigger Warning: Themes revolving around mental illness are present in this novel. If you or someone you know suffers from illnesses such as schizophrenia and are easily triggered by these storylines, reader discretion is advised.

A husband and father trying to take care of his wife and child finds himself struggling as a childhood friend returns home, bringing complex feelings back to the surface and a dark secret threatens to tear apart his family in author LM. Brown’s “Hinterland”. 

The Synopsis

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

The Review

This was a well written, slow-burn style mix of family drama and thriller. The author explores two important themes in this narrative: the lengths a parent would go to in order to protect their child, and the hardships of trying to care for someone suffering from a severe mental illness. 

The protagonist Nicholas is a complex man, with both many faults and a desire to protect his daughter Kate from heartbreaking truths. From the return of his childhood friend Ina to the struggle he has with his wife Kathleen and her struggle with a serious mental illness, the author beautifully focuses on character development to highlight the story within this book. 

The Verdict

An emotionally charged, dramatic, and evenly paced read, author L.M. Brown’s “Hinterland” is a must-read thriller drama. The heartbreaking circumstances that push Nicholas and his family to the edge are truly engaging and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and definitely felt like the delivery of the narrative was very reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it on October 13th, 2020!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/l.m_brown/

Emotional Fossils: Mental Illness and Human Evolution by John V. Wylie Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A detailed and humanizing book takes readers on an emotional journey through the stigma of mental illness in author John V. Wylie’s book “Emotional Fossils: Mental Illness and Human Evolution.” 

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The Synopsis

This essay is the culmination of forty-five years as a psychiatrist investigating the relationship between severe mental illnesses and human evolution. I have concluded that the most important changes leading to our evolutionary success occurred inside the mind. Upright posture, large molar teeth, opposable thumbs, large brains, and the onset of culture were additive responses to the evolution of what MOTIVATED early humans.

The inner experiences of major depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are shown to derive from the breakdown of normal emotions we all know intimately. These everyday feelings are ancient, have played a central role in our evolution, and thus can be viewed as “emotional fossils.” Stigmatized for centuries, mental illnesses are revealed to be the price we pay as a species for the extraordinary mental capacities that make us human.

Short and explicitly written to be accessible, this essay interprets the scientific findings of human evolution in accordance with an evolving mind.

The Review

At it’s core, this nonfiction, medical read takes readers into the heart of the painful stigma those who suffer from mental illness have to endure from those who don’t understand the illness itself. The book delves into how human evolution and the emotions we experience on a daily basis are closely involved with the development of these ailments, and the stigma has only increased the progression of these illnesses. 

This book is greatly detailed and creates a steady read for those who are interested in medicine, medical books and mental health awareness overall. The best way to review a book like this however is by relaying how it impacts readers, including myself. 

As a mental health advocate, this book truly spoke to me in a personal way. While detail oriented, the book creates a personal understanding in those involved in or even currently engaged in the mental health field. With two very close relatives having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, the stigma of what that illness does to a person is everywhere, especially in pop culture, and this book does a great job of breaking down those stigmas and getting to the heart of the illness overall. 

The Verdict

This is a brilliant read that fans of nonfiction medical reads will thoroughly enjoy. The author speaks with an authority and expertise that will make readers feel more knowledgeable of the subject after reading this book, and in an age where mental health awareness is more important than ever before, this is the perfect read going into the new decade. Be sure to grab your copy of “Emotional Fossils” by John v. Wylie today!

 Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

John Wylie holds a BA in history from Yale, an MD from Columbia, and completed a psychiatric residency at Georgetown University. He began his career at a maximum-security prison in Maryland, followed by 35 years in the private practice of psychiatry in Washington, DC, where he served as chair of the department of psychiatry at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Dr. Wylie was a founding member of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, has had a longstanding interest in the relationship of mental illness and human evolution, and has given multiple lectures on the topic. He wrote Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients, and Their Families,published in 2010 (second edition, 2012), and Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind in 2018, which is a memoir of the development of his ideas. Dr. Wylie lives in Olney, Maryland with his wife Ann and their German shepherd Tulip.

https://amzn.to/3668ko0

Interview with Author Kenneth Richard Fox

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

There came a time almost twenty years ago that I felt I had actually been quite fortunate to have had so many experiences already during my lifetime that I wanted to share.  I had invented and patented some laser technology which could, if introduced deep inside the human body, remove even potentially lethal obstructions, as in clots in small blood vessels and otherwise.  I had practiced medicine and surgery around the world.  And more.

I focused first on a few of those and wrote short articles about some of them.  Mirage in the Desert was about my period of living and working in the Persian Gulf.  Here Today, Gone Tomorrow had to do with some of the tragic losses in my life when I lost loved ones under the most painful of circumstances.  Something From Nothing was about the strange process of inventing with all of its uncertainty– somehow, one day,  coming to believe you actually had stumbled upon something new and potentially important or valuable.  Monster in the Midst was about the tragedy of living with a loving spouse who is turned into a human monster by the emergence of violent, psychotic bipolar disorder. But then I felt there was more I could say and at the time, to me, the most efficient way to do that was using free verse.  That lead to my anthology of some 88 poems I wrote over the course of about one year.  In 2018, finally, I decided to write At the Point of a Knife, a narrative that encompassed a lot of the above in just one book.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

At the Point of a Knife is also the story of a lot of things that can go very wrong, with the backdrop of  a lot of others which are very right.  I was certain that there are so many people who struggle with living with severe untreated mental illness, even if that manifests itself in a partner or someone else very close.  It is tragic in its destruction, and with the stigmas about such things which run so strongly in society, there must be better ways.  First, though, something cried out for this tragic type of circumstance to be called out and exposed. Somehow society needs to not only recognize the enormous destruction that these severe mental illnesses cause to it, not only to the affected individuals directly, but it needs to open channels for proactively identifying these ill people who desperately need help, and force them to get it! The costs of not doing so are far too great.  Mental hospitals hardly exist any longer in the U.S., but if the stigmas are removed, their benefits are great and the costs of not having them are extreme.  Having these facilities is half the battle. Forcing their use in extreme situations is the rest-  proactively, not after people die and lives and livelihoods are ruined.

After my experience with losing fabulous children who were so horribly abused by their other, alienating parent, ruining our family and my relationship with them and theirs with me, I came to realize that there were many such circumstances, albeit with differing degrees of  adverse impact.  In the 90s when my children were so severely alienated and abused, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was still being broadly challenged in society, in essence a cover up of an enormous problem which destroys families.  Since, through the hard work of many dedicated mental health, medical, social work, justice and other professionals, that has changed to a signficant extent, although the battle still rages in society about PAS.  But it turns out, quite conclusively so unfortunately, that if courts don’t both enforce custody and visitation by and with the non- alienating, normal parent and restrict and severely control the visitations with the alienating one, the problem will not only not be solved, it will become permanent.  When the abused, alienated children grew up, they retain that ‘blind spot’ in their brains inculcated by the abuse, and they can not re- form relationships with the non- alienating parent.  Again, as with severe mental illness, ignoring the problem is horribly destructive and futile, and proactivity, by society, in all such cases is imperative.  This is one situation for judicial pro- activity.  

My problems, as described in At the Point of a Knife, also included how horribly one rogue judge was able to piggyback on his own sordid past  to wield power from the bench which made a mockery of justice. While he turned a blind eye to  the above mentioned severe problems squarely before him, the system let him carry on his own psychopathic brand of jurisprudence unabated, while he slashed and burned everything in his sight.  Not satisfied with allowing a potential murderer to run loose, a beautiful family to be destroyed, he persisted in destroying a thriving start- up international business involving life- saving technology, a professional career and sought for as long as he could to put in jail his chosen victim.  For the judicial system to hide behind veils of opacity, while according no recourse in reality even in situations of gross abuses of power by a few who clearly have no business having been given the trust placed in them, is simply a wrong crying out for change. Juries of peers sit on crucial cases, both civil and criminal, in American jurisprudence.  There is no reason that peers, ordinary citizens, can not sit in courtrooms so that when the obvious, gross abuse of power and justice does occur, they are there to see it and have the authority to make those few perpetrators of these quasi- judicial horrors disappear into the oblivion they deserve.  Anyone sitting in that Virginia judge’s courtroom would have likely recognized in short order that he was an outlier who did not belong in that position.  There were lawyers sitting in the gallery at times, unrelated to these cases, who said as much openly– but they had no power to act.   No one deserves that kind of immunity from exhibiting even a minimum level of responsibility in society which places trust in their hands, or the impugnity to openly scorn that society while abjuring that trust.

Large companies are also given huge sway in our society.  Perhaps even like big government itself, they become too big to control.  Unrestrained, they continue to get bigger and more powerful yet.  But since there are, alas, too many flaws in societies, manifested by the underlying flaws in the individuals of which they are comprised.  Somehow the society must rein in not only the sickest individuals before they can harm themselves and others, they must control those who abuse their powerful positions for their own gain and to the detriment of so many others.  My small, but very successful start- up hi- tech company was robbed blind by a few in power in some large companies that knew they could just steal our patented technology and probably never have to pay for it.  By virtue of bonuses, stock options and the like, sometimes well deserved, othertimes not at all, those individuals could steal from us, not pay royalties and get away with millions.  Their companies benefitted financially as well, but inventing is thwarted and society several disadvantaged when the incentive to invent is stifled, particularly when that is done totally illegally.  We had fought for the international patents and we even managed to enforce them in courts.  But the losers in all of that simply went on to lie and cheat about their royalty- bearing revenues, having little to fear.  If, in the end, after almost endless litigation all over the world, we would win, time and again, they might have to pay, but no more really than what they owed in the first place.  That is not justice, it favors the greedy and the rich and discourages the honest and the inventive among us in this type of situation.  Patent cheating is theft and that is a crime, and societies should extend that type of control to patent infringement and to wanton breaches of patent royalty  license agreements. Those crooked executives who are in it only for their own aggrandizement and care not a wit about who might benefit from new and better technology, including in the life sciences, or even if they ever do, should risk being put in jail for patent crimes.  That might put some control in place on what, now, is their unfettered rampage over smaller inventors whose technology represents, collectively, the way forward for societies and stimulates the growth that they all need to stay healthy.  Furthermore, the companies that steal this technology, if found guilty of same in the courts, should pay treble, not just once for their crimes and defalcations, and that might get the proper attention of their shareholder- owners who are all too happy now to put their crooked managers in place and look the other way from their foibles.

My story, told in At the Point of a Knife, from my experiences, points to a lot of grotesque wrongs that exist quite openly today and which reap huge destruction on our society because they are not realized and even less addressed in meaningful ways.  It is death, injury, mental abuse and the collective pain and ravages of corruption, negligence and distrust.  That is what inspired my writing this book.

3) What drew you into the field of developing new technologies and inventions as mentioned in your novel?

My entrance into the field of innovation, via the basic medical science investigations and inventions ultimately happened by accident.  My late inventive partner asked me a seemingly simple question, having to do with laser energy, something I used in my clinical practice therapeutically, but the answers were anything but obvious.  We discovered that no one else seemed to know those answers either.  We experimented, with the laser energy, applying it in the laboratory to human and animal tissues, and we observed what happened.  Eventually, quite literally, we stumbled upon a way to control that laser energy which produced the desired results we sought, but avoided the damaging ones which had thwarted prior efforts.  We defined what we had done and that lead to patents being written, then prosecuted before patent offices around the world. As is often the case with innovation, it was happenstance.  In this case, things went well.

4) What is the biggest obstacle facing the legal field in regards to mental health and those afflicted from it (not to mention the families of those individuals)?

How to make societies more attentive to and focussed on real problems is very difficult.  The problems are complex and there are always seemingly forces of evil which miltate to take advantage of those problems rather than to ameliorate them.  It is in the end about the people.  If they want and can take responsibility, then that is hopeful.  But when and if they won’t, they are doomed.  Abdicating that responsibility is often disastrous, whether to those powerful in business or to those in even any branch of government too. After all, they are all made up of people, sometimes even the same people.  Blindly trusting all justice makes that justice blind.  When something is fundamentally wrong, someone has to be both motivated to, but also empowered to be able to do something about it.  Letting a judge like the rogue described in At the Point of a Knife to act unempeded is disastrous.  Letting a violent mentally ill individual, untreated, reak havoc on those nearest to her, and indirectly even those not so close, is calamitous.  Similarly letting those in high authority in private industry trade on their enormous advantages unchecked is extremely dangerous.  I believe we all need a much stronger fundamental level of responsibility and personal integrity, or else we are doomed.  Society can not  determine for any of us specifically what those things look like better than we  individually can by  deep personal searching within.  Education is crucial, since the more each of us  knows, the better chance we have.  

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

The lessons I perceive from my own extensive experiences which are chronicled to some extent in At the Point of a Knife, and in my other writings, are varied and cut a broad swath through society.  I have been very fortunate to have seen so much of that over many years.  It is, now, difficult to point to any social media which directly speaks to a lot of that.  Probably the answer may be that a lot of social media speaks to a little of what I write about and very little current social media speaks to a lot of it.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

People sometimes seem to say that writing a memoir or a narrative non- fictional story is cathartic.  Actually, I am not sure that is so because it is so painful to do, and the pain persists.  It is also a sacrifice, as such, but one I felt compelled to undertake in these ways, manifested by the written words.  Also, as before so often in my life, whether in Medicine or in inventing life- saving laser technologies, in trying to be a loving parent and spouse and son, I like to believe I cared enough to make the effort, to face the problem and to react to it, this time in words rather than in deeds.  Given how popular writing seems to be, that must be, in general, a good thing.

There are, of course, many genres of books, of stories, as there is variety in life itself.  I seem to be inspired by what I have seen and felt.  One can only encourage that sort of thing in others.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

For me it is important to continue to confront challenges, which is, to live.  I continue to try to find what seems best, and to act on that as best I can.   I continue to learn since that, too, should never end.  I always want to find what motivates me most, and to act on that as much as I can.   I continue to be inspired by those around me most, who I love.   I continue to seek justice, even all too often in all too mediocre courts.  But I continue to seek harmony, compromise and peace.  I continue to try to support technology, inventiveness and innovation since, alas, it seems to me we continue to need those things.  I continue to tell tales, and to write, as I am doing now. 

About the Author

Kenneth R. Fox is the inventor of a great deal of laser medical technology and the patentee of many international patents. Dr. Fox has practiced Medicine in six countries on four continents and has lectured in many others. He has taught both Medicine and Business at several universities in a number of different countries. He is the author of many peer- reviewed medical and scientific articles, quite a few published poems and several short articles, mostly related to various aspects of health, but all based on his personal experiences over many years, as is At the Point of a Knife. 

Your can find more at http://www.kennethrfox.com

Interview with Author Lynn Nanos

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing? ​

I never considered myself a writer until literally just a couple of days immediately preceding the start of creating Breakdown. Rather I considered myself a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. As I struggled to shake off the sense that something was missing within me professionally, the idea of writing a book about my profession came to me suddenly. I completed an online writing course, researched the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing, purchased writing software, learned how to cite research, and began researching marketing techniques for books. I felt intrinsically rewarded upon completion of every major milestone. Sure there were obstacles to overcome, such as when the interior formatting company sent me a 20-page sample ridden with mistakes they refused to fix. And when my requests for testimonials to publish at the beginning of Breakdown were ignored. And when the first illustrator I hired plagiarized her work before I quickly fired and didn’t pay her. Writing a book takes intense commitment to the finished product. The recognition I’ve received from people has been priceless. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had done mental health advocacy work on a national scale for years before beginning to work on Breakdown and was very inspired by advocates’ tragic stories. Their stories motivated me to become a better social worker. I increasingly realized that there is no opportunity to influence legislators to change the system in the clinical setting. I didn’t feel that my employment was enough to make a difference in the world. Certain clinical cases were at the forefront of my memory because they were especially dramatic and shocking. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the world has to know these stories. Very few people are aware of the population I help and what they struggle with. Breakdown aims to close the gap between clinical and legislative settings. 

Breakdown Nanos

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The most common reason that approximately half of people with schizophrenia are unable to initiate treatment independently or adhere to treatment is anosognosia. This means they lack awareness of being ill. Anosognosia is a key factor contributing to the need for involuntary treatment. When schizophrenia goes untreated, the consequences can be deadly. I’ve detailed high profile cases based on media reports and my interviews with family members. These cases have involved people getting killed due to untreated mental illness. This statement is bound to make many people uncomfortable for fear of stigmatizing mental illness by suggesting that people with mental illness are violent. The majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Yet a small subset of the population with untreated serious mental illness, especially involving psychosis, is more violent than the general population. Truth does not enhance stigma. I make a strong case in favor of involuntary outpatient treatment, otherwise known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Just three states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland – do not allow this while all other states and Washington, D.C. allow this life-saving treatment. Not coincidentally, Massachusetts has a very strong antipsychiatry movement. Groups promoting the belief that mental illness doesn’t exist are funded by the government and supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is wrong.  

4) Your novel was expertly crafted and showcased just how expertly researched and utilized the statistics were for the mental health care profession and mental health stats overall in our nation. Based on your research, what was one statistic that shocked you or would shock the average reader who is unaware of the problems facing the mental health profession or those suffering with mental health struggles?

The extent of malingering on inpatient and emergency settings is astronomical. According to a study, 12% of those admitted for emergency psychiatric care lied about their symptoms to get admitted to inpatient. The reasons for malingering vary. Malingerers drain health care resources and literally take away precious and limited inpatient bed space from those who truly need it. 

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? 

Facebook.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or anyone working in your field of study out there?

Please read Breakdown to learn from example or learn about emergency psychiatry. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects/studies on the horizon?

I am still working as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. I will not write another book, though plan on resuming blogging about my profession in the next few months. 

When it comes to therapy, there is no better site to find relationship advice from a licensed therapist than Regain. Click the link https://www.regain.us/advice/therapist/ to learn more!

About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee. 

At the Point of a Knife by Kenneth Richard Fox Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Readers are given a glimpse into the tragic reality of a faulty mental health system that fosters and allows those suffering form the most severe cases to be untreated, and a man’s struggle to fight a losing battle against an unprecedented legal fight like no other in author Kenneth Richard Fox’s “At the Point of a Knife”. 

The Synopsis

A memoir about a life-saving invention, the hijacking of a hi-tech start- up, and the explosive meltdown of a nuclear family

At the Point of a Knife is a real life thriller about a doctor who invents life-saving laser technology, his wife’s destructive inheritance and the legal conspiracy to steal his successful hi-tech start-up. Dr. Kenneth Fox fights off predatory companies as he battles globally for his company’s rights. But he ignores the threats to his family. By day, he has a successful career. By night, he lives with an increasingly mentally ill spouse. Although she is physically abusive with him and their son, Fox is emotionally co-dependent. At the same time, he is helping his dying mother and his chronically ill father.

There is an attempted murder. After this explosive nuclear family meltdown, Fox learns of his wife’s secret fortune including several homes. He also discovers the true story about her dead father: a hereditary bipolar disorder and the scandal that drove her family from her childhood home. In a final twist of fate, manic depression, money and judicial corruption intersect. Fox’s company is wrested away in a plot that includes a crooked lawyer and a corrupt judge who owes his career to his former partner in crime. 

Dr. Kenneth Fox is a physician and surgeon, an inventor of patented medical laser technology and a medicine and business professor. 

The Review

This was a powerful non-fiction read that people will have a hard time putting down. The story was clear and concisely written, showcasing a multitude of incidents that contributed to the deterioration of a family, the personal and business losses of a man and the gross injustices that often plague our society. 

The author’s in-depth study of the law practices in relation to medical field lawsuits and divorce proceedings which favor one person over the other really brought the harm endured through this man’s life to the forefront. Each chapter has the reader shaking their head, unable to believe that one man would be forced to endure such hardships.

More than that however, the novel allows readers to see the grave injustice that comes with failing to treat those suffering with mental illnesses, and how the taboo of suffering from such a disease or the inaccurate assumptions about mental illness often lead to a lack of diagnosis or care for such individuals, who if given proper treatment and care could avoid the unfortunate damage and suffering endured by both the patient and those closest to them, in this instance the author himself. 

The Verdict

Although a short read, this was a powerful and great read that fans of law cases, medical practices and the struggles of mental health will thoroughly enjoy. A whirlwind case that will get readers emotions stirring, this was a heart-pounding story that draws the reader in and gets them invested immensely, so be sure to grab your copy of “At the Point of a Knife” by Kenneth Richard Fox today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Kenneth R. Fox is the inventor of a great deal of laser medical technology and the patentee of many international patents. Dr. Fox has practiced Medicine in six countries on four continents and has lectured in many others. He has taught both Medicine and Business at several universities in a number of different countries. He is the author of many peer- reviewed medical and scientific articles, quite a few published poems and several short articles, mostly related to various aspects of health, but all based on his personal experiences over many years, as is At the Point of a Knife. 

Your can find more at http://www.kennethrfox.com