No drugs. No alcohol. So, how does a fifty-three-year-old develop schizophrenia? That question puzzles Joseph’s family when his mind descends into madness, filled with delusions and paranoia. He roams the world as a self-proclaimed prophet-of-God—purportedly arrested in Israel, advised the Mafioso in Italy, and hailed as a prophet in Africa. When he returns to the United States, he faces down drug dealers and prostitutes while homeless, then disappears.
His wife and three kids race to find answers before he slips away forever. Their biggest fear—he will die a faceless stranger. Alone.
Winner of a Benjamin Franklin Silver Award in psychology, Losing Dad, Paranoid Schizophrenia: A Family's Search for Hope is a compelling true story told through multiple perspectives—the children, spouse, and patient. It offers a rare glimpse into a world that will either feel hauntingly familiar or shocking.
The foreword written by Dr. Xavier Amador, Founder, LEAP Institute and author, I am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help! explains the neurological condition of anosognosia.
This 10th Anniversary Edition has rearranged formatting for improved readability and additional supplemental materials, which include updated discussion of laws related to mental illness, family interviews, photographs, resources, and expanded reading guide questions ideal for book clubs, classroom discussion, or professional education for those in mental health, law enforcement, political, medical, and legal fields to better understand the impact of severe mental illness, both as experienced by family caregivers and the community. Well-suited for use in Psychopathology courses to understand schizophrenia through the study of lived experience.
Plot/Idea: LaPera recounts the harrowing tale of her father's descent into mental illness and her family's quest to help him in a direct, no-holds-barred approach that invites readers into the situation. Together, author and reader embark on the highs and lows of Joseph's journey, tugging away at a wide range of emotions.
Prose: LaPera is a talented writer, able to convincingly characterize her father's mental illness and provoke frustration, compassion, and feelings of impotence in readers, similar to the emotions experienced by the author herself.
Originality: While mental illness and complicated familial relationships are frequently explored in memoir, LaPera offers a uniquely powerful. deeply personal chronicle that will resonate with readers.
Character/Execution: Characterization is top-notch and intimate, particularly her well-rounded, resonating portrayal of LaPera's father.
Date Submitted: October 10, 2023
“Something bad is going to happen,” Joseph said to his wife, Hilda, in October, 1996. That proved a self-fulfilling prophecy as life as he knew it seemingly changed overnight. LaPera recounts during the early stages before diagnosis her father began to act differently—talking to himself, believing family was plotting against him, and more. After multiple stays in a mental facility, Joseph's psychosis prompted him to leave his family behind and embark on a thirty-country journey, believing himself a "prophet of God.” He limited his communication to phone calls, postcards, emails, and Bible verses for years at a time.
“If my family had understood anosognosia and the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, our story could have turned out very differently,” LaPera notes, and her gripping, touching account ensures that other families facing similar travails will know. Losing Dad pays homage to the father that LaPera once knew and also the one she had to learn to accept. It offers a visceral, often heart-rending portrait chronicle, with welcome attention paid to the rippling effects of mental illness. Readers will be emotionally affected by this story that contributes much that’s wise and healthy to the ongoing conversation.
Takeaway: Wise, emotional memoir about the devastating effects of mental illness.
Comparable Titles: Norah Vincent's Voluntary Madness, Roy Richard Grinker's Nobody's Normal.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
Losing Dad, Paranoid Schizophrenia: A Family’s Search for Hope is written by Amanda LaPera. LaPera’s father was diagnosed with cancer. After going through the surgery, he left his family in search of a more divine purpose. He sends postcards from some of the places he visits and agrees to baptize Amanda and her son at her home. But he cancels, as if sensing that she had planned to get him the help he needed. Her father was suffering from a late onset of Schizophrenia that drew him away from the family and to other countries, behaving in ways that were not in his normal character, including his callous comments about the deaths of his parents. Still, the family held out hope that he would come home and get the help he needed for his mental illness.
Losing Dad, Paranoid Schizophrenia is a sad journey that explains how the onset of mental illness is not always during the earlier years of life. Amanda LaPera has shown a great amount of bravery in sharing the ordeal she and her family faced while trying to find a way to help her father through his mental illness. The astounding patience, compassion, love, commitment to family, and willpower LaPera has shown while coping with such an issue is remarkable. I recommend Losing Dad, Paranoid Schizophrenia to anyone who faces mental illness or knows someone who does. This book will inspire and encourage loved ones not to give up hope even when getting help seems all but impossible.