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What a Life Can Be: One Therapist's Take on Schizo-Affective Disorder. [Paperback]

Carolyn Dobbins Phd

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Book Description

Oct. 16 2011
A fascinating look into the world of schizo-affective disorder which, at times, is funny, heartbreaking, but above all uplifting. Dr. Carolyn Dobbins describes the onset and progression of this debilitating disease and gives readers hope. The book breaks through the stigma as mental illness affects us all. Included at the end are facts about serious mental illness, the 6 A's of self help and Dr Dobbins' message to her counseling colleagues who may be surprised, as all readers will be, by the ending. In an advance review, the National Alliance on Mental Illness said this book is told in an unorthodox but very effective manner." and that "people are more than their illness". Dr E Fuller Torrey, author of Surviving Schizophrenia, said "an inspiration for all who have ever experienced psychosis" Dr. Thomas G Burish, a professor of psychology and Provost of Notre Dame University said this book is "powerful and revealing, and provides a unique insight into chronic mental disease". He added that the book is "a probing, liberating story"

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What a Life Can Be: One Therapist's Take on Schizo-Affective Disorder. + After Her Brain Broke: Helping My Daughter Recover Her Sanity
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and a good read Nov. 3 2011
By Sandra Yuen MacKay - Published on Amazon.com
Carolyn writes with sensitivity, confidence, sincerity, and great perceptiveness. She acknowledges the problems of disclosure because of stigma and ignorance but also the value in openness to help others. She skillfully explores schizo-affective disorder from the point of view of the mental health consumer, therapist, and society -- the inside and the outside. There are many layers in her writing which intertwine thoughts, emotions, experiences, maturity, and acceptance.

I agree with her belief that mental illness needn't block one from education, paid work, volunteering or creating purpose in life. Carolyn recognizes the individuality of people with mental illness and the importance of hope and empathy. I admire her ability to rise above adversity and excel in so many ways.

Sandra Yuen MacKay, author of My Schizophrenic Life
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Insight for Parents March 20 2013
By Constance T. Barker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I felt so grateful for and blessed by this memoir that I emailed the author to thank her.....and I actually received a response from her!!! What a nice person she is!
Our son, age 34, is schizo-affective with bipolar II, and everything I read online indicated he would never "have a lilfe." Carolyn's experience belies this and has given us hope, although, as this book taught us, victims of this disorder come in as great variety as do people in the general, non-afflicted population. Not everyone is as smart and as ambitious as Carolyn, but there is hope for everyone, and we learned not to allow ourselves or our son to be victimized a second time by the negative stigma that mental illness often arouses in others.
Fortunately, our son had a late onset of schizo symptoms and has a college degree and years of positive social interaction, so he may have a slightly better prognosis than some.
This is a must read for parents of mentally ill children.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important and Enlightening Book Jan. 18 2012
By Sandy Sanchez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
What A Live Can Be, One Therapist's Take on Schizo-Affective Disorder
By Carolyn Dobbin, PhD
ISBN 978-0-9866522-2-6

The author employs a strategy whereby the client writes her story and the therapist writes hers, so the reader gets two perspectives, from the outside looking in and from the inside looking out. What makes it especially effective is that the writing is so vivid and authentic that you don't feel like you are being instructed about this mental disorder, you feel like you are experiencing it. For this reason it is difficult to read this book through all at once: a reader needs to take a breather after particularly stressful episodes and recover. What makes this author so effective at creating empathy is that she herself was and is both client and therapist, a woman who developed this mental illness of which she writes in her late teens. Both stories are hers to tell and she tells them with the same skill, intelligence and insight she had to have to get through school while suffering from this disorder.

Having represented many many clients with mental disorders in both the Mental Health and Juvenile Courts during my legal career and having gotten to know them as individuals instead of stereotypes the following especially resonated with me:

"It's 1988 and I am 28 years old. I've been seeing another psychologist throughout graduate school. He knows everything about me. He's terrific, caring and warm. The great thing about him is that he just completed graduate school which maybe allows him to be open and to be able to see me for me and not through a diagnostic manual that, it seems, one uses to stereotype. (What is my stereotype because I have never figured it out.) As therapists age and grow, it seems that some of them get calloused and treat people more like disorders than people. He teaches me a lot about my strengths. I have great interest in understanding everyone's strengths. I am not saying that I have succeeded but people matter to me. I love hearing about people's own realities." P.77

I highly recommend this book to anyone who either suffers from or has a family member who suffers from this or other kinds of mental disorder, to lawyers who work with clients with this kind of disorder and, yes, to psychologists who can expand their own consciousness by experiencing this situation from the other side. If you give this book the attention it deserves you will find it emotionally exhausting but worth the effort for the reward of significant and perhaps life changing enlightenment.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parent of Schizophrenia July 25 2012
By Pomeroy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dr. Dobbins provides amazing insights into the mind of schizophrenia. Her story is also extremely inspirational and provides hope for anyone suffering from the disorder.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful April 6 2014
By angelina monell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book to get a better insight with Schizo-Affective D/O. It was a very good read and insightful. As a therapist, it can be hard to put ourselves in client's shoes. This book help me see what I always believed, we are only limited by our own thoughts.

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