Today I have the honor of interviewing Irish author Patrick Tracey, who penned an amazing book, “Stalking Irish Madness Searching for the Roots of My Family’s Schizophrenia,” for which he has won the Ken Book Award from the National Alliance on Mental …

5 Comments to
Stalking Irish Madness: An Interview with Patrick Tracey

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  1. Patrick, your book sounds fascinating.

    As someone of Irish descent, who also has schizoid tendencies, who has also had many troubled relationships with women of Irish descent, your ideas seem fascinating and I’ll definitely check out your book.

    What I’d like you to check out is the relationship between sunlight (vitamin D) and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Ireland’s latitude and climate are less than optimal for sunlight exposure, and serum vitamin D levels are being linked with geographic prevalance of certain diseases like multiple sclerosis and cancer. A link to neurological diseases might not be too far-fetched.

    One specific study that you should read was published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, May 2009. The title is “Relation of schizophrenia prevalence to latitude, climate, fish consumption, infant mortality, and skin color.” The abstract is available at:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19357239

    The more I learn about things like vitamin D, the more skeptical I become about traditional psychology’s ability to truly heal individuals who have neurological illnesses. It won’t hurt a thing to educate yourself about the roots of schizophrenia. If “the environment pulls the trigger,” there are fewer things more environmental than sunlight.

  2. Thanks for the link. Of course prenatal malnourisment was the big driver that produced the big bubble in Ireland. So this is very interesting.

    I’m less sure about the study’s conclusion that higher rates at higher latitudes “overwhelm protective effects of better healthcare in industrialized countries.”

    My instinct is to say this may give too much credit to healthcare in industrialized countries, which is quicker to associate hearing voices with the disease model–and then they generally ignore the voices altogether after that. Or, worse, to try to obliterate them with largely ineffective meds.

    Psychiatry itself has ignored these voices, asserting that they were nothing. Now the ground has shifted underneath their feet and people who hear voices are reclaiming their lives through the therapy of “dialoguing” with their voices in concert with other people with schizophrenia who also hear them.

  3. Wow! You had a lot of balls writing this book. I believe the Irish culture continues to pull the trigger for mental illness, however when I have mentioned it in conversations with other Irish or family I have been labeled as the nutjob and have been exiled from family or social circles. How have you dealt with the reprecussions of letting the Irish secret out?

  4. my uncle spent 75 years in a mental hospital here in ireland 1928 to 2003, diagnosed with a type of schizophrenia, my two sisters have also been hospitilized, with mental illness, what are the chances of the next generation also having it best wishes josephine

  5. Having experienced what may have been mild schizophrenia (very heavy interior voices, though not audible), and not knowing the history of my Irish-blood mother (died when I was 6), I gave birth to a son, who at the usual age of 26 was in the depths of the illness. As a writer, poet, artist, actress, I already knew the value of “listening” to the inner muses, though I learned, in time how to discern, invite, or kick out the disembodiedies; I often encouraged my son to talk to his voices, or tell me what they said, and we often replied to them with humor, or insistence that they get the hell out. I stood with him through so many not-understanding psychiatrists, psychologists, and only one of maybe 50, actually ackknoweldged that for my son, his experience was the truth.

    Am so grateful you wrote the book; my experience with my son has been too painful to write. And yest, dialogue is everything, but it requires care-givers and family to acknowledge that for the victim, the voices are real, and interactive.

  6. I too have found a link in my maternal Irish Catholic family who suffer from schizophrenia. My mother died at age 54 two years ago. She battled schizophrenia for 23 years. She had one sister with a confirmed case of schizophrenia since age 14. Out of a family of ten kids (7 girls 3 boys) 6 of the girls have a confirmed mental illness ranging from; schizophrenia, mania, bipolar and anxiety disorder. One of the boys diagnosed with bipolar. My mother was such a beautiful person inside and out despite her dark tragic illness. At age nine she lost custody of all 5 of her children. The things I saw and heard were so traumatic for me I am still on anti anxiety meds at 33 years old. She lived her last ten years of life in a home. Her illness and years of meds
    as well as family tragedies left her with neurological problems that caused seizures as well as choking episodes that in the end were fatal. She had a
    mentally ill, violent sister who abused drugs. She, during an episode of mania
    and drugs fell to her death from a hotel room. My family was very Catholic and
    kept many “old school” rituals that I partly blame for my OCD. I can’t wait to
    read your book, I’m glad to know someone is researching this topic. I was
    encouraged by my therapist to write about my family. Two months ago I
    completed my manuscript and hope to have it self published. I have nothing
    higher than a HS diploma, however something inside me wants to share my
    story snd exploit this monster of an illness that robbed me of my mother, her of
    her life and my childhood. My mother came from an Irish mother and father. I have info on my maternal line. My great great grandmother at age ten came to America with her eleven year old sister. Their parents either died or only had money to send them, however they came here alone as children. I do have some hair that my mother left behind on a necklace and I was saving it for DNA purposes. Any suggestions to anything I’ve mentioned?

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