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|THE DAY THE VOICES STOPPED: A Memoir of Madness and Hope. By Ken Steele and Claire Berman. (Basic Books, 2001; paperback, April 2002)
When he was fourteen years old, Ken Steele was visited by voices. Kill yourself
. Set yourself on fire, they commanded. The diagnosis was Schizophrenia.
The Day the Voices Stopped is a personal account of Kens 32 years of living with the voicesan odyssey that took him to the streets, to rooftops from which he tried to jump, to bars and homeless shelters, to psychiatric institutions, hospitals, and half-way houses across the country.
Then one day, at the Park Slope Center for Mental Health, he received not just counseling but Risperdal, an atypical antipsychotic medication. The voices stopped. It is a remarkably powerful moment in the story, written with a combination of awe, appreciation and gracethe perfect antidote to the grim, urgent tone of the earlier pages
[The book is] a mind-boggling account that will change the way readers respond to mental illness.
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Steeles sobering yet resonant and inspiring narrative refuses to sugarcoat the tremendous force of this disorder and its stubborn resistance to recovery.
Freed of the voices, Ken became a nationally recognized advocate for the rights of people with mental illnesses:
I vowed I would use my own voice, in whatever ways I could, to make life better for myself and others who struggle, each day, to survive schizophrenia and other devastating diseases of the mind
Ken Steele died on October 7, 2000, at the age of 51. This is his remarkable story.