The Shaman Who Transformed My Schizophrenic Son

After a Decade Cycling Through Hospitals and Drugs, a Trip to Africa and a Foray into Tribal Medicine Gave Our Family Hope

At the age of 17, after a wonderful summer of fishing and learning to surf, my son, then in his junior year at a Boston high school, told me one afternoon, “I don’t know what’s happening, I can’t find my old self again.” Shortly thereafter, Franklin had to be hospitalized. The evaluation described an “increase in psychotic symptoms, including paranoid thoughts, command hallucinations telling him to hurt himself.” These things were “associated with the onset of schizophrenia.”

That was the autumn of 1996. For many years afterward, my son was …

When a Felony Is No Longer a Felony

How Redefining Nonviolent Crimes Is Changing California’s Justice System

After decades of building prisons and increasing the number of people behind bars, the pendulum of California’s criminal justice system has swung away from incarceration. Among the policies and laws …

This Is Your Mind on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

I Thought I’d Feel Less Alone After Finding Out That Other People Had This Condition, But I Just Felt More Hopeless

The first time I broke my hand I lied about how it happened. Soccer injury, I told friends who responded with praise instead of concern. My family didn’t even notice. …

Dogs Get Dementia, Too

Our Canine Companions Are Living Longer—and Facing the Same Challenges as Humans

Zeigfield waddled, rather than walked, into my examination room. I had been seeing this obese Dachshund at my veterinary hospital for most of his 17 years, treating many of the …

How Do You Grieve a Distant Father?

My Dad’s Traditional Chinese Upbringing and His Mental Illness Kept Me From Understanding Who He Was—Until the Very End

My father was absent for most of my childhood and adult life. Not in the sense that he abandoned my mother and ran away. Absent in that he was unable …

My Uncle’s Years of Living Dangerously

Serving as Translator and Tour Guide for a Veteran Battling Schizophrenia

My 69-year-old uncle Henry gazed into the jaws of the Natural History Museum’s biggest celebrity, Thomas the T. rex, who was frozen in a silent roar.

I asked Henry, “How do …