Book Reviewed: The Day the Voices Stopped: A Memoir of Madness and Hope
By Ken Steele and Claire Berman
Available on Amazon.com for $11.61 Kindle Edition $9.99
Reviews of this book:
“Astonishing …. A mind-boggling account that will change the way readers respond to mental illness.” –Kirkus Reviews
“The Day the Voices Stopped will move you to tears, to anger and to action.” –Laurie Flynn, Former Executive Director, NAMI
“Steele’s sobering yet resonant and inspiring narrative refuses to sugarcoat the tremendous force of this disorder.” –Publishers Weekly
“The Day the Voices Stopped is not only gutsy, but gut-wrenching… This book represents a testament to the triumph of the human spirit, Ken’s indomitable will.” –The Pharos
From the book: “Fourteen-year-old Kenneth Steele was listening to the radio at his home in Connecticut when he first heard the voices. Like Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash – whose life story has been immortalized in A Beautiful Mind – Steele was to spend the next thirty-two years living with the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia: tortured by inner voices commanding him to kill himself. Ravaged by the delusions of paranoia, barely surviving on the ragged edges of society. In this inspiring story, Steele tells the story of his hard-won recovery from schizophrenia and how activism and advocacy helped him regain his sanity and go on to give hope and support to so many others like him.”
“Once upon a time there was a man named Ken Steele,” I will tell (my children) someday when they hold this book in their hands and are old enough to understand. He was an American hero,” I will say. –Claire Berman
Ken Steele died on October 7, 2000,
Peacefully, in his own bed.
He would have been fifty-two on October 9th.
How I came to read this book:
Actually, a friend told me about this book on the telephone. I liked the title so I went out and got it. I started to read it and at once like the clear and transparent writing style. The book is well written. It is easy to read. When I got to the third chapter, after Ken is expelled from his home and family by a father who doesn’t want to deal with him or his illness, I was a bit shocked when Ken ends up being lured into a life of male prostitution as a teenager. His traumatic story goes from bad to worse from there, and he spends the next thirty-two years on the streets and in mental institutions, the victim of the relentless voices that insistently tell him to kill himself, which he attempts numerous times. This is definitely a survival story, a memoir of a man faced with insurmountable odds, but who, in the end, overcomes all and thrives. I especially liked the last chapter, in which Ken clearly outlines the political gains made for mental illness by various presidential edicts and acts of Congress. It made me wish that Ken were still around to do the same now.
If you want to read a story about hearing voices from a first person point-of-view, read this book.
If you want to read an incredible survival story, read this book.
If you want to understand how mental illness can affect a person, read this book.
If references to male prostitution, male rape of a teenager in a mental institution, or the male gay lifestyle would offend you, then don’t read this book. Ken tells his story in a no-holds-barred fashion, and these facts are all a part of his story.
So, I pick this book, thumbs up, with that qualification!
by Margery Wakefield