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by Xavier Amador
Vida Press, 2000
Review by Lisa Perkins on Jun 2nd 2002

I am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!

Trying to help the mentally ill accept treatment when they feel they do not need it is difficult to say the least. The decision to force a person to do something they feel is unnecessary carries a burden not easily lifted. I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! by Xavier Amador will help ease the guilt and give practical information for those who have to make this difficult decision. I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! begins with forewords by Laurie Flynn, Connie Lieber, Frederic J. Frese III, all experts in mental health awareness.

 The preface by Amador gives insight to his personal dealings with serious mental illness. Amador’s brother, Henry, is mentally ill. Amador’s love for his brother, he says, was perhaps the most influential circumstance on Amador’s desire to become a clinical psychologist and schizophrenic researcher.

 Perhaps the most powerful preface in I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help!  is by Anna-Lisa Johanson. Her heart-felt introduction gives a wonderful insight of the book and the humanistic approach taken by the author. Johanson is the daughter of the “David Letterman stalker.” Her heartfelt letter brings the realization that the mentally ill person isn’t the only one affected by their disease.

 I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! has four parts, each divided into chapters. Amador begins with an overview of the book itself.  In the overview, Amador lists the different parts and explains the reasons the different parts are vital.

 Part I: Why they Deny having an Illness and Refuse Help begins with quotes from people who have dealt with mental illness of a family member, including David Kaczynski, brother to Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the “Unabomber.” This chapter deals with the reasons mentally ill people refuse help, and the difficulty they have admitting they have a problem in the first place. Amador explains why it’s important for the families and professionals working with them to know the disease itself.                   

 Part II: How to Help Them To Accept Treatment walks the reader through the process of helping the patient accept treatment step by step: listen, empathize, agree, partnership. Amador shares case histories where he points out the most effective way of getting the patient to listen and compares it to less successful methods. He explains why certain methods are not beneficial for the patient or those trying to work with him, and why other methods are so much more successful.

 Part III: To Commit or not to Commit? deals with the difficult decision that the loved ones of the mentally ill must make. Should the patient be committed or not? When is it necessary to commit them? How do I commit my loved one? Am I betraying my loved one by committing them? How do I deal with the guilt of doing this? All these questions are answered very effectively and sympathetically.

 Part IV: When The Dust Settles details how to keep a loved one on the road to treatment and some semblance of a normal life. This part also gives a very comprehensive listing of books, associations, and useful websites, as well summaries of laws of commitments by state.

 The last pages of the book give information about Xavier Amador and Anna-Lisa Johanson and their careers.

 This book was very easy to read and I recommend it to anyone who has to deal with mental illness questions. Throughout the book, Amador gives real-life scenarios and case histories, giving I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! a human angle seldom seen in self-help and medical books.

 

© 2002 Lisa Perkins

 

Lisa Perkins writes about herself:

I have been a contributing editor for Suite101.com for over a year in the topic History of the Oto Tribe. I became interested in the subject of mental health when my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I live in Southwest Missouri with my husband and 4 children. I plan to go to college to become a teacher.