National Alliance on Mental Illness
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I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help! Helping the Seriously Mentally Ill Accept Treatment: A Practical Guide for Families and Therapists

by Xavier Amador, Ph.D., with Anna-Lisa Johanson

Review by Judith Paterson, Ph.D., James A. Marley, Ph.D., and Mary Beth Heiskell, NAMI Literature Committee

(Vida Press, 2000, 1-800-431-1579 or 240 pages. Paperback: $17.95)

Dr. Xavier Amador has a brother, Henry, who has schizophrenia. Like so many of the seriously mentally ill, Henry Amador did not think he was ill and saw treatment as punishment. Dr. Amador's experience with his brother mirrors the frustration and despair of all who must deal with seriously mentally ill family members and clients who reject treatment.

In response to his brother's illness, Xavier Amador became a doctor and a world-renowned researcher on the problem of poor insight into illness in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Drawing on his own research, he presents convincing evidence that "deficit in self-awareness" and consequent rejection of treatment stem from the same sort of brain dysfunction that produces the other symptoms of the disease-rather than from stubbornness or any other character flaw. He uses that knowledge to suggest sensible and practical new approaches to persuading people with serious mental illnesses to cooperate in their own recovery.

Dr. Amador has written a practical and user-friendly handbook for family members and professionals. The format is straightforward and handy. It answers questions directly and offers specific suggestions for handling common situations.

The research presented in the book will be intriguing to many NAMI members. As an approach to the stubborn problems of recognition of illness and treatment adherence, it could be a Godsend.