Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family Book Summary

The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins—aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony—and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?


What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.


With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.

Title:Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family
Edition Language:English



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    Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family Reviews

  • Diane S ?

    The odds of reading two books at the same time, where both families have twelve children, has to be high. That, though is there only commanality. I've never read anything like this, it was both hard t...

  • Elyse  Walters

    Meet the Galvin family......THIS IS A MIND BLOWING STORY!!!!FASCINATING - UNBELIEVABLE-RIVETING- INFORMATIVE- HEARTBREAKING! This is one of those non-fiction books that often reads like fiction. It’...

  • Beverly

    The Scourge of Schizophrenia This frightening and seemingly unfathomable, true story is about a family with 12 children in which 6 of the boys develop schizophrenia. So much suffering is hard to take ...

  • JanB

    “For a family, schizophrenia is, primarily, a felt experience, as if the foundation of the family is permanently tilted in the direction of the sick family member. Even if just one child has schizop...

  • Tammy

    This is a harrowing and intricate nonfiction account of an all-American family of twelve (ten boys and two girls) born between 1945 and 1965. I can’t begin to imagine having a family of this size mu...

  • Jessica Woodbury

    3.5 stars. Fascinating, readable, and depressing as hell. Unfortunately this fell a little short for me in a few ways.At first, the hook of this book is enough to draw your attention. Just one family,...

  • Beata

    This was, I think, my first book tackling one of the most mysterious diseases, schizophrenia. Mr Kolker explains the ways it was treated in the past in a most accessible way, at least I, not belonging...

  • Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    See my full review over on booktube: https://youtu.be/Y7qzkEtubH4...

  • Jeanette (Again)

    WORST. PARENTS. EVER.This book was a bit of a chaotic hot mess at the beginning, and I almost gave up on it a couple of times. The author meanders through long descriptions of sewing shut the eyes of ...

  • Jen

    Yikes. This was a disturbing read on so many levels and so dense. It’s a work of nonfiction. Mimi and Don Galvin decided to have 12 kids. Why???? Six of those children, all male, developed schizophr...