Saturday, August 8, 2009

Irish Madness

Wildeve, was kind enough to send me this great book by Patrick Tracey. There were some unusual synchronicities, which she took as a sign, to pick up a signed (no pun intended) copy, from one of Tracey's book signings, for me. I love when things like that happen. After I read it, I knew exactly why she was prompted to send it.



Winner of the 2009 PEN New England Award, Tracey's book follows his journey to Ireland in search of answers to his family's struggle with mental illness. Two of Tracey's sisters developed schizophrenia, and his mother was troubled until her death, with the burden of realizing she passed the illness genetically on to her family.

In a London pub, Tracey randomly meets a doctor, who tells him of a genetic clue to the cause of schizophrenia in Ireland. The link was found in blood samples taken in County Roscommon, home to Tracey's ancestors. This information inspires a quest to unearth the roots of his family's multigenerational struggle with schizophrenia.

Tracey takes off on an excursion across Ireland, in a renovated camper, searching faerie mounds, haunted caves and healing springs. He pours over historical records and visits distant cousins looking for clues and separating fact from the legends of Irish madness.

I connected with Tracey on so many levels. My family traces back to Ireland and also has the genetic link to schizophrenia, which has troubled members of my extended family for several generations. I was right there with him, curious and driven through the entire account of his quest. I started reading and couldn't put it down.

This book is both poignant and powerful. Although it didn't give me all the answers, it did give me some much needed peace. Thank you, Mr. Tracey. And thank you, Wildeve. It was a sign.


For more info on Patrick Tracey and his book, click [HERE].

65 comments:

  1. Willow - fascinating book and a compelling review. I just reserved a copy from our library. Thank you for posting this.

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  2. I've never heard of this book -- FASCINATING! I love examples of synchronicity (and sharing).

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  3. wow. what friend you have made here on the internet. the book sounds quite interesting. Ill look it up.

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  4. hello willow, it's extraordinary - the depths of genetic history. my wife's family carries genetic information connected to huntingtons. the emerging history of this impacts directly on the future of my children of course. knowledge is everything in this instance.
    how very fortunate for you to receive goodness in kind from a reader. it's no surprise to me though willow as goodness begets goodness. have a peaceful evening. steven

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  5. This does look really interesting. Having schizophrenia gives you a special way of seeing the world and connecting with people- would love to read this.

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  6. Genealogy is one of those things people should do. You may think it hard but it is certainly easier today than it was years ago, before the Internet and computers. It is interesting that my cousin, President Lincoln, is thought to have had Marfan Syndrome (an elongation of limbs and as it turns out, internal organs stretch and that often leads to death). And Harvard, I believe, did a study on this and mapped out the sons in the line of descendents who would have Marfan Syndrome. I have had the collapsed lung, twice, and I also had the aortic aneurysm which would have been fatal for the President. Anyway...long story short, there is something to gain from knowing what your ancestors might have had.

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  7. And like you always say, "there's no such thing as coincidence" !!

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  8. What an interesting quest he went on..so fanciful too..must read this..
    I guess we all have trends of one sort or another in our families..to
    reveal or not!

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  9. Abe, my thoughts, exactly. And parents should let their children know exactly what their illnesses are. It really is easy to do genealogical work online these days. I posted on it some time back with links to key websites, if anyone is interested.

    http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/2009/02/genealogy-bug.html

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  10. I'm Irish on both sides with suicides in the immediate family (my mother, and my father's father) and I've struggled with depression all my life. Don't about the schizphrenia issue, but my family is not well.

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  11. This is a book I'll have to own. Extended family has this diagnosis, among other things. Thanks for sharing, Willow. :)

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  12. Another book to go on my ever lengthening, blogger recommended, must read list, sounds great.

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  13. My own mom's MS was what got me to start doing genealogical research some years ago, and I discovered that while it's not hereditary, there is a predisposition in certain families. I did find other family members in the past had had it-Scotland has the highest number of MS cases of any other country. Schizophrenia is such a difficult illness for families to deal with--fascinating. This book sounds very interesting--sounds like something I would pick up--I tend to like non-fiction better than fiction, and it sounds excellent, Willow. Thanks for the review.

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  14. I know I'd enjoy this; yet another for the list! Thanks.

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  15. Thanks Willow. I really enjoy true stories that involve personal introspection and thought. I want to find this one to read myself. How nice of your blog buddy to think of you when she found this book.

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  16. This sounds so interesting. I am of Irish descent and have some genetic mental illness issues that run in our family. I will be putting this on my nightstand to read.

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  17. Great post Willow. I'm also interested in genealogy and my daughters have, well, *issues* that I noticed my sister and mom have. I'd love to find out who else in the family had the same problems. I've done a family tree back several generations, but it makes me mad that Legacy wants to charge some outrageous fee. Especially since my interest waxes and wanes, I don't want to pay a monthly fee.
    I will def check out the book tho, looks very interesting!

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  18. 'to the seventh generation'. Not that I believe that punishment gets passed down. How long do you suppose it takes for a genetic disposition to get diluted enough to no longer prove a threat?

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  19. captivating synopsis of what sounds to be an even more captivating reading - thanks so much for sharing! i have irish roots, as well - also scottish, english, french - don't we all? :) - in any event, i've been doing some genealogy research for my family for a while and find that it is totally exciting/consuming - a jigsaw puzzle with one piece leading to another piece to another - i absolutely love it - anyway, great post!

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  20. An enjoyable and interesting post Willow. There is something about blogging and family history which just goes together. I suppose we are interested in telling the "small" story confident in the knowledge and belief that small stories reflect big lives. I must keep an eye open for the book.

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  21. Another great review and I'm so happy that you loved the salad recipe. I did say that I had impressed myself. I had it again for lunch yesterday and could not stop telling "me" how delicious it was. Wink xo S & les Gang

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  22. Hello Willow,

    The book I'm currently reading, 'The Gargoyle', has a character thought to suffer from schizophrenia/manic depression. Her behaviour sounds wonderful when fictionalised but may be very different in reality!

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  23. Mum's brother is the family geneologist. His youngest son has struggled with schizophrenia for most of his adult life.We had no idea the where's and why-fors.However,my uncle's fascinating search into the family line, through his father's ancestors, shows occasional males on the paternal line to be suffering from what we now know to be this.I am sure he would love to read this book. Thank you Willow. so much, for bringing it to my attention.

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  24. A lovely story, beautifully told and a great book review to boot! What more can I say? A triumph!

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  25. was just saying i need to find something new to read...sounds like its well worth it. love it when a book catches you at just the rright time...

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  26. Synchronicity indeed. So often the universe sends us just the right thing . . . .

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  27. That's a horrid illness and there are not many families who don't have it somewhere in the genes. As far as I know, there is no cure for it either, which makes it doubly abhorrent. The hardest part is convincing the person that they have it!
    Blessings, Star

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  28. Fascinating .. you know, there are no coincidences ..

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  29. I will only have two week to get in all my summer reading. This is going on the top of my list! Thanks!

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  30. I'll have to look for this book. I wonder if there's a link between this Irish madness and the amazing number of Irish writers of genius.

    Love the new header!

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  31. Now, this is really interesting, as I am smack in the middle of Angela's Ashes, and am reading about certain people that seem to have some sort of mental disorder, not related to the drink. I'll have to put this book on my reading list...along with the 50 others I have yet to get to.

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  32. Thanks so much, now I understand my mothers family!

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  33. I really want to read this book! I had a family member who struggled with a mystery mental handicap that with age caused them to withdraw and become paranoid. Doctors ruled out Schizophrenia and said they were totally stumped by the problem and finally decided it stemmed from a blacked out memory of an emotional trauma in chilhood. I never bought that theory though. Glad your friend got this for you and thanks for sharing this wondrful post! :)

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  34. thanks for the review! sounds right up my alley!

    I'm interested in checking it out - in fact, will check to see if I can check it out (of the CPL! that is - hope they have it in their collection)

    relatedly, have you read wally lamb's 2nd novel "I know this much is true" - powerful story about identical twin brothers (one brother is schizophrenic the other is the novel's protagonist who is trying to make sense and accept himself and his complicated family) - although I read it ten years ago it is a book that moves me to this day.

    wally's third novel also takes on issues of mental illness and family histories

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  35. Hey, Mouse, thanks so much for the Lamb recommendations. I'm going online right now to see of the Columbus Public Library system has these. I need to read them!

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  36. Willow, I'm reading a book by poet Thomas Lynch ( a Michigan-born, Irish-roots, undertaker). The book is called, "The Undertaking" and it is fantastic. I'm sure you would really enjoy it as I would enjoy this Tracey book. Thanks for posting about this.
    Still got a busted computer, by the way.

    Kat

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  37. P.S. Love the new header. I recognize that box!

    Kat

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  38. Amazing how pathology and ancsstry combined in this instance. And since you have done so much research into your family history I can see the parallels. Many thanks for the review.

    Greetings from London.

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  39. Where do you keep WT's matches that he brings from all over the world? (I just read Elizabeth's post, and your comment on it, and I thought that I would "interconnect" a bit.)

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  40. It literally was a sign, a sign that said "Willow,' that led me to send the book. I sent a link to Patrick, I'm sure he would like to read this.

    here is a link to his website:

    stalkingirishmadness.com

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  41. And you are very welcome, Willow, dear.

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  42. Wow. How fascinating ... and sad. Makes me curious. G.K. Chesterton said it's indulging the mystical and poetic side of our nature that keeps human beings sane. So maybe Ireland would be worse off without the sacred wells and fairy mounds.

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  43. PS Might be interesting to have an extended discussion about the pros & cons of knowing our genetic history. I can see how it would bring comfort in restrospect, especially with illnesses like this that might be blamed on the sufferers or their families. But is there such a thing as too much curiosity about our probable future health problems? Anyone seen Gattica? So ... is it better to know, not to know, or only to go find out once you have a good reason?

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  44. Willow, what a lovely piece of synchronicity that's so meant to be! Wildeve,thanks for getting my book to Willow. You've all made my weekend! - Patrick

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  45. Patrick, thank you so much for visiting Willow Manor. Your book is fascinating. And you've just made my weekend! ~willow

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  46. Willow, I always click with the Librans, myself being an Aries sun with the Libra moon. Did Ireland hurt your people into madness too?

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  47. Yes, I will have to blame it on Ireland. Although my paternal line originates in Scotland, they spent several generations in Ireland before migrating to the US. My maternal line also ties to Ireland but I've had a hard time tracing them.

    I've always maintained that fire and air signs mix well!

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  48. Jen, that's a very intriguing point about the folk lore being a healthy part of human nature.

    And yes, thought provoking question about knowing our whether or not our genetics will cause future health problems. I just recently saw a piece on the news about this. I must post on this topic soon.

    I think I would want to know, to try to do all to prevent or delay the complications.

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  49. Bee, the matches are in a large silver bowl. I need to put them in a clear container with a lid, to preserve them. They're kinda dusty.

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  50. Well it's nice to know you . . . I love your blog, site, views, interests . . . Where are you located? A

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  51. Thank you, Patrick. I'm in Dublin. (Dublin, Ohio, that is!)

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  52. Wow, very interesting. Great synchronicity. The book sounds very interesting.

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  53. What a thoughtful gift and it sounds like a great read WIllow..Have a wonderful weekend, xv.

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  54. Thanks Willow, I have already referred this book to a friend whose son suffers from the disease and she went out and bought it.

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  55. I think it is wonderful that Patrick Tracey and others are seeking out the roots of family problems. Genetics, history, the teachings we're taught and physics as we know it are all part of it all.

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  56. Interesting. Most psychological illnesses derive from nutritional/chemical imbalances. I hope this book helps you discover the links.

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  57. I have put this on my books to read list willow - thanks for mentioning it, it sounds most interesting.

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  58. I think it's absolutely cool that the author is here commenting on your blog, Willow! :)

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  59. I love a book that takes us on such a quest. I'd never heard of it before either, but you've really peaked my interest.

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  60. Sounds so interesting, Willow!! Thank you for sharing the way that you always do. People come here for refreshment and leave satisfied. ♥

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  61. Genealogy and Mental Health....thats a powerful combination.Interesting......Genealogy sometimes seems really 'dry' to me , in that its hard to get to know the humanity of an ancestor.But to get some inkling of how that person actually felt is facinating.

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  62. Off subject but I too am anxious to see the Julia Child movie!Expecting a review!

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  63. After going through this artical i have decided to bookmark this site found this really interesting & thanks a lot for keeping the blog Lively with such interesting blogs.

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  64. Do you know if "Boyd" is an Irish name?

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  65. Yes, Betsy, I believe it is!

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)