A Legacy of Madness by Tom Davis
Recovering My Family from Generations of Mental Illness

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The story of a loving family coming to grips with its own fragilities, A Legacy of Madness relays the author's journey to uncover, and ultimately understand, the history of mental illness that led generations of his suburban American family to their demise.

Dede Davis had worried, fussed, and obsessed for the last time: Her heart stopped beating in a fit of anxiety. In the wake of his mother's death, Tom Davis knew one thing: Helplessly self-absorbed and severely obsessive compulsive, Dede led a tormented life. She spent years bouncing around mental health facilities, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities, but what really caused her death?

A Legacy of Madness portrays Tom Davis's captivating discoveries of mental illness throughout generations of his family. Investigating his mother's history led to that of Davis's grandfather, a top administrator at one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in the country; his great-grandfather who died of self-inflicted gas asphyxiation during the Depression; and his great-great grandmother who, with her eldest son, completed suicide one tragic day. Ultimately, four generations of family members showed clear signs of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and alcoholism--often mistreated illnesses that test one's ability to cope.

Through this intimate memoir, we join Davis on a personal odyssey to ensure that he and his siblings, the fifth generation,--recover their family legacy by not only surviving their own mental health disorders but by getting the help they need to lead healthy, balanced lives. In the end, we witness Davis's powerful transition as he makes peace with the past and heals through forgiveness and compassion for his family--and himself.

About the author Tom Davis is the Jersey Shore regional editor for Patch.com and an adjunct professor of journalism at Rutgers University. This is his first book. He lives in Metuchen, New Jersey.


About Tom Davis

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Tom Davis is the president and CEO of Children’s HopeChest, a global orphan advocacy group. He has authored four books, including the first in this series, Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World. Tom and his wife, Emily, have seven children and live in Colorado.
Published September 28, 2011 by Hazelden. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Peering into the past, he opens this family history with a vivid recreation of the day his mother died, ending her 30-year battle with mental illness: “I had had many of the same impulses as my mother and grandfather, enduring years of eating disorders and obsessive compulsiveness.

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of A Legacy of Madness: Recoveri...

Brevity Magazine

They saw only what my mother would call ‘the nuthouse,’ one of the largest psychiatric facilities in the country, staring them down every day.” In this ambitious book, Tom digs into his relatives’ past, jumping from Hightstown in the 1930s, where his grandfather grew up, to Point Pleasant in th...

Jan 10 2013 | Read Full Review of A Legacy of Madness: Recoveri...

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