NAMI book club meets Nov. 15

The next book selection of the NAMI Fairfield Book Club is A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers the Science Behind Three Generations of Mental Illness by Victoria Costello Thursday, Nov. 15, 7-8:30 p.m. in the Jennings Room at the Fairfield Library Main Branch, 1080 Old Post Road.

Book copies are available at the Fairfield Public Library. For more information, call 203-256-3160.

Part memoir, part scientific detective story, A Lethal Inheritance, Emmy Award-winning science writer Victoria Costello investigates her family lineage for clues to the mental unraveling of her 17-year-old son Alex. Eventually she ties Alex’s descent into hallucinations and months of shoeless wandering on the streets of L.A. to a dark family secret: the apparent suicide of his great-grandfather on a New York City railroad track in 1913.

After learning that countless families share a similar “lethal inheritance,” she begins a decade-long search for answers. Among her discoveries is startling new brain science that sheds light on the links between addictions and undiagnosed mental disorders that have repeated in three past generations of her family-including her own lifelong depression.

But her search goes much further, ultimately yielding a new model of recovery based on early intervention and family involvement that can transform a tough genetic hand like Alex’s into a prescription for mental wellness, with implications for present and future generations. In the process, she delivers an unlikely “happy ending” applicable to hers and many other families.

A Lethal Inhertance is at once a primer on neuroscience, a spellbinding account of one family’s turbulent history, and an indispensible guide for parents who want to reverse a legacy of mental illness before it reaches their children.

In the words of the author, “I’ve learned three important lessons on my journey through mental illness. First, that I’ve done things in the wrong order. If we, as parents, get treatment for our own psychological or addiction issues, our children will suffer far less mental illness. That leads to my second discovery: intervening sooner for a mental health problem is better than picking up the pieces later. Lastly, I’ve learned that although we’re each born with inherited liabilities and assets, throughout our lives our minds become largely what we make of them. Once we get these three things, the game has changed, and we’re living in the prevention model of mental wellness where healthy minds rule.”

NAMI Fairfield and the Fairfield Public Library are offering this book club whose book selections will explore aspects of mental health and the brain.

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Its goals are to support those living with mental illness and their loved ones, to provide educational programs to the community that foster understanding and healthy living, and to provide advocacy.

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