On a cold February day two months after his 20th birthday, Henry waded into the lethally cold Newhaven estuary and almost drowned. The trees, he said, had told him to do it.
In Afghanistan, Patrick learned that Henry had been admitted to a hospital mental ward. Ten days later he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. With remarkable candour, Patrick writes of the seven years Henry has since spent almost entirely in mental hospitals. Schizophrenics are at high risk for suicide, and his parents live in constant fear for Henry's life.
The book also includes Henry's own account of his experiences. In these raw and eerily beautiful chapters he tells of his visions and voices, the sense that he has discovered something magical and profound. Together, Patrick and Henry's stories create one of the most nuanced and revealing portraits of mental illness ever written, and a stirring memoir of family, parenthood, and courage.
Patrick Cockburn is Iraq correspondent for the Independent in London. He has received the Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting, the James Cameron Award, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism. He is the author of Muqtada, about war and rebellion in Iraq;The Occupation (shortlisted for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2007); The Broken Boy, a memoir; and with Andrew Cockburn, Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein.
Henry Cockburn was born in London and raised in Canterbury, where he attended King's School and received several awards for his artwork. In 2002, during his first year studying art at Brighton University, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He recently moved out of a rehabilitation center to begin living independently.
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