In a book that has been called “powerful and emotional,” author Katherine Flannery Dering brings to life the experiences of one large family before and after the onset of mental illness. The book takes the reader into the author’s world of caring for her younger brother Paul, who suffered from schizophrenia and then lung cancer.
Shot in the Head A Sister’s Memoir, A Brother’s Struggle is “a readable and important book,” says Randye Kaye, the author of Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope. She added that the reader “will fall in love with the Flannery clan, who stepped up to support their brother Paul throughout his sad journey.” Elizabeth Eslami, an award-winning author, calls the book “Both universal and personal” as the author “unspools her story with urgent compassion and grace.”
Psychologist Dr. Fred Frese, former vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and past board member of the Treatment Advocacy Center, said, “This eye-opening account of the realities of having a seriously mentally ill family member should be at the top of the ‘must read’ list for anyone involved with, or otherwise interested in, improving mental health services for those who are most in need.”
As the author says, “my younger brother Paul was more than a ‘schizophrenic.’ He was a brother, a son, and above all, a person that my eight siblings and I loved. My family had lived with Paul’s condition for years, and had grown used to his strange stories and sometimes frightening behavior. It wasn’t until his care – and his treatments for lung cancer – started taking more and more of my attention that I realized his story demanded to be written.”
Katherine Flannery Dering holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College. Her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous small literary journals. A narrative non-fiction piece, which later became a chapter of Shot in the Head, was included in Stories from the Couch, an anthology of essays about coping with mental illness.