Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don's work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins—aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony—and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?


What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.


With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.

Title:Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780385543767
Format Type:

    Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family Reviews

  • Diane S ?

    The odds of reading two books at the same time, where both families have twelve children, has to be high. That, though is there only commanality. I've never read anything like this, it was both hard t...

  • Elyse  Walters

    Meet the Galvin family......THIS IS A MIND BLOWING STORY!!!!FASCINATING - UNBELIEVABLE-RIVETING- INFORMATIVE- HEARTBREAKING! This is one of those non-fiction books that often reads like fiction. It’...

  • Beverly

    The Scourge of Schizophrenia This frightening and seemingly unfathomable, true story is about a family with 12 children in which 6 of the boys develop schizophrenia. So much suffering is hard to take ...

  • Tammy

    This is a harrowing and intricate nonfiction account of an all-American family of twelve (ten boys and two girls) born between 1945 and 1965. I can’t begin to imagine having a family of this size mu...

  • Olive

    See my full review over on booktube: https://youtu.be/Y7qzkEtubH4...

  • Lolly K Dandeneau

    Before my review, I just want to say this book left a lump in my throat, it was an emotional journey. I felt it in my gut and wish I could reach out and support every single one of the Galvin children...

  • Tooter

    5 Stars!...

  • Jessica Woodbury

    3.5 stars. Fascinating, readable, and depressing as hell. Unfortunately this fell a little short for me in a few ways.At first, the hook of this book is enough to draw your attention. Just one family,...

  • Donna Davis

    Happy anniversary, Doubleday. This is my thirtieth review for you. Big thanks go to Net Galley and Doubleday for the review copy. I wanted to read Kolker’s book because so little is written about sc...

  • L A i N E Y

    “Children usually have no way of processing trauma beyond their own experience. And so, all too often, they blame themselves.”What a fascinating book for a remarkable family. Considering how much ...