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Henry's Demons

Henry's Demons

A Father and Son's Journey Out of Madness

Now in paperback, the exceptionally well-reviewed, “intimate and authoritative…outstanding double memoir” (The New York Times Book Review)about schizophrenia written by an eminent journalist and his son. 

On a cold February day two months after his twentieth birthday, Henry Cockburn waded into an estuary outside Brighton, England and nearly drowned. Voices, he said, had urged him to do it. Nearly halfway around the world in Afghanistan, journalist Patrick Cockburn learned his son had been admitted to a hospital. Ten days later, Henry was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Narrated by Patrick and Henry, this is the haunting, extraordinary story of the eight years he spent almost entirely in hospitals—and his family’s steadfast response to a bewildering condition. 

Combining Patrick’s frank reporting of his son’s transformation from art student to mental patient with Henry's raw, eerily beautiful description of hearing trees and bushes speaking to him, voices compelling him to wander the countryside, the loneliness of life within hospital walls, and finally, his steps towards recovery, Henry's Demons is one of the most profoundly moving and revealing accounts of mental illness ever written.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439154717 | 
  • February 2012
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Henry Cockburn's account of battling Schizophrenia

Henry Cockburn, of the father-son memoir Henry's Demons, talks of his experiences living with schizophrenia.

Read an Excerpt


On February 8, 2002, I called my wife, Jan, by satellite phone from Kabul, where I was writing about the fall of the Taliban. It had been snowing, and as I leaned out of the window of the guesthouse where I was staying to get better reception, I felt very cold. Jan’s voice sounded thin and distant but more anxious than I had ever heard it, and I felt a sense of instant dread as I realised there had been some disaster. I could not make out the details, but I grasped that Henry, our twenty-year-old son, had nearly died when he swam Newhaven estuary fully clothed and was rescued by fishermen as he... see more

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