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Writers LIVE! Robert Kolker, Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

The program is presented in partnership with NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore. Robert Kolker will be in conversation with Dr. Karen L. Swartz.

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

Robert Kolker is the New York Times bestselling author of Lost Girls, named one of the New York Times's 100 Notable Books and one of Publishers Weekly's Top Ten Books of 2013. As a journalist, his work has appeared in New York magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, GQ, O magazine,and Men's Journal. He is a National Magazine Award finalist and a recipient of the 2011 Harry Frank Guggenheim Award for Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Karen L. Swartz, M.D. is the Director of Clinical and Educational Programs at the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.  She received her B.A. from Princeton University and her M.D. from Johns Hopkins.  She completed her residency in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1995 where she served as Chief Resident.  She is the founder and director of the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP), a school-based program designed to educate high school students, faculty, and parents about adolescent depression.  In its 21st year, the ADAP curriculum has been taught to over 115,000 high school students. 

Register through EventBrite for reminders. Click here to register, tickets available 9am on September 30.

Visit to order your copy of Hidden Valley Road.

Writers LIVE programs are supported in part by a bequest from The Miss Howard Hubbard Adult Programming Fund. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Writers LIVE!, Virtual Event

Age Group

Adults, Seniors

Compass Category

Writers LIVE at the Library

Event Publisher

Emily Levine, Manager of Adult Services

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Jo Ann Jolivet

Jo Ann Jolivet left a positive review 10/13/2020

It was quite informative.

Himani Shishodia

Himani Shishodia left a positive review 10/13/2020

Fantastic opportunity to hear this author and likewise from a local psychiatrist who was an incredibly talented moderator and interviewer. Mr. Kolker was such a well spoken author - to hear the description of his process and detailed interviewing and data gathering was great, his book is a wonderful piece of non-fiction that both laypersons and health care professionals should read