It’s time to prepare for the summer reads list and Girls and Their Monsters: The Genain Quadruplets and the Making of Madness in America needs to be on it.
“One by one they’d come into the world, and in the very same order, they lost touch with it.”
These are the Morlok identical quadruplets, born in 1930. This is a non-fiction account of their lives—that were “real, but not quite.” The story opens in 1954, with Dr. Seymour Perlin from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) visiting the now grown sisters at their home in Lansing, Michigan. What brings him there? All four sisters are diagnosed with schizophrenia and he and his collogues see the opportunity—about one and one and a half billion chance for births of identical quadruplets all diagnosed with schizophrenia—to study this mental condition and whether its causes are genetic or due to social and familial factors.
Author Audrey Clare Farley takes us on a journey, revealing so much more behind mental illness, family dysfunction, and trauma. It’s a web that she carefully navigates and turns into a page-turner witness to the testimony not only of these sisters and their mother, but of our disordered society—even now. The Morlok sisters’ lifetime was not that long ago, enabling Farley to develop a relationship with and interview the youngest daughter, Sarah. But in reading we question how far we’ve really come, and who are our monsters?Continue reading