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Fountain House Symposium Honors Author Andrew Solomon


by Jim Luce

New York City has an annual event that educates the public on mental health that I believe is the finest in America. This symposium — and luncheon — is hosted by Fountain House each spring at The Pierre. This year, the event’s tenth, the topic was Mental Illness and the Family: Relationships, Resilience, Recovery. The panelists were top-notch, and the thought-provoking remarks by the honoree, best-selling author Andrew Solomon, enthralled the nearly 600 guests. The event raised more than one million dollars to support Fountain House’s innovative mental health recovery programs.

…In accepting the Fountain House Humanitarian Award, Andrew Solomon spoke of “vertical identities” passed down through the generations in contrast to “horizontal identities” acquired through peer groups, and he noted the unity that stigmatized people often find among those with similar challenges. For his latest book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, Andrew interviewed a host of families coping with autism, deafness, Down syndrome, schizophrenia, transgender issues, and more. He recounted the acceptance and love he witnessed among many of these families as they navigated this rugged terrain, and his observation that “parenting is no sport for perfectionists” rang true; even “normal” families must negotiate differences. Perhaps it is “difference” that unites us all.

(To read the full report, please visit the Huffington Post.)