November 22, 1985

Reducing the Storm to a Whisper: The Story of a Breakdown

Author Affiliations

Eastern Virginia Medical School Norfolk


by Patrick J. Howell, 228 pp, $14.95, Chicago, Thomas More Press, 1985.

JAMA. 1985;254(20):2972. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360200126046

This autobiography of Father Howell's internal turmoil recounts the events of his psychotic episode in the summer of 1975 and his life over a ten-year period surrounding the breakdown from his last year in Rome before his ordination to the end of his Jesuit tertianship.

Father Howell has written a gripping, candid, and sensitive story of his breakdown. It is a rare and emotional experience for a reader to share in the depths of an author's fears, doubts, tensions, illusions, and then finally his healing process. Howell vividly describes the healing power of hope and faith and the therapeutic benefits of a healing relationship with his psychiatrist. He reveals that telling this story was part of his own healing process, and he has chosen to record these memories in a psychological rather than a strict chronological order. For the reader, it is an interesting blend of chronology, flashback, and past