Silent Voices: People with Mental Disorders
on the Street by Robert L. Okin, MD

We avert our eyes when we meet them on the street: homeless mentally ill people with their hand-scrawled signs, shopping carts, and cardboard boxes. Because of the fear and revulsion they arouse in us, or the guilty relief we feel at our own relative good fortune, we fail to see—no, insistently deny—any human connection with them.

Still, we’re curious: How do these people end up on the street and how do they survive the stress and privations of such a life? How do they brace themselves against the elements day after day? How do they cope with their frightening symptoms, their drug addictions, the paradoxical mix of extreme danger and mind-numbing boredom that characterizes their existence? What combination of biological vulnerabilities, traumatic childhoods, drugs, mental disorders, and financial devastation brought them down? And how do some manage, against all odds, to climb out of this desperate situation?

Silent Voices has won the prestigious 2015 Outstanding Book of the Year award from the Independent Publisher. It was praised by the judges for giving a voice to homeless people with mental disabilities and conveying their fundamental humanity through photographs and first person narratives.

Second edition