The Outsider (Broadway Books/Random House) is the story of my late father's struggles with schizophrenia and homelessness. My goals in writing The Outsider were to honor my father's memory and life, and to show the heroism inherent in the homeless mentally ills' struggle to survive on the street. More than anything else, I wanted to change the way our society looks at people with schizophrenia. The Outsider is less a memoir than a biography of a certain trajectory of life; one that is too often misunderstood and ignored. I want to say thank you to all the readers who have written letters and emails to me over the years to express what The Outsider has meant to them. I also want to thank the hundreds of people who generously agreed to be interviewed about what they remembered about my father, especially those who knew him only as a transient on Church Street. No matter what else I write in my career, The Outsider will always be one of the books that means the most to me. It was a book that needed to be written, and that needs to be read.
The Outsider is the recipient of the Kenneth Johnson Memorial Research Library Book Award and is the winner of the Bell of Hope Award, presented annually by the Mental Health Association of Philadelphia to honor “significant and far-reaching contributions benefiting those facing the challenge of mental illness.” The Outsider is required reading in psychology and sociology classes at universities around the country. The Outsider has been translated into Chinese and Swedish, and has been published in five countries. The Outsider is available at bookstores, and can be ordered online:
The Outsider is also available as an ebook.
"Extraordinary…. A rare gift: a memoir that helps enlighten readers that homeless, mentally ill people have lives beyond what we might ever hope to see."
"A heartrending portrait."
"A powerful memoir."
"In a style reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, [Lachenmeyer] wonderfully evokes the pathetic beauty of his father’s attempts to retain his dignity as he struggled with inner torments and the indifference of others. Highly recommended."
“Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, estranged from his [schizophrenic] father Charles since early adolescence, engaged in detective work and countless personal interviews to trace his father’s history. Many points in this history are heart wrenching, especially the great divide between a father and son who loved each other. Nathaniel forges a last link with his father [through] this extraordinary book, one of the best about schizophrenia to have come out in recent years.”
--National Institute of Mental Health's Advocate
"Part detective story, part therapeutic memoir, The Outsider combines the
dispassionate tone of a good reporter with the clear-eyed compassion for the
father he lost."
--The Globe and Mail
"A gripping and unusual story. It throws into sharp relief the suffering inflicted on a brilliant and gentle man by mental illness. Written with understanding, compassion and love, this is an extraordinarily moving book that has made a deep impression on me. It should be compulsory reading for high school students as well as the adult population."
"The Outsider is a truly wonderful book--a haunting, poignant story of a son's life with, and without, his father. In a mature and fascinating rendering, Lachenmeyer describes the gradual, bewildering, and relentless transformation of his father from a brilliant sociology professor to a frightening victim of paranoid schizophrenia and alcoholism. Lachenmeyer presents a rare and moving portrait of one of life's major struggles--the devastation created by severe mental illness."
--John M. Oldham, M.D., former Director, New York State Psychiatric Institute
Copyright 2016 Nathaniel Lachenmeyer. All rights reserved.