Colorado Woman On Having Six Brothers Diagnosed With Schizophrenia: 'It's Like Death Over And Over Again'

In his new book, Hidden Valley Road, Robert Kolker reveals how a family was devastated by the debilitating disease—and became invaluable to scientific research

Lindsay Galvin Rauch was four years old the night she first realized something was wrong with her older brother Donald.

She'd been asleep for hours at the family home in Colorado Springs when Donald — the oldest of Don and Mimi Galvin's 12 children — began frantically pounding on his parent's bedroom door.

"He was convinced somebody was outside, trying to hurt us," recalls Lindsay in this week's PEOPLE Magazine. "So he was yelling for everyone to get down because they were trying to shoot us."

Lindsay didn't know at the time that Donald was fighting a losing battle with schizophrenia. And in the years that followed, this mysterious mental disorder would end up exacting a terrifying toll on the Galvins as one brother after another fell victim to it.

Hidden Valley Road

"We were this beautiful family, living the dream — athletic, intelligent, into nature, the symphony and opera," says Lindsay, now 54. "One brother became ill, then the next and the next. It was like a snowball. And it was just tragic, so tragic."

Yet, remarkably, the gut-wrenching odyssey of the Galvins — described by one researcher as "the most mentally-ill family" in the nation — is also one of triumph.

Because not only did this crippling mental illness fail to drive the family apart, but the Galvins, one of the first families studied by the National Institute of Mental health, helped scientists understand the disorder better.

"By analyzing the family's genetic makeup, researchers are on the cusp of making significant advances in treatment, prediction, and even prevention," author Robert Kolker said. He meticulously chronicles Galvin's story in the new book Hidden Valley Road with the help of the nine living family members.

For the full story about the Galvin family, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.

4/14/2020 cover of people magazine featuring BIndi Irwin and Chandler Powell wedding
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mary galvin
Lindsay Galvin. Doubleday

Nearly 3.2 million Americans have schizophrenia, believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, environment and brain chemistry, resulting in delusions, hallucinations and extremely disordered thinking and behavior.

"It's like having somebody die over and over again," says Lindsay, a corporate events planner living in Teluride, Colo.

"Because they're not always ill. But when they are, it's like a death over and over again . . . They (her six brothers) had dreams of having families of their own, of careers and of love, but all that was stolen from them."

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