Everything There Is To Know About Schizophrenia-Inflicted Galvin Family & Their Members Now

The courage of the Galvin family in sharing their traumatic story has brought schizophrenia into the spotlight and propelled research into its genetic underpinnings

Key Takeaways

  • The Galvin parents, Don and Mimi Galvin, had 12 children – ten boys and two daughters.
  • The lack of understanding about schizophrenia compounded the family’s struggles at the time.
  • Today, only two of the schizophrenia-affected brothers remain – Donald and Matthew.

For the Galvin family of Colorado Springs, what seemed like a typical suburban life was flipped over by an incredible burden – six of their ten sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Their harrowing story, depicted in the bestselling book “Hidden Valley Road” by Robert Kolker, has shed light on the genetic components and devastating impacts of this misunderstood mental illness.

The Galvin parents, Don and Mimi Galvin, had 12 children – ten boys followed by two daughters.

Their oldest, Donald, was the first to exhibit disturbing symptoms in the 1960s while at college.

He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia after a failed attempt to murder his wife.

His younger brothers – Matthew, Peter, Joseph, Jim, and Brian – would follow in his footsteps, one by one descending into the grips of the same cruel disease.

The family’s struggles were compounded by the lack of understanding about schizophrenia at the time.

Prevalent theories incorrectly blamed poor parenting, particularly “schizophrenogenic mothers,” for the condition.

Mimi was devastated as her sons were repeatedly admitted to state hospitals and psychiatric facilities, subjected to now controversial treatments like shock therapy and potent medications.

Desperate for answers, the Galvins agreed to genetic studies in the 1980s by Dr. Lynn DeLisi, who made a groundbreaking discovery – the family’s DNA showed clear links between genetics and schizophrenia.

This challenged the dominant view and opened new avenues for research.

Tragically, three of the six affected Galvin brothers – Brian, Jim, and Joseph – passed away prematurely, with two deaths being directly related to the very medications meant to treat their illnesses.

The devastating toll included Brian murdering his wife before killing himself.

The Galvin brothers and sisters pictured together in March 2022 – Matthew, Richard, Mark, Donald, Peter, John, and Michael from left to right (Source: galvinfamilytrust.org)

Today, only two of the schizophrenia-affected brothers remain – Donald and Matthew.

According to the family website, Donald resides quietly in Colorado Springs, enjoying simple pleasures like car rides, ballet performances, and his favorite McDonald’s meals.

Matthew, once a promising artist, transitioned to a skilled nursing facility in 2020 after stints of hospitalization and independent living.

While their parents, Don and Mimi, have passed away, the two surviving Galvin daughters, Margaret Galvin Johnson and Lindsay (née Mary) Galvin Rauch, remain advocates for their brothers and work to remove the stigma around mental illness.

They have supported the establishment of the Galvin Family Trust to provide higher-quality care for Donald and Matthew.

The courage of the Galvin family in sharing their traumatic story has brought schizophrenia into the spotlight and propelled research into its genetic underpinnings.

In Case You Didn’t Know

  • Out of 10 sons, Richard, Mark, Michael, and John didn’t have schizophrenia.
  • Margaret and Lindsay, who are now in their 50s, were sexually abused by their brother Jim when they were toddlers.
  • The Galvin family’s head, Don Galvin, passed away in 2003, while Mimi passed away in 2017.
  1. Fascinating. Interestingly, an in-law of mine was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. What is unusual is that there is no family history of this disease, its a female, and she is 50 years-old.

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