For the first time I had an inkling, a taste, of what a family member might experience when a loved one becomes ill in this way. The clinical staff who treated Katherine were respectful and reasonably kind, but they saw her only as a very sick woman. I told them a bit about her past—who she had “been,” or at least how her life had been shaped years ago. “Oh yeah,” they'd reply, in a tone of distant amusement.“She told us that she was once a great singer, who worked with lots of famous people.” They might or might not have believed Katherine, but the past seemed almost irrelevant to her current situation. Now she refused to have contact with her family, refused to take medication, and refused to believe that she might benefit from professional help.