These were decades of turbulence for Virgil, marked, as the title suggests, by a paralyzing silence in his family. Despite the florid nature of Virgil’s disorder, he and his wife took great pains to keep hidden from their children the knowledge of their father’s affliction. During periods of hospitalization, their father was mysteriously "away" from the home, with little in the way of explanation provided. Instead, the children were told simply that their father was not well, and that he was getting better in California. Stephen Hinshaw writes, "When he returned, nothing was said, and I somehow knew not to ask" (p. 63). The family’s silence was officially sanctioned. "Silence was reinforced by professional advice: ‘Do not tell your children about your condition,’ doctors told my father, ‘because they cannot comprehend mental illness’ "(p. 63). Tragically, by these details alone, the text reveals the legacy of social stigma, secrecy, and shame surrounding mental disorder, even as it is culturally transmitted to a young child about his father.