Each of the stories in this portfolio explores themes of family and mental health. Each embodies practice research, an artistic response to the representational challenges arising from a focus on alienated individuals, who are nonetheless, and inevitably, in dialogue with their families and the places they sometimes call home. The stories are curated in a collection defined by this shared focus, the writing led by inquiries about character development and its apparent converse: breakdown. They directly and indirectly explore the rich vein of contrast, irony and tension between supposedly mad and sane characters, considering where the reader might figure in that tension. The writing explores suggestions such as those of R. D. Laing (1970) that the town, village, home and family are sources of madness, not the individual. Mary Barnes’ memoir (1971) informs some of the stories’ colours and representations. Stories of writers such as Raymond Carver and Janice Galloway, their tacit working-class idiom summoning a loud subtext, informs style in some narratives. Elsewhere, fuller voices, such as those of Dylan Thomas and Angela Carter, become informing stylistic and topographical reference points, as do factual journalism, folk tales and rural myths. Dysfunctionality is set as normal, the reader invited to see inside, to glimpse such life tracks. Paradoxical solitude is the centrepiece of each story: consciousness captive within a social setting. The range of narrative methods include montage, splicing, first and second person, free indirect discourse and sometimes more omniscient, more expansive and unreliable, voices. In this way the stories deploy various representational modes to answer the research question: how is it possible to render a narrative of alienated consciousness as coherent and rational, in a way that allows readers to forget prejudicial labels – psychiatric or handed down - so they can join the fuller imagining of an individual?