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Asylum: A Mid-Century Madhouse and Its Lessons about Our Mentally Ill Today Hardcover – July 30, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0275997045 ISBN-10: 0275997049 Edition: 1st

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Asylum: A Mid-Century Madhouse and Its Lessons about Our Mentally Ill Today + Theaters of Madness: Insane Asylums and Nineteenth-Century American Culture + Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
Price for all three: $99.79

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; 1 edition (July 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275997049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275997045
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,126,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Callaway looks back at those early years of training with fondness, humor, and wisdom. He asks the reader to pull up a chair, sit down, and listen to his recollections about the psychiatry of 60 years ago, see how it has evolved, and note his concerns about psychiatry today. His is a genial, generous memoir, amply illustrated with instructive anecdotes of patients and professionals who visited the hospital….As a memoir, it charmingly has much to teach the student and professional."



"Enoch Callaway has written an entertaining, idiosyncratic story of Worcester State Hospital….This is a personal history, and an opinionated one, giving it an almost conversational tone. He largely shuns jargon, and writes clearly and with humor."


Metapsychology Online

"This book is a great read, and not only for mental health professionals. It also has relevance for lawyers, lawmakers, civil planners, and administrators….Asylum: A Mid-Century Madhouse and Its Lessons About Our Mentally Ill Today consists mostly of Dr. Callaway's vivid memoirs: a more or less sequential cornucopia of many vignettes in short chapters only 2 or 3 pages long that are funny, poignant, intensley personal, and sometimes quite sharp-edged but never frivolous or lacking in common-sense perspective."


Journal of the American Medical Association

". . . frank, witty, and humane. . . . valuable in vividly revealing the personal experiences of a resident in psychiatry and the state of institutional psychiatry in mid-twentieth century America."


Lamar Soutter Library


"Dr. Enoch (Noch) Callaway is one of the most eminent figures in the biological psychiatry revolution of the 20th (and now 21st) century. Asylum offers much wisdom, warmth and insight. This book is a true treasure and an insightful prism through which a bygone era is carefully examined, and a future of compassion and evidence-based psychiatric medicine is foretold. It is most fitting that Noch Callaway is our narrator on a fantastic and thought provoking journey. Perhaps no other psychiatrist of the past 50 years has combined Noch's penetrating intellect, humanism, warmth and disarming candor in applying lessons learned and lessons taught. Generations of academic psychiatrists passed through Noch's laboratory and all have benefited from lessons he learned in the asylum: lessons of the value of compassion combined with personal and intellectual insight." (David L. Braff, M.D. Professor, University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By L. Osborn on August 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I noticed there are no posts on this book yet. So I thought I would add something quick about the book for other perspective buyers. I am half way through the book at the moment, so I can only comment on the 1st half, but I will comment on the 2nd when I have finished it.

The book paints a vivid and brilliant image of working in a state hospital (the 1st) in the 50's-60's. Dr. Calloway writes with a plethora of knowledge and experience. His book is written as series of short anecdotes about various topics, such as treatments, hydrotherapy, ECT, insulin shock therapy, and the lobotomy. As well as, day to day life in the hospital, politics, therapy, and schizophrenia. Dr. Calloway shares some his triumphs with working with patients and some of his failures. With each antidote/chapter the reader is further drawn into the world of Worcester State hospital in the 50's.

Dr. Calloway gives a sometimes unseen picture of a state hospital that while with its clear limitations did the best they could with what they had. Dr. Calloway shares the compassions of staff and the sadism that sometimes occurred. He further portrays Worcester as a hospital that was focused not only on care and treatment, but also on research, giving much research to psychiatry and psychology, as well as caring for and treating patients. Dr. Calloway gives the reader the sense of a hospital that was a living entity, from patients, to staff to the public. "We were all inmates at Worcester."

The book is not for the picture seeking reader; however Dr. Calloway writes in a way that the ready does not need pictures to understand his story. This book is for a reader interested in learning what it was like to be a young resident in America's first state hospital, during a time when there were no psychotropic medications, but only dedication and compassion to fight the terrors and sadness of mental illness.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Taylor W. Raab on March 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What this book lacks in photos it sure makes up in vivid descriptions of life as a Dr. in a state hospital in the 1940's, a bygone era where Dr.'s in state hospitals believed that they would in fact find a cure for most of the mental illnesses through careful study and pioneering treatments. This book is a must for anyone interested in the overall history in how we as a society have cared for those who we deemed mentally ill. More so this is a great introductory book for anyone interested in what went on inside the state hospitals they may have seen while growing up or later on when they were abandoned. Furthermore the Dr. ends the book by gathering all of his knowledge of the past and applying it to what he knows about the present day state of mental healthcare and offers some useful suggestion of how to deal with the problems of both. One last thing I liked about this book was that none of the chapters were over 4-5 pages in length, which made for quick and easy reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James Ketchum, MD on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a fellow psychiatrist (and not much younger) I found Dr. Callaway's excellent book transporting me back to the early days of my training. So many of the scenes and vignettes create vivid flashbacks to the days when there were few drugs for mental illness and no real science of psychopharmacology. Professor Callaway's uncanny memory serves him well.

Particularly enjoyable are the startling, frequently hilarious but often poignant, first-person stories, drawn from an era lost to almost everyone alive today. The vivid, even hair-raising, historic details he provides are softened by Dr. Callaway's clearly humanistic approaches to patient care. All this at a time when mental hospitals were more to be feared than cherished. Don't allow yourself to miss this provocative volume.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Adebowale Adebiyi on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written book by a respected Psychiatrist and Psychopharmacologist. Dr Callaway's depth and experience in Psychiatry is priceless. The book is easy to read and sprinkled with humor.
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