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Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital Paperback – January 7, 2003
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Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed the first half or so of the book, but by the time he starting in on the patients of the 60's I became a little angry. I'm a psych nurse myself and I've worked in a large state hospital and a private hospital. I have seen mental illnesses of all intensities and varities displayed. The author suggests that the patients of the 60's were just spoiled little babies whose over-conservative parents didnt understand. Well- I wish he would have actually read a book on borderline personality disorder or at least tried to meet some people who have it before he made light of the illness itself. Is it a very well understood disorder? No. Is it easy to treat/cure? No. Is it real- oh yes. Based on the behaviors described by the author, its evident that so many of the patients he dismisses actually do have it. Did he read Girl Interrupted? Has he even looked at the DSM-IV? Did he try to spend any time on a functioning pysch ward anywhere?
I think the other chapters dealing more with schizophrenics and bipolar patients would have been enhanced had the author developed an understanding of the disorders as well. I mean- its amusing to read about the bizarre behaviors of the wealthy elite's crazy folks- but in the end you are dealing with people whose brains dont work- what a sad sad fate for anyone.
The real story of this hospital is of course the same sad story of all mental hospitals today- underfunded and ignored. Mental illness is alive and well- look at our prisons, homeless population and drug addicts. I'm not one to stand on a soap box but the more places like this that close- the more disturbed, dangerous and lost people there will be out in the world. Its a sad and scary thought.
illness had been treated by such methods as lowering the patient into a
dungeon filled with snakes, pelting him with vigorous spouts of cold water,
inducing vomiting, draining great quantities of blood, spinning him on a
rotating board, dosing him with opium and hashish, and soaking him in a warm,
electrified bath. Founded at the dawn of the Freudian age, McLean offered
something revolutionary: fresh-baked rolls and art lessons, therapy by
landscaping. Alex Beam gives us a fascinating tour of the next century in
what one doctor bemoaned as the "medical playground" of psychiatry. On the
manicured campus in Belmont, doctors adopted and then rejected lobotomy,
adopted and rejected Freudian analysis, and were finally drawn with all their
profession in the direction of psychopharmacology. Anne Sexton taught poetry
there before her own suicide, and Sylvia Plath and Susanna Kaysen emerged
with syllabus-ready memoirs, and one patient of Freud's greeted doctors every
morning by saying "I am my father's penis." Beam is a skeptical inquirer, and
his book may ruffle the feathers of local psychiatrists. (Has ruffled.) But for ordinary readers, he does what few writers
have done -- tell with humor and intelligence the story of doctors and
patients groping through their suffering and toward some kind of answer.
Beam does not spend much time on the early history of the hospital. In 1895 it moved to its grand grounds in the woodsy Boston suburbs and it became home to "an improved class of sufferers." It housed a rather amazing cast of characters, and perhaps in tune with the upbeat and upscale McLean atmosphere, they are presented as amusing eccentrics. Beam does not emphasize the pain of their conditions, but he does show the futility of treatment (insulin shock, hydrotherapy, talk therapies, electroshock) for most of them. As pharmaceutical therapies and then managed-care became the way to treat psychiatric patients, McLean lagged behind. Many of the patients stayed on and on, getting expensive care paid in a lump initial sum by families who never wanted to see them again.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this for an AP Psych Abnormal Psych project and was quite disappointed, it just wasn't what I was suspecting of it.Published 3 months ago by Jonellag
As one who is very interested in mental illness I was drawn to this book's title. The peaceful quiet way that the mentally ill were taken care of in the early days. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Southern Bella
Very interesting, but it did not help for the research I am doing.Published 6 months ago by Jason Medina
Excellent account of the history of how we treat mental illness. Anyone who works in the Mental Health Field should read this.Published 7 months ago by sheila rlyaln