Gail Hornstein, Professor of Psychology at Mount Holyoake College and sometime visitor to the Archives & Museum, makes passing reference to our modest displays (though not to her visit) in her recent book Agnes’ Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness. She is also the author of To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World, a biography of the psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. Fromm-Reichmann is most well-known today for being the real-life “Dr Fried” in Joanne Greenberg’s fictionalised autobiography, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, about which we have previously blogged. A Jewish psychoanalyst, who emigrated to America in the 1930s, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann controversially – but apparently, at least in some cases, successfully – treated schizophrenia with psychotherapy (and not medication).
Dr Hornstein has recently made the latest edition of her bibliography of ‘first person narratives of madness’ available on her website. We think we have spotted at least one unchecked (and uncheckable!) reference in this bibliography. Alas, as far as we know the existence of a 1620 Petition of the Poor Distracted Folk of Bedlam is no more than a rumour. Naturally, we would be delighted to be proved wrong about this! The bibliography is nevertheless an extremely valuable resource for those interested in first person narratives of mental distress.
Moving from first to third person narratives, we are glad to say that a short e-book entitled Illustrious Company: Authors, Artists and Other Adventurers in Bethlem Hospital is now available for download onto Kindle e-readers at Amazon and Amazon UK. It has been written by our Archivist with contributions from Canadian authors Aislinn Hunter and Lesley Krueger. Regular readers of this blog may recognise some but not all of its text. The book is already cheap to download, but watch out for special promotions to make it even cheaper over the summer.