Women of the Asylum: Voices from Behind the Walls, 1840-1945

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Jeffrey L. Geller, Maxine Harris
Anchor Books, 1994 - Social Science - 349 pages
2 Reviews
Jeffrey Geller and Maxine Harris have amassed twenty-six first person accounts of women who were placed in mental institutions against their will, often by male family members for holding views or behaving in ways that deviated from the norms of their day. Taken as a whole, these pieces offer a fascinating and frightening portrait of life both behind and outside the asylum walls. Geller and Harris's accompanying history of both societal and psychiatric standards for women reveals that often even the prevailing conventions reinforced the perception that these women were "mad". Much has been written about the Victorian ideal of womanhood, the reform movements of the late nineteenth century, and the suffragettes of the early twentieth century, but still very little is known about those women who were pushed aside or hidden away. Women of the Asylum is the first book to give them the opportunity to speak for themselves.

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User Review  - amaraduende - LibraryThing

I feel good reading this for an interesting reason - these women often seem to have little hope in anything other than that someone, someday, would read their words and know what they endured. The ... Read full review

WOMEN OF THE ASYLUM: Voices From Behind the Walls, 1840-1945

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A hundred years of first-person reports from women committed to mental institutions that seem no less distressing in the 20th century than in the 19th. Geller (Psychiatry/Univ. of Massachusetts) and ... Read full review


Foreword by Phyllis Chester Ph D xiii
Firsthand Accounts
Firsthand Accounts

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About the author (1994)

A clinical psychologist and associate at Dartmouth College's Psychiatric Research Center, Maxine Harris is best-known for her groundbreaking book The Loss That is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father. Based on interviews with scores of people, and her own experience as a clinical psychologist, Harris provides readers with a basis for understanding the impact the early loss of a parent has on adult development. Some of Harris's other works include Women in the Asylum, a collection of first-person accounts by women who were in insane asylums; Sexual Abuse in the Lives of Women Diagnosed with Serious Mental Illness, which includes sections on assessment, treatment and policy; and Trauma Recovery and Empowerment, a clinical guide for working with women in groups. Besides writing books, Harris was also on the editorial board of the journal Violence Against Women. Published monthly by SAGE Publications, the journal is available on the Internet as well as through the mail. As co-director for Community Connections Mental Health Agency in Washington, D.C., Harris worked with homeless clients.

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