Gracefully Insane The Rise And Fall Of America's Premier Mental Hospital

Front Cover
PublicAffairs, Dec 26, 2001 - History - 273 pages
3 Reviews
Its carefully landscaped grounds, chosen by Frederick Law Olmsted and dotted with four-and-five-story Tudor mansions, could belong to a prosperous New England prep school. There are no fences, no guards, no locked gates. But McLean Hospital is a mental institution - one of the most famous, most elite, and once most luxurious in America. McLean "alumni" include many of the troubled geniuses of our age - Olmsted himself, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, James Taylor and Ray Charles - as well as (more secretly) other notables from among the rich and famous. In its "golden age," McLean provided as gracious and gentle an enviroment for the treatment of mental illness as one could imagine. "If the patient did not like the lamb we served for dinner and asked for lobster, we gave lobster," one steward recalled. "They could afford it. Appleton House [the men's ward] was like the Ritz Carlton." But the golden age is over, and a downsized, downscale McLean is struggling to find its place in today's brave new world of psychopharmacologically-oriented mental health care.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - steadfastreader - LibraryThing

Tedious. This book would be better described as the history of an elite mental health institution, the likes of which most of us will never see. Indeed, at the end the only remnant left of 'the old ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TFS93 - LibraryThing

I was expecting to find out more about the patients and what they had to endure, I didn't find it here. There were brief mentions of a few that stayed here, but not enough to hold my interest. This ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

References to this book

All Book Search results »

Bibliographic information