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Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness [Paperback]

Mary Barnes , Joseph Berke
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

31 Mar 2002
For thirty years Mary Barnes was a schizophrenic. This is the story of her resurrection.

In 1966, Mary Barnes was a hopeless schizophrenic, and Joseph Berke was a young doctor rebelling against the restrictions of American psychiatry. This is the story of Barnes's resurrection, Berke's devotion, and the remarkable friendship that blossomed between them. With love and courage, they recount a tale of mutual dedication to healing without the use of psychoactive medication, chronicling how Barnes emerges from the turmoil of madness as a renowned painter. Her artistic development is beautifully illustrated in this volume as a visual analogy for the revolutionary psychic work in which she and Berke were engaged.

Told by Barnes and Berke together, the story overflows with poignancy, insight, and sensitivity. The power of this dual-voiced narrative becomes clear as the story progresses: from Barnes, we hear reflections on the subjective experience of madness and on the often arduous process of healing. From Berke, we see Barnes from the vantage point of a dedicated clinician—the voice who, when Barnes risked becoming engulfed by her feelings of disorientation, would say "Squeeze out your badness into me." The richness afforded by this double perspective is what makes Mary Barnes's story as compelling and enthralling as it is.

Now back in print with the addition of new epilogues by both Barnes and Berke, this edition is truly complete.

"Fragmentary, onrushing, claustrophobic...A travelogue through a psychic Walpurgis Night [that] combines a personal drama of redemption from 'madness' with a profound, revolutionary statement on how a free community of souls can interact for the good of its individuals."
-Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

Product details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press LLC; New edition edition (31 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159051016X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590510162
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 16.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 851,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational 7 May 2002
I read this book about 10 years ago, and I have never forgotten it. This review is written from that memory, an indication of the impact it had on me. It is an amazing true story about Mary Barnes, a middle aged woman who gradually sinks deeper and deeper into her own madness, and how, with the commitment and friendship of one psychiatrist in particular, she is gradually regressed back to her childhood to revisit her demons, and learn to 'grow' again. This book is written from the perspective of both parties, and is not only a unique insight into mental illenss, but also shows how the road to recovery must be a journey shared, and that sometimes the smallest step really is a leap forward.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars between pills and people 10 Oct 2012
By Moraru Silviu - Published on
Some say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Here the path to insanity is paved with a will to make children but a lack of milk for them and then they are fed with good food "spiked" with nightmares and conditioned that someone's company is determined by withholding physiological functions or impulses to the extreme...In a way the idea is "there is no mother for naughty children".

Reading the book I ended up surprised that the father or another man can be more caring than a woman...It looks like the path to sanity is starting with taking care of the body however nasty it can be at the beginning and it means getting your hands dirty if the outcome has to be some creative brilliance. According to a myth goddess Athena was born from Jupiter's head. Here Mary's sanity was born due to some men who had patience with her. In a way the book confirms what Melanie Klein describes in her writings about disturbed children where the mother is always stuck in a kind of "making babies" mode but what happens with them afterwards is a kind of "devil may care".

Throughout this story someone can realize that the "chemistry" between people involves acceptance of the person as a whole with all their needs and greeds if they got stuck in some kind of deprivation. Some may wonder how long a journey to sanity can take. To be driven mad it takes a whole childhood so whoever is prepared to bring the childhood back the outcome can be a human person nearby.
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