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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and brave book
The author, Barbara Taylor, spent 8 months in what was called Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum (which later had a name change to Friern Hospital).

This is the amazingly well told, brave and interesting story of Barbara Taylor. The story of a woman who is a historian, and a published academic, She progressively became unwell and what started out as anxiety morphed...
Published 9 months ago by SM

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disatisfied and deceived
I found the well-meaning title deceiving. There is nothing historical about this bio, neither is there enough reference to her own 'madness' to deserve the bio term. It seems a hodge-podge of biography/fiction/historical non-fiction and uninteresting quotations. As a psychological therapist, I was also not sure she was 'mad' at all, just suffering perhaps a manic episode...
Published 2 months ago by LizzyHurst82


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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and brave book, 14 Feb 2014
By 
SM (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
The author, Barbara Taylor, spent 8 months in what was called Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum (which later had a name change to Friern Hospital).

This is the amazingly well told, brave and interesting story of Barbara Taylor. The story of a woman who is a historian, and a published academic, She progressively became unwell and what started out as anxiety morphed into complete breakdown. She had a couple of decades of treatment which included psychoanalysis and her stay in what was called at that time, the Asylum. Her story makes the reader really feel for her. She goes to show that anyone can suffer from mental health problems from whatever background.

Behind her story is a solid history of mental health and the mental health care system. She integrates her own treatment into this history and puts it into context.

The really incredible part of this book is the honesty with which she talks of her story. It is told with such honesty and as a reader I felt touched and honoured to be able to read her account. In places, the book made me feel emotional. There are not many books about that do this to me.

Thank you Barbara Taylor for writing this book.

Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an exceptional book., 2 Mar 2014
By 
Ms. E. A. Sayers "Elizabeth" (Windsor UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in our Times (Kindle Edition)
This is an exceptional book. Barbara Taylor experienced a long period when she needed help with her mental condition. She describes very movingly her relationship with her long-suffering therapist, and her experience of being in the asylum- her nuthouse and in various levels of care.
She also gives us the history of the way mental health patients have been treated over a long period. And finally the impact of current policies. Highly recommended.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Investigation of care and the failure of care of mental illness in Britiain in the '80s, 19 Feb 2014
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After reading Jenny Diski's review in the LBR and for reasons of my own I was interested to read this book and was not disappointed. Compelling because although harrowing to read it is beautifully written, It is about Barbara Taylor's own hellish journey through extreme mental illness (she calls them her madness years), her psychotherapy,and her years as a mental patient at Friern, but it is also a historical meditation on mental illness and mental health care in Britain in that period.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book, 6 May 2014
By 
Ellen Ross (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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The author is both honest about her personal story and thoughtful in discussing the history of mental asylums in Britain and of the decline in services for mentally ill people today. I couldn't put it down! The accounts of the psychoanalytic sessions were fascinating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skilful and engaging account of mental illness, treatment and psychoanalysis, 1 Jun 2014
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in mental health Not always an easy read, it's a brave and powerful account of one woman's journey through the mental health system and through psychoanalysis, also tracing the history of psychiatric treatment in this country. This encompasses the closure of the old asylums and move to community care, recent issues including severe bed shortages, the rise of Community Treatment Orders and lack of continuity of care. The author, a historian at Queen Mary College, University of London, has organised various events to help publicise this book, including a panel discussion featuring professionals and service users. Sadly, a good number of them, besides members of the audience at the one I attended, concluded that things are now worse rather than better, partly as a result of what was described as quick fix/box ticking culture in the NHS.
Let's hope two things happen: the post Francis Inquiry work NHS trusts have to do to change their cultures has tangible results and the promised 'parity of esteem' (allocation of equal resources to mental as physical health) will be delivered by NHS England and the Government.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest insight, 22 April 2014
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A much needed insight into a breakdown and a journey through the experience and the help that was available - both statutory and in the private sector.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in our Times (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is well written and the author describes her experiences of psychiatric hospital with clarity and some wit. I particularly enjoyed reading about her experience of psychoanalysis. Her opinions and thoughts on the demise of institutional care and its replacement with "community care" are thought provoking. I worked in mental health services for many years and was part of a team responsible for the closure of a large psychiatric hospital and was very interested in reading about a "patient/client/service users" experience of this process. I also have experience as a "service user" myself and found this book very helpful personally. I thank the author for a great reading experience..
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The necessity for asylum, 21 Feb 2014
By 
Sandford "Sandy" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This book has really struck a chord with me. It resonates with my life experience from 3 angles. I trained as a psychiatric nurse in the 80's during the time of the author's experience. I also have training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy which, as well as professional study, demanded my own "lying on the couch" twice per week over several years to try and suss out my own demons, as has the author but in a way that only good writing can portray.
This book therefore pulled out many memories for me, and the writing sings. I feel it has been written beautifully, and with my own history, it will stay with me. I have just also finished listening to the final episode from Radio 4's adaptation for Book of the Week. As well as being engaged with the reading of it by Maggie Steed, there is the added dimension of today's politics that I feel enraged by. Whatever politicians say, mental health services are being decimated whole scale. I know, because I have witnessed the whole sorry episode from that point of readily accessible asylum, to the very poor community and inpatient services of today. Needless to say, my disillusionment fits in wholeheartedly with the author's conclusions.

I thoroughly recommend this book, and a must read for anyone presently in the mental health services who may have a jaundiced and cynical eye as to the function of the Victorian Asylums, which are now all destroyed. In other words, don't be seduced by modern day political diktat as to what is the best service for those of us who will inevitably have mental health problems.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I think this book is a really great addition to mad history (which is the history of ..., 4 Oct 2014
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I think this book is a really great addition to mad history (which is the history of psychiatry as experienced by its patients) and if you're interested in that you should definitely read it. A large chunk of it is memoir, but that is well-written and interesting and as the author is a historian, she often tangentially references relevant and surprising historical facts. Some of it was quite hard to read, especially some of her violent dreams and the stories of her fellow patients, and I thought her views on psychoanalysis were probably biased, but overall I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars this book gives us insight into what causes people to ..., 8 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in our Times (Kindle Edition)
this book gives us insight into what causes people to break down and how childhood traumas, not necessarily obvious to the outside world, pushes children to develop unhealthy coping strategies which affects them later in life. It shows the positive and the negative side of psychoanalysis and how it can trap people for years on end, and, in my opinion, slow down recovery. Finally this book tells us a lot about how the British mental health service works and about its modern day limitations
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