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Auto/Biogs dealing with mental illness or madness in old money

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Showing 1-25 of 63 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Sep 2010, 04:18:05 BST
I, with trepedation, introduce a new thread - but am taking a deep breath...
Has anyone read a good book dealing with mental illness. I have read the obvious candidates Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf etc and some of the modern crop - Alistair Campbell & Marcus Trescothick.

I know that it appears in a lot of the misery memoir stuff but it usually is bound up with either child abuse or addictions. Which mental illness often is but certainly not exclusively...

I have read some bad ones but wondered if anybody had any ideas? Even if it is not a major part of the subject's reputation, life etc I would be interested.

Preferably not religious or self helpy....

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2010, 07:00:12 BST
Furny says:
A book which caused much discussion when it first came out is
My Bonny- By John Suchet (Newsreader).

Posted on 17 Sep 2010, 17:04:44 BST
M. Dowden says:
I like the Belljar which you have mentioned, and also Girl, Interrupted, which has also been made into a good movie. There is a book called Electro-Shock Boy (I think that is the title), about a person's experiences of elctro-shock therapy (something I totally disagree with) and how it became addictive.

Posted on 18 Sep 2010, 15:52:41 BST
If you try the 'Madness and Literature' website you will find plenty of recommendations on all aspects of mental health, including biographies...

Posted on 18 Sep 2010, 18:41:51 BST
Jenny Holden says:
HI. 2 very good books spring to mind..............Shoot the damn dog by Sally Brampton, a very insightful autobiography of a woman coping with depression and breakdown. My favourite book on depression has to be by Gwyneth Lewis, "Sunbathing in the rain" , again a very personal account but also uplifting. She has also written some great poetry books

Posted on 19 Sep 2010, 00:00:22 BST
An excellent account of mental illness and what it was to stay in a mental hopsital in the 1980's can be found in 'Sectioned' by John O'Donoghue (I think it was published by John Murray). I found it fascianting and without self-pity or any 'woe is me' stuff, not a misery memoir. Even a little humour in the mix.

Posted on 20 Sep 2010, 13:47:03 BST
Thanks all for suggestions.. I obviously have a huges range of possibles from the website (amongst others) that you suggest Dr L Baldwin but having some feedback from general readers (if there is such a thing) is always useful. So thank you.

I agree that ECT can seem cruel, horrifying etc, M Dowden. I always remember some of the scenes in Regeneration. It has historically been applied appallingly. Some people are shocked it still happens- however, I have seen some amazing results for people that were not reacting to other methods.

Posted on 20 Sep 2010, 20:21:49 BST
monica says:
There are quite a few readable 1st-hand accounts of mental illnesss. An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, about the author's manic-depression, is especially interesting because Jamison is a shrink. Perceval's Narrative, ed. by Bateson, is even more interesting: It's the account of a schizophrenic dating fr. beginning of 19th century in which Perceval himself attributes his illness to family dynamics.

There's a rather famous instance (forgive me for being a bit fuzzy on details) of a hospital acquiring ECT equipment, using it for some time, enjoying amazing results from the treatments and then discovering the machine had never been functioning. . .

Posted on 20 Sep 2010, 20:27:24 BST
monica says:
Just remembered 2nd part of thread's title. Madness of King George, maybe? I don't think old money would much welcome accounts of insanity within the family. A good book about madness and new money though is Savage Grace, Aaronson (I think) and Robins.

Posted on 21 Sep 2010, 13:19:22 BST
Last edited by the author on 21 Sep 2010, 13:30:58 BST
I definitely recommend Stuart: A Life Backwards, which I think won the Samuel Johnson prize, which is written by a social worker who meets and befriends Stuart, a homeless man in Cambridge, suffering from bipolar disorder. The story of Stuart's fascinating life is unravelled in a quite unconventional and engrossing non-linear style.
The second I'd recommend is the staggering Full Blown, by David Lovelace. This is the incredible story of David, grows up with a whole family who suffer from manic depression. The story is moving and heartwrenching, but also often funny and downright bizaar. If you're interested in manic depression or bipolar disorder and want to find out more through readable, engrossing true stories, then I'm sure you'd enjoy these two.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Sep 2010, 00:34:46 BST
Elizabeth Speller- Sunlight on the Garden. No abuse, no misery-in fact much wit and perception and a fascinating story of creativity, class and C20 history- -but covers mental illness coming almost out of nowhere and in three generations in the author's attempt to understand and survive depressionThe Sunlight on the Garden: A Family in Love, War and Madness.

Posted on 29 Nov 2010, 12:53:44 GMT
Joey72 says:
I have just read Delivered Unto Lions which is about mental health in childhood, and based on the authors own childhood, as a child with depression admited to a childrens psychiatric unit, in the 1970s, having caring if what appears somewhat misled parents. I was looking to see if there were any similar books, not all about misery but about life with mental illness as this is rather a new genre for me I was searching the forums and am pleased to have found this thread, I am now planning to read some of your sugestions above. Thank you

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2010, 13:03:03 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 29 Nov 2010, 13:04:06 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2010, 23:33:02 GMT
I think a lot of damage was done to ECT by books and films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. My father who's a retired consultant psychiatrist tells of many instances where ECT was used succesfully as the last treatment option for very severe depression resistant to other medication. It has restored life back to many people. I'm not trying to minimize the suffering of those who were abused using this treatment. But it's the abusers and not the tool that are at fault and without ECT they would have no doubt found another means of inflicting suffering. ECT has done a great deal of good for so many people who would otherwise have lost hope (and who had lost hope) and its reputation in the media has clouded peoples understanding of its great benefits.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Nov 2010, 01:08:14 GMT
Kasper Utz says:
Try looking at - Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800

and Eyebrows and Other Fish both interesting reads with good reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2010, 16:32:01 GMT
Dear Bob,

You might be interested in my autobiography, "Surviving High Society" (Amazon, Kindle).

I was an adopted baby taken into a high society family in CT in 1941. After my adored adopted father died when I was 22, my mother made a deal with a local psych hospital involving $2 million dollars. The hospital then came up with a scam that could have killed me. I later found documented proof of this.

The book details the scam, my escape and subsequent marriage. I also relate personal stories about relationships with Kate Hepburn's family, Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lord Louis Mountbatten (uncle to Prince Philip).

Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland (Liz)

Posted on 27 Dec 2010, 14:35:03 GMT
Chris Thrall says:
Not a misery or a recovery memoir - quite the opposite! - but drug related, in my book I've tried to give a firsthand account of psychosis.

Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent Into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland

Available in the new year. Read exceprts at: www.christhrall.com

Feedback/questions appreciated

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Dec 2010, 17:31:43 GMT
Dear Bob Jack-Russell
Try " Will There Really Be a Morning" ...the autobiography of Francis Farmer, who died too young, a meteoric rise to fame and a spectacular crash to earth.
Will There Really Be a Morning
C B Newton

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Dec 2010, 17:42:43 GMT
T. Teeling says:
Speaking of Sadness by David A Karp and Darkness Visible by William Styron are the two most convincing portrayals of deep depression that chimed with my experience, the best help has been The Mindful Way through Depression by Williams, Teasdale, segal and Kabat-Zinn

Posted on 28 Dec 2010, 05:52:34 GMT
Tara Maya says:
It's not really about mental illness, but Early Onset Alzheimer's, but Jan's Story: Love Lost to the Long Goodbye of Alzheimer's is a real tear-jerker.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction

Posted on 28 Dec 2010, 12:13:58 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Dec 2010, 12:19:19 GMT
May I suggest you read my book, 'Unsettling'. It is my own account of a lifetime of living with bipolar disorder and the many ordeals it created for me along the way. I am told by those that have read it that it is a totally unique book. More info here www.baythemoon.com

Posted on 3 Jan 2011, 22:19:45 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 29 Jan 2012, 08:01:28 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jan 2011, 02:31:53 GMT
You must try "Disruptive" by Angela Bayley. Its a gripping read and takes you through all the possible mental health issues the writer sufferes with signs and symptoms and also recovery. Read the write up and the reviews and see if is for you. Readers report to read the book in one sitting. Good luck and let me know how you get on.Disruptive: How I Triumphed Over Years of Abuse from Those Who Were Supposed to Protect Me

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jan 2011, 11:35:06 GMT
Hi, Diamonds in my eyes by Nicola Pagget, was a book I could not put down, and took 2 days to read.
A story of how manic depression can slowley take over your whole life and change your personality so much,
Just wish there was a follow up.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jan 2011, 12:08:37 GMT
How do I go about purchasing this book!
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