If you haven’t read this book, please do. It is the evocatively written fictionalized autobiography of author Joanne Greenberg’s three year treatment for schizophrenia at Chestnut Lodge, in Rockville, MD, from 1948 to 1951 under the care of Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. What strikes me most about this book, is not just the superb writing, but the fact that the author was successfully treated largely without medications. She and her psychiatrist talked their way to recovery. According to what I read, the only medication she received was something she took at bedtime occasionally to help her sleep at night.
Hannah Green, by all accounts, was pretty far gone as a patient. She found herself placed in the hospital’s back wards on many occasions. At the end of the book, she is due to re-enter Chestnut Lodge once more, once more having retreated from forging an identify for herself in the local town. I think this is a very realistic look at the journey of schizophrenia, of the struggle to construct a personality. Having read I Never Promised You a Rose Garden was very helpful when Chris re-entered the hospital recently. I saw it as not so much a relapse but more as a necessary stage in his development. He has emerged all the stronger for it.