×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic
     

The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic

3.3 22
by Darby Penney, Peter Stastny, Lisa Rinzler, Robert Whitaker
 

See All Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 1934137146

ISBN-13: 9781934137147

Pub. Date: 01/01/2009

Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press

The Lives They Left Behind is a deeply moving testament to the human side of mental illness, and of the narrow margin which so often separates the sane from the mad. It is a remarkable portrait, too, of the life of a psychiatric asylum—the sort of community in which, for better and for worse, hundreds of thousands of people lived out their lives.

Overview

The Lives They Left Behind is a deeply moving testament to the human side of mental illness, and of the narrow margin which so often separates the sane from the mad. It is a remarkable portrait, too, of the life of a psychiatric asylum—the sort of community in which, for better and for worse, hundreds of thousands of people lived out their lives. Darby Penney and Peter Stastny’s careful historical (almost archaeological) and biographical reconstructions give us unique insight into these lives which would otherwise be lost and, indeed, unimaginable to the rest of us.” —Oliver Sacks

“Fascinating. . . . The haunting thing about the suitcase owners is that it’s so easy to identify with them.” —Newsweek

When Willard State Hospital closed its doors in 1995, after operating as one of New York State’s largest mental institutions for over 120 years, a forgotten attic filled with suitcases belonging to former patients was discovered. Using the possessions found in these suitcases along with institutional records and doctors’ notes from patient sessions, Darby Penney, a leading advocate of patients’ rights, and Peter Stastny, a psychiatrist and documentary filmmaker, were able to reconstruct the lives of ten patients who resided at Willard during the first half of the twentieth century.

The Lives They Left Behind tells their story. In addition to these human portraits, the book contains over 100 photographs as well as valuable historical background on how this state-funded institution operated. As it restores the humanity of the individuals it so poignantly evokes, The Lives They Left Behind reveals the vast historical inadequacies of a psychiatric system that has yet to heal itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934137147
Publisher:
Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date:
01/01/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
55,506
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
PatsyAnn More than 1 year ago
A must read for anyone interested in the history of the mental health system in our country. The book covers the early 20th century up until about the early 70's. In this book you will read letters from patients, doctor's notes, and learn just how easy it was to have someone committed. You will find out that most of the "patients" were never even sick. A wealth of information collected and compiled in a way that is easy to read and understand.
Shirley Schrecengost More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed reading this book, very informative
First_n_last More than 1 year ago
I've always been interested in learning about state hospitals, and the lives of those who were placed in them. I found this book to be incredibly interesting but somewhat difficult to follow at times. I constantly found myself turning back a few pages to double check the things that were said (medical terms, locations, etc.) And while I agree there is a bit of opinion thrown in by the author, the facts are there. And I felt that by the end I had become very attached to the people of Willard and I wanted to know so much more. I would highly recommend this book for anyone that has an interest more so in patient life and treatment. This is no uplifting book so be prepared to become a little frustrated if you get attached to people like I do.
LALN More than 1 year ago
The Lives They Left Behind, talks all about the Willard State Hospital that used to house mental patients up until about 1980. The book depicts how the patients were medically treated during their stay, what it was like for them there, and also the stories of their lives that were lost during all the years the institution was open. The message of the entire the book was basically to prove how poorly the patients were treated at the hospital because they didn't receive proper care, they were forced to work at the institution, and most of the patients were never discharged from Willard. There is a reoccurring theme that staying in the hospital caused the patients to change and almost make their mental state worse than it was when they were first admitted. This theme is prominent because while reading the medical reports about the patients, one can clearly tell based on the records that their condition worsened and no treatment worked on most patients.In my personal opinion, reading the stories about the people in the hospital was the most entertaining part of the book. This is because the stories gave a detailed description of the patient's mental health and gave you and inside look as to who the person really was. As opposed to making you feel the patients admitted were just one more mental person roaming around, the book made you see them as they really were. Although the stories were enlightening, the rest of the book made me feel the author was very biased against the hospital. Most of the book is describing the horrible way they were treated and how no one was every released. Although I did feel sorry for the patients of the institution, by the end of the book I felt it was very repetitive. I would not recommend reading this book because even though it did have good points most of the book was extremely boring. I found it difficult to read The Lives They Left Behind because of the fact the author was trying the entire time to get sympathy votes for the mental patients and brought up the same facts multiple times throughout the book. It was very informing but I would not say it's something you pick up and read just because it's enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had a very interesting idea. The problems that were mentioned were common among state mental hospitals. I worked at one, and so I do know the general history of mental illness and hospitalization. I found it to be educational, however I was left wishing they had more information on the people then the human rights issues so common in institutions. I did find the story about the grave digger to be fasinating and made this book worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a sleeper. Don't waste your money !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Psychology_Student More than 1 year ago
When I heard the idea behind this book, I was fascinated. What a great idea! Then I read the book. It's appalling. It was not the stories of these 10 patients--it was full of assumptions about their lives and boils down to the authors' own crusade against mental health institutions. Their posits and assumptions about the history of the patients, how they were treated and what they experiences are horrid. These assumptions truly ruin the book, changing it from the insight into these people's lives into a finger pointing game. I would strongly discourage anyone from buying this book. It's distasteful and disrespectful. As a psychology major, I implore you to pick out a less biased and more encompassing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why stick to the facts and modern psychiatric knowledge when you can just read some guys biased interpretation of a few scraps of history.
DebsSweet More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your money - it's not what you think it is. B O R I N G