Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Madness (Modern Library)

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9780679603306: Out of Her Mind: Women Writing on Madness (Modern Library)

Ever since doctors first labeled their female patients "hysterical," women have occupied a unique place in the world of mental illness. Whether harboring a dark mood or suffering from a crippling mental illness, such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or manic depression, a select few of these women have deftly rendered the psychological turmoil that has touched their lives in writing that ranks among the most intriguing and emotionally compelling in American literature.

In this anthology-the first of its kind Rebecca Shannonhouse has collected the most affecting, finely wrought essays, memoirs, and fiction by women writing on madness. Some of the selections in this volume are literary classics, such as Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and an excerpt from Sylvia Plath's The Belljar. Several selections are taken from contemporary works, including Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted and Lauren Slater's "Black Swans." Still others are published here for the first time, most notably several letters written by Zelda Fitzgerald during her stays in a mental hospital. All these works offer powerful insights into the largely private world of emotional suffering, and at the same time possess the elements of great literature. As a collection, these voices provide a diverse and remarkable chronicle of women struggling with madness.

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From the Back Cover:


"A startling, stunning, wise, heartbreaking, and most useful collection. The women's writing excerpted spans five hundred years, although about half describe madness (and its continued mistreatment) from the perspective of the 1990s. Some crusade against asylum abuse, some poignantly record the loss of their loved ones to madness, some write of their own descents into hell. A book for soulful and literary people of all genders, everywhere."

-PHYLLIS CHESLER, PH.D., author of Women and Madness and Letters to a Young Feminist

"A well-chosen collection ... a stirring anthology of the best and most searing
writings that brightly illuminate the dark side of so many women's lives."
-Kirkus Reviews

Including selections by

Sylvia Plath - Zelda Fitzgerald - Susanna Kaysen - Lauren Slater - Kate Millett - Janet Frame - Charlotte Perkins - Stetson Gilman - Linda Gray Sexton - Dorothea Dix - Margery Kempe - Allie Light - Elizabeth Parsons Ware Packard - "Renee" - Mary Jane Ward - Signe Hammer - Maxine Hong Kingston - Tracy Thompson - Martha Ellen Hughes - Elizabeth Cochrane Meri - Nana-Ama Danquah

About the Author:

Rebecca Shannonhouse is a freelance writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

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Published by Modern Library (2000)
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