Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America's Premier Mental Hospital

Beam, Alex

Published by Public Affairs, 2001
ISBN 10: 1891620754 / ISBN 13: 9781891620751
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First edition, stated; first printing, full number line. Signed by the author on the title page: "Alex Beam." The book chronicles the story of Boston-area McLean Hospital, whose illustrious inmates have included Frederick Law Olmstead (who chose its grandly landscaped grounds), Sylvia Plath, James Taylor, Robert Lowell, and others. Former owner name on front endpaper, else unmarked; corners sharp, spine ends bumped. The dust jacket is not price-clipped (original price $26.00); "Autographed" sticker on front panel. Brodart protected. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: An entertaining and poignant social histroy of McLean Hospital-temporary home to many of the troubled genuises of our age-and of the evolution of the treatment of mental illness from the early 19th centruy to today. . Its landscaped ground, chosen by Frederick Law Olmsted and dotted with Tudor mansions, could belong to a New England prep school. There are no fences, no guards, no locked gates. But McLean Hospital is a mental institution-one of the most famous, most elite, and once most luxurious in America. McLean "alumni" include Olmsted himself, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, James Taylor and Ray Charles, as well as (more secretly) other notables from among the rich and famous. In its "golden age," McLean provided as genteel an environment for the treatment of mental illness as one could imagine. But the golden age is over, and a downsized, downscale McLean-despite its affiliation with Harvard University-is struggling to stay afloat. Gracefully Insane, by Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam, is a fascinating and emotional biography of McLean Hospital from its founding in 1817 through today. It is filled with stories about patients and doctors: the Ralph Waldo Emerson protg whose brilliance disappeared along with his madness; Anne Sexton's poetry seminar, and many more. The story of McLean is also the story of the hopes and failures of psychology and psychotherapy; of the evolution of attitudes about mental illness, of approaches to treatment, and of the economic pressures that are making McLean-and other institutions like it-relics of a bygone age. This is a compelling and often oddly poignant reading for fans of books like Plath's The Bell Jar and Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted (both inspired by their author's stays at McLean) and for anyone interested in the history of medicine or psychotherapy, or the social history of New England.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of ...
Publisher: Public Affairs
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Very Good +
Edition: First Edition

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