The old movie, The Snake Pit with Gloria DeHavilland (1948) was on television this week. I remember when I first watched it, I was fascinated and yet so sympathetic. Another movie, Sybil (1976), came along and I was even more pulled in by that story. Both of these were, I believe, based upon books. Why are we fascinated with those books or movies that reflect the abnormal? Do we see some part of ourselves there? Do we whisper thankfully, "There, but for the Grace of God, go I"?
Memoirs From the Asylum by Kenneth Weene who is a psychologist and pastoral counselor gives us a realistic look into a state hospital for those mentally ill.
Several of the characters in this ward are diagnosed with Schizophrenia (a group of severe brain disorders in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behavior). Yes, I looked it up because I wanted to be sure I understood...
One of the things I noticed was that one of the individuals was said to be catatonic, but really wasn't. Marilyn merely lived in her own world--a world that included all the good people that were important to her. You see, she really wasn't there lying in her bed, she was inside a crack in the wall right next to her bed, with her dog, her brother, et.al. On the other hand, the man who narrates the story is merely scared. I found a little bit of myself in both of them...would you?
Weene, in an afternote, said, "The hope that...it has made you think and feel..." Ahhh, indeed I did! There is no way readers will not feel compassion and sympathy for those there in the hospital.
For me, I also could not feel anything but anger and disgust for many of the workers that were there as well. Perhaps because I felt that this was more true than not...
The book focuses on one counselor, Buford Abrose, M.D., first year resident in psychiatry. He has Marilyn as his patient. Since she is seen as catatonic and Dr. Abrose is to spend time with her, we are allowed to see many of his thoughts--about his wife who married a doctor who would be rich and well thought of, not an individual working in a state hospital! He is a caring man, trying to do his job. Readers will feel and respond to his frustration and anger at many actions he sees, but cannot change. Like the head of the hospital caring more about forms to be completed than about the patients there!
Shall I declare Memoirs From the Asylum a must-read for those who work at and care for those in hospitals or other care facilities. Of course, I must...and hopefully they will respond! For those entering the various fields of psychology and counseling, may you feel first and understand what you will need to do. For those readers who have brushed clinical depression, job burnout, and other short-term stresses, you may find a need to read this book.
Readers must decide whether this book is for them; I can only tell you for sure--you WILL think and feel...and you will learn!
And you will remember. Authetic, compelling drama that forces a response!
This incredible novel is more than just a book about the insane. The characters in all their crazed out existences question what it means to be human and what happens when our greatest fears trap us from living. Set during the 1970s/1980s the book is reminiscent of the movies, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Girl Interrupted only with a more uplifting, thought provoking edge. Like its movie predecessors this novel pits the inmates against the staff, but therein lays the excellent dichotomy that … more
I guess it isn't a review when the author writes about his own book. But I want to urge you to read this one. Why? Because it raises not only questions about mental health but also important questions about the human experience and the choices we all have to make. If you go to Amazon and read the reviews, I think you'll be impressed. Here is the link to one of the trailers for the book. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGyl0JMTEJ4   … more
Many books take on the subject of mental illness, many more are set in psychiatric wards, but usually these are narratives that recount a single story or perspective. What distinguishes Memoirs from the Asylum is the fact that the reader is introduced not only to individuals in a mental institution but the larger community of the institutionalized lifestyle. Ken Weene introduces his reader to numerous, dynamically-drawn characters that absolutely come alive on the page, not only through their private … more
After a life-long career in university administration, I retired early and became a partner in an online review site. But then I officially retired and now keep my activities mostly to my blog, Facebook, … more
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Creatively written in the present tense and in diary/documentary format. The writing is clear and flows easily. Filled with realistic characters and events, this is a fascinating read that entertains and educates. (Irene Brodsky Faculty Brooklyn College, CUNY Adult Education Program, Author "Poetry Unplugged")