" 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, M.D. , Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, Columbia University Artist, and author of Musicophilia "The haunting thing about the suitcase owners is that it's so easy to identify with them."-- Newsweek "In their poignant detail the items helped rescue these individuals from the dark sprawl of anonymity."-- The New York Times "[The authors] spent 10 years piecing together . . . the lives these patients lived before they were nightmarishly stripped of their identities."-- Newsday More than four hundred abandoned suitcases filled with patients' belongings were found when Willard Psychiatric Center closed in 1995 after 125 years of operation. They are skillfully examined here and compared to the written record to create a moving--and devastating--group portrait of twentieth-century American psychiatric care.
The lives they left behind
suitcases from a state hospital attic
New York :, Bellevue Literary Press,, 2008
205 p. :,ill. (some col.) ;,24 cm
Statement of Responsibility:
Darby Penney and Peter Stastny ; with photographs by Lisa Rinzler
Prologue: Life in the attic
He took them on their last walk
Who went to Willard and why did they go there?
How I would have furnished my room (if not for the voices)
In permanent limbo: she kept asking for dispensation (until her doctor turned into the devil incarnate)
Children died and she knit her life away
Like a fly in a spider web
How people were treated at Willard
A photographic talent: rising above the fray
A frequent visitor to the White House
My blood temper...resigned
An Italian princess and a French intellectual: two ways of fighting for freedom
Epilogue: Is it better today?
Branch Call Number:
362.21 P413L 2008