Category: ECT

Sylvia Plath: Author of a film, not yet in release, based on her celebrated autobiographical novel

Psychiatry Films from AMHF: “The Bell Jar” (1979, 2013?)

This is the final blog in the AMHF series of twenty-one films relating to “Hollywood and Psychiatry.” These blogs have taken us from ca. 1921, and the release of silent classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a mere three years before The American Mental Health Foundation was organized, into the twenty-first century. The first blog […]

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schiz blog

Starting out with Schizophrenia

A feature story in today’s Washington Post, written by Stephanie McCrummen, offers an intensive look at the week of a 19-year-old man who, two years ago, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. It is the story of Spencer Haskell, and of his mom, Naomi, who has taken on the task of monitoring her son and making […]

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Mental Illness and Churches

Newly minted pastor Ed Stetzer, writing in CNN.beliefnet, writes of his dealings with a man in his congregation. This person would often disappear for days at a time, and later Stetzer would hear that the fellow had spent hours praying the psalms. Later the man killed himself, leading Stetzer to reflect of aproaches churches could […]

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First, the moon; now, the brain (photo by NASA)

The Future, the Brain

President Barack Obama made headlines with his proposal to encourage American scientists to work toward understanding the great mysteries of the brain. Done as a massive project, this could rival past collective enterprises such as Getting a Man to the Moon; when President Kennedy suggested this, it took everyone’s breath away. It looked unattainable in […]

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Janet Frame's story brought to the screen thro Jane Campion and Laura Jones

Psychiatry Films from AMHF: “An Angel at My Table” (1990)

This is the thirteenth of twenty-one films in the series on psychiatry in film. The plot summary is provided by Judd Blaise Rovi. New Zealand poet Janet Frame is the subject of Jane Campion’s biographical drama, which presents a poetically evocative look at the author’s turbulent life. The film begins with Frame’s childhood, showing her […]

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A novel sensitively adapted by Millen Brand, from a year that AMHF flourished

Psychiatry Films from AMHF: “The Snake Pit” (1948)

I feel unusually close to The Snake Pit, personally, if not intimately and daily, working with one of the writers, Millen Brand, during my early days in book publishing. This, the tenth film out of twenty-one in the AMHF series, required significant research from the filmmakers in adapting an autobiographical novel by Jane Ward. The […]

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McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) as a wise-cracking Everyma

Psychiatry Films from AMHF: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975)

Of the twenty-one films for discussion on this Web site, here is number six, which stars Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher in signature roles. Thus is the plot, in slightly condensed form, from Wikipedia: In 1963, Randle Patrick “Mac” McMurphy (Jack Nicholson)—a recidivist anti-authoritarian criminal serving a sentence on an Oregon-prison farm for statutory rape […]

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Special needs. Bullying. Psychological testing. Violence. Has science gone too far?

Psychiatry Films from AMHF: “Charly” (1968)

This is the fifth of twenty-one films in the AMHF series of blogs. Charly is a controversial film, about mental retardation and psychiatry. The central controversy revolves around the question, “What is a human being?” Are individuals challenged by developmental delays “to be cured?” Are they not soulful, “whole individuals”? What would be the role […]

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American Psychological Association Announces Guidelines for Psychologist Involvement in Pharmacological Issues

In the recent yearly “Reports of the Association” issue of the American Psychologist (December 2011), the American Psychological Association announced “Practice Guidelines Regarding Psychologists’ Involvement in Pharmacological Issues.” This report notes several factors that will make psychologists more involved in medication-management issues. One survey noted that the number of Americans using antidepressants increased from 6.7 […]

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Alexandra Styron (USA Today)

Becoming Alexandra Styron

The following is based on interviews with Alexandra Styron. I first met Alexandra Styron at a reading of her new book, Reading My Father: A Memoir (Scribner, 2011). She was appearing at the Quogue Public Library on Long Island. It was one of those beautiful midsummer afternoons that remind one so much of Henry James’s […]

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The Heart Too Long Suppressed

I came across this memoir (with its compelling title, somewhat reminiscent of the work of Clarice Lispector) upon learning its author, Carol Hebald, had been awarded (six years before) the same fellowship I had been given as an undergraduate. The foreword is by iconoclast Thomas Stephen Szasz, known for his anti-traditional “anti-views” of psychotherapy. In […]

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Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar: A Factitious Death?

In 1953, the year the Rosenbergs were convicted in the electric chair, Esther Greenwood (a.k.a. Elly Higginbottom), poet Sylvia Plath’s alter ego (further complicating the picture, Plath wrote under the pen name “Victoria Lucas”), underwent electroshock therapy. Electricity, neurological connections, high-strung emotion, madness, suicide (which the real-life Plath committed ten years after the setting of […]

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