Speaking of stigma, last summer I read a book (this isn’t a review) called Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness by Stephen P. Hinshaw. It was the first book I’d ever read about the stigma towards mental illness, and is told through the author’s family experience.
Hinshaw’s father was in and out of mental hospitals beginning in the ’30s, and was misdiagnosed. It wasn’t until later (the ’60s, maybe — sorry — like I said, I read the book a while ago) that he was correctly diagnosed as having bipolar I. By then, Hinshaw was old enough to understand what his dad was going through, as well as the reason for his absences when the author was growing up.
In the past, mental patients were mistreated and abused in psych wards and mental hospitals. Most of you probably know that. Hinshaw’s father was no exception. He was beaten; put into insulin-induced coma therapy; received shock treatment (now known as ECT), which in the ’50s “was often used barbarically” (p. 84); among other things.
This book resonated with me for a couple of reasons. First, Hinshaw’s dad was an esteemed professor at The Ohio State University. That’s my grad school alma mater. After graduation, I, too, wanted to be a professor until the Breakdown kept me from pursuing that career. Second, because I’ve also had numerous ECT treatments, which are no longer barbaric, thankfully, and are now done with the patient’s consent.
Although there is still much stigma towards mental illness today, society has come a long way from the stigma experienced by the Hinshaw family in the mid-20th century.
Can you recommend any good books regarding mental health stigma?
Photo from stephenhinshawauthor.com