The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic

The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic - Lisa Rinzler, Peter Stastny, Darby Penney, Robert Whitaker This book is an eye-opening and disturbing look into the world of mental health hospitals. From their beginnings in the well-considered British Quaker "moral therapy" treatments (that worked), United States mental hospitals became warehouses for people who were homeless, in crisis, had a language barrier or merely cursed at someone.This story begins with an attic full of suitcases at the former Willard State Hospital in upstate New York. They contained the belongings of patients/inmates, most of whom expired in custody. The authors worked with public records to learn the life stories of the 10 patients profiled within these pages, oftentimes revealing people whose sanity was most assuredly intact and who were kept in custody for "failing to appreciate their situation" and insisting that they were being held against their will.An epilogue discusses how the pharmacological treatments of mental illness have been known for some time to be ineffective and cause permanent neurological damage, and how they were employed for the convenience of caregivers.This is a sad book, to be certain, but one that anyone concerned with today's mental health crisis should read for a greater understanding of the importance of patient advocacy.