The lives they left behind: suitcases from a state hospital attic

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" 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.

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9781934137147
9781934137239
9781934137079
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID e6e06c63-1ff6-4648-ab3b-b06d6b48bf84
Grouping Title lives they left behind suitcases from a state hospital attic
Grouping Author penney darby
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2018-08-14 23:22:34PM
Last Indexed 2018-08-15 00:41:30AM

Solr Details

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auth_author2 Stastny, Peter.
author Darby Penney
author2-role Stastny, Peter.
author_display Penney, Darby
collection_catalog Non-Fiction
detailed_location_catalog Southeast - Adult Non-Fiction
display_description

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
“Fascinating. . . . The haunting thing about the suitcase owners is that it's so easy to identify with them." —Newsweek
When Willard State Hospital closed its doors in 1995, after operating as one of New York State's largest mental institutions for over 120 years, a forgotten attic filled with suitcases belonging to former patients was discovered. Using the possessions found in these suitcases along with institutional records and doctors' notes from patient sessions, Darby Penney, a leading advocate of patients' rights, and Peter Stastny, a psychiatrist and documentary filmmaker, were able to reconstruct the lives of ten patients who resided at Willard during the first half of the twentieth century.
The Lives They Left Behind tells their story. In addition to these human portraits, the book contains over 100 photographs as well as valuable historical background on how this state-funded institution operated. As it restores the humanity of the individuals it so poignantly evokes, The Lives They Left Behind reveals the vast historical inadequacies of a psychiatric system that has yet to heal itself.

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literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_catalog 362.21 P4138L
owning_library_catalog Nashville Public Library
owning_location_catalog Southeast
primary_isbn 9781934137147
publishDate 2008, 2009
record_details ils:CARL0000366883|Book|Books|1st ed.|English|Bellevue Literary Press,|2008.|205 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm., overdrive:4b240a87-2191-48af-a231-3f5c4afc02eb|eBook|eBook||English|Bellevue Literary Press|2009|
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subject_facet Psychiatric hospital patients -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography, Psychiatric hospitals -- New York (State) -- New York -- History, Willard Psychiatric Center (N.Y.) -- History
title_display The lives they left behind : suitcases from a state hospital attic
title_full The Lives They Left Behind Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic, The lives they left behind : suitcases from a state hospital attic / Darby Penney and Peter Stastny ; with photographs by Lisa Rinzler
title_short The lives they left behind :
title_sub suitcases from a state hospital attic
topic_facet Biography & Autobiography, History, Nonfiction, Psychiatric hospital patients, Psychiatric hospitals, Psychology