Books About the Mentally Ill and Therapist/Patient Relationships

The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron is a novel about anorexia; Levenkron is a psychotherapist who writes both fiction and non-fiction, including a book about cutting. The patient in the book I read is an inpatient for a short time.

Since the OP speifically asked about treatment situations, I want to take a moment to recommend St. Mary Blue by Barry B. Longyear. It is a semi-autobiographical novel based on Longyear’s own treatment in an inpatient facility for alcoholism. It sheds a lot of light, in passing, on the link between substance abuse and mental illness.

There is also a sequel called Kessa

I loved Captain Newman, MD by Leo Rosten (the movie starring Gregory Peck was also excellent). It’s more a collection of related stories than a novel really, each concentrating on a different psychiatric patient in an Air Force (?) hospital during WWII. While the psychoanalytic slant might be a little tough for some to take, the protagonist is compassionate and ingenious in a time when psychotropic drugs were generally unavailable (although there is one story that involves the use of sodium pentothal).


I also enjoyed this book. I got one of my favorite lines from it: An agnostic is an atheist who doesn’t want to talk about it.

I remember that very well. It’s one of the best ST short stories I’ve ever read.

Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon is worth a read. I’d recommend the short story over the novel.

My favorite line from the book remains: “You’re a nasty little shit. Why don’t you do something about that?”

Just in case it’s not clear, this is not a comment directed at PoorYorick, nor anyone else in this thread.

Good God–I must have read it in the early 80s. Anyway, it’s a good read. I also second Flowers for Algernon and Sybil.

There’s When Rabbit Howls by Truddie Chase, another MPD patient (maybe this should branch out into a different thread).

Not to dispute the excellence of the story, but the narrator in FFA is not mentally ill. He’s retarded and the subject of an experiment.

Yes. Excellent book, especially knowing how his life turned out all these years later.

Torey Hayden was a special ed teacher/child psychologist who writes excellent books about her work with mentally ill children.

That is one creepy book.

For a while after Sybil became the flavor of the month, there were a ton of books published about people with MPD who had been sexually abused and had recovered memory syndrome. Families were torn up, teachers were accused of ghastly things, and the whole thing turned into a repition of the Salem witch hunts.

Most of the books are creepy, disgusting, and a waste of time.

The book primarily responsible for the episode you’re talking about is Michelle Remembers. I doubt, however, that a book like Michelle Remembers could have been published without the success of Sybil paving the way. And to be clear, I think both books have about as much truth in them as A Million Little Pieces or any of Beatrice Sparks’ inventions.

If a fraction of what she says is true then her childhood made Sybil’s look like THE BRADY BUNCH*, but she actually made me laugh on Oprah. She was asked about her marriage and divorce and said “Yeah… dozens of us and can you believe we all made the same @#(RW*ed mistake!”

*Hmm… maybe Jan was an only child and had MPD; the other kids were other manifestations.

Cindy Brady strikes me as a particularly nasty manifestation.

Here’s a movie that may be of interest:

I bought “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” at Half Price today, and I’m already enjoying it. Thanks to everyone!

Oh, and I also ordered the Star Trek book, so a special thanks for feeding my new addiction.