This, and the previous excerpt I posted, are small selections from the book “The Inner World of Mental Illness”, published by Harper & Row in 1964. It’s one of my favorite books, written by a variety of people in very different circumstances and with very different afflictions; all the stories have the same undertone of fear, grieving, and pragmatism.
I’ve read this book to shreds, literally.
Most of the chapters in it are excerpts from longer books written by the mentally ill, but some are merely short pieces, collected by doctors or nurses. I’ll post more of these if enough of you want more of them.
The book includes a variety of mental illnesses, so if you’d like an excerpt dealing with some other disorder, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best.
This excerpt is from “I am crazy wild this minute”, written by Lara Jefferson in the 40s. It was written on scrap paper and wrapping paper in a state hospital.
When her writing was discovered by staff, she was given a typewriter and encouraged to continue. Hospitals at that time were much more chaotic, and psychosis was not treated with as much compassion or medical understanding as it is today.
Had I been born in the age and time when the world dealt in a straightforward manner with misfits as could not meet the requirements of living, I would not have been much of a problem to my contemporaries. They would have said that I was “Possessed of the Devil” and promptly stoned me to death- or else disposed of me in some other equally effective manner.
I know I cannot think straight- but the conclusions I arrive at are very convincing to me and I still think the whole system is a regular Hades itself. …
I cannot conduct myself as the rules set forth because something has broken loose within me and I am insane- and differ from these others to the extent that I still have sense enough to know it; which is a mark of spectacular intelligence- so they tell me.
Here I sit- mad as the hatter- with nothing to do but either become madder and madder- or else recover enough of my sanity to be allowed to go back to the life which drove me mad.