Title: A Mind That Found Itself
Author: Clifford Whittingham Beers
Genre: Autobiography, Psychiatry
Author’s Website: http://www.cliffordbeers.org/about-us/ (Website for the Clifford Beers Clinic which bears his name and continues to follow his vision for patient care.)
Dr Perera’s Rating:
Clifford Beers recounts what it was like to be institutionalized at a time when mental illness received little attention or respect. It’s a landmark work that transformed the mental healthcare industry. As a psychiatrist reading this book it forces me to think of how we would be viewed in the future when people look back on what we do today.
The story describes Beers’ own descent into the depths of despair due to what could probably be called a psychotic depression; and, how he climbed out of it without access to the types of medications and treatments we have today. Beers speaks candidly about how he reacted adversely to those who treated him as less than a person, and how he responded best to those who treated him in a humane fashion.
After he became well, he captured his experience in this book. It was an eye-opening picture of the mental institutions and psychiatric practices at the time, and launched a movement that revolutionised the treatment of mentally ill people.
This is an invaluable read for psychiatrists in training and other medical practitioners. The summary is presented at the beginning of the book which would in my view have been better left out so that the reader could find his/her way into the narrative.