Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

If you haven't read this book, please do. It is the evocatively written fictionalized autobiography of author Joanne Greenberg's three year treatment for schizophrenia at Chestnut Lodge, in Rockville, MD, from 1948 to 1951 under the care of Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann. What strikes me most about this book, is not just the superb writing, but the fact that the author was successfully treated largely without medications. She and her psychiatrist talked their way to recovery. According to what I read, the only medication she received was something she took at bedtime occasionally to help her sleep at night.

Hannah Green, by all accounts, was pretty far gone as a patient. She found herself placed in the hospital's back wards on many occasions. At the end of the book, she is due to re-enter Chestnut Lodge once more, once more having retreated from forging an identify for herself in the local town. I think this is a very realistic look at the journey of schizophrenia, of the struggle to construct a personality. Having read I Never Promised You a Rose Garden was very helpful when Chris re-entered the hospital recently. I saw it as not so much a relapse but more as a necessary stage in his development. He has emerged all the stronger for it.


  1. I first read this book in 2003, after many years having heard about it (well, perhaps two).

    It is also very well written about in Mad, Bad and Sad (Appeghanasi), perhaps my favourite mental health book.

    Deborah and Dr Furi are such interesting characters. And the whole thing which started Deborah in Yr ... she thought she would kill her baby sister. The whole fear of harm or contamination.

  2. I flipped through Mad, Bad and Sad în a book store recently. It is well researched and highly recommended.

  3. Just came by here, from Ron Unger's blog. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden saved my life, I dare say. I'd read it as a teen, and it was the first thing that came to mind when I found myself face to face with a label of "schizophrenia". As devastating as the situation was, I kept on telling myself, that if Joanne Greenberg was able to make it, I was, too. Also, it kept me from buying into the medical model and the drugs that inevitably come along with it. This book, and a therapist who had the guts to respect my wish to stay undrugged and out of hospital.

  4. Marian - I used the Kierkegaard quote I found on your blog for my post today. It was perfect timing! I love your Different Thoughts blog.


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