Monday, January 31, 2005

The Snake Pit

I dug something out from web about "The Snake Pit". There was also the British DJ, but I can't paste it here.

The Snake Pit
Cassell and Company, London 1947

"Long ago they lowered insane persons into snake pits; they thought that an experience that might drive a sane person out of his wits might send an insane person back into sanity."

1947 DUST JACKET: "Long ago men tried to shock the insane back into sanity by throwing them into a snake pit--a drastic treatment which by its sudden terror was sometimes successful. Modern methods, though superficially more civilized, often rely on the same brutal shock to achieve their results.

This is the story of Virginia Cunningham who has suffered so complete a nervous breakdown that she is out of her mind. It is the story of her slow and painful return to sanity, told by herself. We see the treatment she is given through her own eyes--hazily and incoherently at first, for she cannot grasp what is done to her, nor recognize the faces round her. Then the writing keeps pace with the growing lucidity of the mind and shares the patient's restless rebelliousness when she thinks she is better than she really is. Finally there is complete return to normal and the happiness of release to rejoin her husband.

This remarkable piece of writing is outstanding for its honesty and its sincerity. The author has no axes to grind about the mentally unbalanced or the treatment given to them, but has written a book of astonishing power in which the reader feels acutely every change of state and fortune along the patient's hard road back to health. It is in no way a morbid, nor a medical book: it is a feat of writing which the reader will find absolutely absorbing."

(But that seems all I can find. There seems to be also Mary Jane Ward, an early American settler. But that's no her. Or then she's mighty old.)

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