This week’s review is The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. One of my favorite ways to rest is by curling up with a good book. Like movies and music, all genres appeal to me, and I give all books a chance to be ‘heard’!
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The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah CahalanClick To Tweet
Susannah Cahalan gives an informative and thorough history of mental health and the inability of psychiatrists to adequately diagnose and treat it – even to this day – in her work The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness. The truths of this poorly funded and misunderstood area of mental health are slowly revealed through David Rosenhaun’s well-known study “Of Being Sane in Insane Places”. This ‘study’ included nine individuals committing themselves to insane asylums in order to infiltrate the system and report their findings. They were to discover the inner workings of the system and discover, firsthand, how mentally ill patients are truly being ‘treated’.
The horrors reported at dozens of asylums and psychiatric hospitals left me shocked, disgusted, and angry. How easily one can be dismissed or even disregarded when suffering mentally shows just how much we need to do better. The dehumanization and depersonalization of patients are outlandish, outdated, and unacceptable.
Susannah’s own experiences of being misdiagnosed (leading to her rapid health decline involving advanced psychosis) and a last-minute intervening of proper diagnosis in order to properly heal, was the foundation of starting on this investigation of the mental health area. She was the perfect person to write this book. She wrote without bias and covered all angles in a personal and journalistic fashion when appropriate.
Why I Recommend It
“The Great Pretender” left no stone unturned when it comes to research studies and the history of mental health. Numerous sources were consulted, quoted, and credited throughout the book and included at the end for further reading. Thanks to Mrs. Cahalan, I will no longer blindly believe a study, but rather seek it’s validity first.
If you or someone you know suffers from a mental illness, I encourage you to pick up this book. Take your time to read it. Soak up the knowledge. Think about what you’ve read. It’s a game-changer in the way I view mental health for so many reasons on so many levels.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
Susannah Cahalan on the Today Show
Book of the Month Club
I enjoyed books so much that I joined the Book of the Month Club to continue receiving the latest and greatest books via mail. Some of the books are exclusive to BOTM club members a month prior to their official publishing date! Each month I’m excited about the monthly selections, and it’s tough to select just one. (And when I can’t decide on one, I can add additional books for a small add-on charge and – as always – shipping is included in the monthly membership fee.) Can’t find one you want? That’s okay, too! Skip a month, pocket the credit to spend next month, and you won’t be charged for that current month.
Follow my book finds and reviews on Instagram at Brandi’s Book Corner.
Book Ratings and Reviews
Each book I review is based on my opinion. My book rating is simple: love, like or dislike. I like the simplicity of it. This does not mean you will agree with the review or love/like/dislike the book, too. There’s a quote that says, “No two persons ever read the same book” by Edmund Wilson, and it’s quite true!
Do you have a book to recommend? I’d love to hear about it! Contact me.