Gail Hornstein & "Agnes's Jacket: A Psychologist's Search for the Meanings of Madness"

Madness Radio
program date: 
Mon, 11/01/2010

 Host Will Hall interviews Gail Hornstein, Professor of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College. Her research spans the history of 20th-century psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis.

Her widely-reviewed biography To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichmann tells the tale of a pioneering psychiatrist who dedicated her life to treating very disturbed patients. The Philadelphia Inquirer called it "fascinating and comprehensive," andContemporary Psychology hailed its "exemplary scholarship and lucid writing." 

Unlike most scholars who study mental illness, Hornstein has always been as interested in patients' experiences as in doctors' theories. She has compiled a bibliography of first-person narratives of madness which now lists more than 700 titles, and her current research focuses on the contributions that patients—past and present—have made to our understanding of psychology. Her new book, Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness, shows how the insights of those diagnosed as "schizophrenic," "bipolar," "depressed," and "paranoid" can help us radically reconceive fundamental assumptions about madness and mental life.


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