Studies in Martial Crisis
Schizophrenic Women is a fascinating report on the lives of seventeen families that suffered the experiences associated with the hospitalization of the wife and mother for mental illness. A description and analysis of representative experiences is presented here in an attempt to investigate various key issues—the patterns of family living preceding the crisis leading to medical hospitalization; how the patterns fell apart; how personal and family crises became psychiatric emergencies; how the hospital experiences modified both the immediate crises and the earlier patterns of living—and how durable those changes were once the patients had returned home. The book goes beyond the immediate lives of the women and their families—the authors direct attention to patterns of psychiatric care and to the ways in which such crises as those experienced by these women and their families come to professional attention and are managed. The authors explore how help is found and used and some of the functions hospitalization serves for patients and their families. They point out some of the ways that traditional patterns of psychiatric care limit the power to observe, understand, and effectively influence a pathological course of events. In her new introduction to Schizophrenic Women, Rita J. Simon notes that, "Although the study was conducted in the 1950s, readers will recognize its current relevance and importance for scholars and the lay public interested in the problem of mental illness and intrafamily relationships." Harold Sampson is president and co-founder of the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group. He is a member of the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute as well as being on the Institute faculty. He is also Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, and is in private practice in San Francisco. Sheldon L. Messinger was professor emeritus, and vice-chair of the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the Law School, University of California, Berkeley. He died in 2003. Robert D. Towne was a psychiatrist and member of the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Society. Rita J. Simon is University Professor in the School of Public Affairs at the Washington College of Law at American University. She is the editor of the journal Gender Issues, published by the Transaction Periodicals Consortium.
“Most studies of the families of schizophrenics have been of the families of origins. This study of 17 women diagnosed schizophrenic and admitted to one state hospital is the only one so far to present extended descriptions of the vicissitudes of family organization after a family member becomes a hospitalized patient… [T]his book is welcome, and it should be recommended in particular to clinical psychiatrists, and others, who still see the symptoms of schizophrenia as some bold-from-the-genes, largely unrelated to interpersonal-familial and societal contexts.”
—R. D. Laing, American Sociological Review