It's always amazing to me to see all the connections that happen in my reading. I've just read and reviewed Transformations by Anne Sexton, which is a poetry collection in which she transforms seventeen Grimm's fairy tales. A little reading about Sexton's life reveals a talented but troubled woman. She eventually committed suicide in 1974. Before that, I read Speaking of Love by Angela Young, which deals with another form of mental illness, schizophrenia. Now I come across this review of Lisa Appignanesi's nonfiction book, which deals with the fact that many women in the past have been diagnosed with mental illness for simply being nonconformist. I love the following quote.
"It seems that as soon as society relinquished witchcraft as the crime for which to punish an overtly liberated woman, it settled on madness as the reason to incarcerate her. As Appignanesi observes, “Patients could well find themselves the victims of a doctor’s prejudice about what kind of behavior constituted sanity: this could all too easily work against women who didn’t conform to the time’s norms of sexual behavior or living habits.”
So in the span of a couple weeks, I've read a poetry collection, a debut novel and read a review of a nonfiction book that all deal with women and mental illness in one form or another. That's one of the reasons that I love reading -- you just never know where books will take you.