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I never promised you a rose garden by Joanne Greenberg (formally Hannah Green) book review

I never promised you a rose garden by Joanne Greenberg (formally Hannah Green)  I read this book in 2011

It took me quite a while to tackle this book – the first memoir of schizophrenia that I have tried.  It took a little getting used to, as it absorbs you straight into the world of the mentally unstable, hallucinations and all very well defined, but it was a masterpiece and I thoroughly enjoyed it, whilst learning a little about my own Mother’s possible symptoms at the same time.  It follows the other side of her story, through her parents – their thoughts, feelings and actions on their daughter’s hospitalisation and diagnosis, whilst the main feature is her experiences of her three year hospitalisation, showing key events that trigger an episode, description of the episode, and the treatment that was administered by the doctors and nurses and her psychiatrists dedicated psychotherapy techniques and conversations in trying to cure the schizophrenia.  She manages this, over a three year process, to the degree that the patient is able to leave the hospital, take qualifications and be accepted in a college.  Although submitted as a work of fiction, it is semi-autobiographical, and she used a different name initially, as her Mother wanted her to.  (although, since it was billed as fiction, I don’t know why she was bothered).  I really liked it, it gave me a real bite of what it is like to be schizophrenic and to live in two worlds – reality and fantasy with acute hallucinations.  Very good indeed and one of the first proof that talking therapies can help without medications.

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2 comments to I never promised you a rose garden by Joanne Greenberg (formally Hannah Green) book review

  • amandagreenauthor

    Hi Fiona, memoirs like this are a wonderful thing, and reading the mental health memoirs I have helped me to feel less alone, to learn about my illness and thoughts, and gave me hope for a better future. This one in particular, written such a long time ago, is perfect. I have much respect for the author. I am so pleased for you that it helped you and continues too – literature rocks! My mum suffered with catatonic schizophrenia and was in (and sometimes out) of psychiatric hosptials during the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, finally coming out once and for all when I was six in the very late seventies. All sorts went on in those hosptials which makes me very sad and thankfully we have better treatments now. Joanne Greenbergs story shows that ECT, ice baths etc were not always necessary as she benifited so well from talking therapy – we all need a support structure at the end of the day. I could ramble on and on but I won’t 🙂

  • Fiona Thompson

    I picked this book up at a second hand sale. At the time I was struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder and my symptoms included anorexia/bulimia and prolific self harm. This book is incredibly powerful and insightful and helped me understand some of the chaos inside, especially my mixed feelings towards psychiatric treatment and hospitalisation. It is still a book I come back to over and over again and have had to repair the spine frequently as it is now falling apart!

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