“In a Victorian-era German asylum, seamstress Agnes Richter painstakingly stitched a mysterious autobiographical text into every inch of the jacket she created from her institutional uniform. Despite every attempt to silence them, hundreds of other patients have managed to get their stories out, at least in disguised form, and so it continues today. A vast gulf exists between the way medicine explains psychiatric illness and the experiences of those who suffer. Hornstein’s brilliant work helps us to bridge that gulf, guiding us through the inner lives of those diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar illness, depression, and paranoia and emerging with nothing less than a new model for understanding so-called ‘mental illness’, one another and ourselves. One which asks not ‘what’s wrong with you’ but ‘what happened to you and how did you manage to survive?’”

Professor Gail A. Hornstein is Professor of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts, USA). Her written works are used as a core text in psychoanalytic training by researchers, clinicians and educators around the world. Hornstein’s most recent book Agnes’ 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 reconceive fundamental assumptions about madness, treatment and mental life. It has recently been published in the UK, with a new introduction, by PCCS books.

From January – March 2012, Professor Hornstein is a visiting fellow of the Durham Institute of Advanced Study in connection with the Hearing the Voice Project. She will be presenting a range of seminars and lectures during her time in the UK. To find out more, click here.


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