The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic
By Darby Penney and Peter Stastny Photographs by Lisa Rinzler

"a stunning achievement [that]...illuminates the tragedy of our treatment of those with mental and emotional problems." - Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America

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Praise for the book

Based on almost 10 years of historical detective work, Peter Stastny and Darby Penney have written about the lives of 10 people who were committed to Willard State Hospital in New York's Finger Lakes during the first half of the 20th century. Starting with the belongings left behind in these individuals' suitcases, the authors sifted through collections of photographs, old letters, diaries, archives, and personal mementos to uncover who these people were before they disappeared for decades behind the institution's walls. They were artists, soldiers, musicians, teachers, nurses, laborers, and skilled craftsmen who led active, complicated, even fascinating lives before pain, loss, peculiar beliefs, ill-health, poverty, spiritual distress, unseen voices and circumstance intervened. The resulting volume is a fully illustrated social history, a moving-and devastating-group portrait of 20th century American psychiatric care.

Darby Penney is a leader in the human rights movement for people with psychiatric disabilities. Peter Stastny is a psychiatrist and documentary filmmaker. Lisa Rinzler is a prize-winning cinematographer.

Published by Bellevue Literary Press, New York

Publication Date: January 2008 Price: $25 Hardcover ISBN: 978-934137-07-9