Friday, November 11, 2016

A Break with Reality

The cover of the pamphlet, colored yellow with a interesting woodcut border and the full title of the text along with a brief abstract of its contents.
Never has a text seemed more relevant than this particular one does today. Entitled "A Secret Worth Knowing: A Treatise on the Most Important Subject in the World, Simply to Say, Insanity," this 95-page pamphlet was written by Green Grimes, an inmate of the Lunatic Asylum of Tennessee in 1846. In this fascinating little book, Grimes recounts his experiences that led to what must have been a psychotic break. After his father remarried when Grimes was fourteen, his older brother, Grimes's only confidant and protector, was driven away from the house by the new wife. On the brother's journey to his new apprenticeship with a local parson, he drowned while crossing a river. This initial trauma was followed by many other significant events which ultimately led to Grimes's breakdown and admittance to the insane asylum. In the introduction, Grimes notes that his goal for writing this book is twofold: to be a practical resource for others and to raise a small amount of money to provide for his five orphaned children.

After recounting his own story, Grimes goes on to describes many examples of insanity that he has
A woodcut image of the author, seated while wearing a jacket, waistcoat, and necktie and clutching a wooden walking cane and looking directly at the reader.
encountered or heard about during his lifetime, delineates the process by which people go insane, and then takes great pains to differentiate between insanity and "idiotism." Throughout his work, he attempts to encourage his readers who have family members suffering from mental illness by providing advice about how to care for and watch over their loved ones. Finally, he concludes by saying, "There is, perhaps, nothing short of the goodness of God that can effect a final cure of my disease. I am perfectly resigned to His will, and await his final coming and decision with hope."

To examine this subject, please come to Rauner and ask for Rare RC464 .G756 1846.

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