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Berke, J.H. (2003). To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichman by Gail A. Hornstein. New York: The Free Press, 2000. Pp. xxxii+480. $35.. Free Associations, 10(4):505-508.

(2003). Free Associations, 10(4):505-508

To Redeem One Person is to Redeem the World: The Life of Frieda Fromm-Reichman by Gail A. Hornstein. New York: The Free Press, 2000. Pp. xxxii+480. $35.

Review by:
Joseph H. Berke

This is a terrific biography, very well written, meticulously researched, and highly relevant to countering the continuing mistreatment of psychotic patients.

As the book demonstrates, Frieda Fromm-Reichman was an intrepid pioneer in her willingness to engage and psychoanalyze very disturbed persons. Moreover, she threatened to revolutionize psychiatry by demonstrating, both in the 1920s in Heidelberg, Germany, and in the 1940s and 1950s, at Chestnut Lodge Hospital outside Washington, D.C., that it was possible to create a therapeutic ambience where ‘hopeless schizophrenics’ got better. So the book is not just the story of ‘Frieda’ but also about a world famous Centre about which Alfred Stanton and Morris Schwartz wrote in their definitive study, The Mental Hospital: A Study of Institutional Participation in Psychiatric Illness and Treatment. It is also about a huge cast of famous and innovative therapists including Erich Fromm (Frieda's husband), Harry Stack Sullivan (her mentor) and Harold Searles (her successor). Perhaps most tellingly, this book is about Frieda's patients, one of whom, Hannah Green, wrote a best-selling account of her breakdown and recovery entitled, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1964, under the name Joanne Greenberg).

I found the story of their collaboration moving on many levels, but especially because it might have become the Mary Barnes book of a previous generation. By ‘Mary Barnes’ book I refer to two accounts of a journey through madness from the dual perspective of the voyager and helper which Mary and I described in our study of the same name.

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