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Badaracco, M.R. (1975). These Are My Sisters, by Lara Jefferson, Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1974, 238 pages, $7.95. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(2):187-189.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(2):187-189

Book Reviews

These Are My Sisters, by Lara Jefferson, Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1974, 238 pages, $7.95

Review by:
Marie R. Badaracco, M.D.

Lara Jefferson is a pseudonym. It is sad that we can not know and carry about with us, as I would like to do, the real name of the real human being who produced this remarkable work. Other books have been written about the experience of psychosis by participants and observers alike, but this work clearly distinguishes itself. “A journal from the inside of insanity,” it was written not after the event and not as a record, but as the therapeutic work itself.

What we are told about the writer is that she lived in the Midwest and is dead. What she tells us about herself is that she became an inmate in a state mental hospital where she saw looming before her the threat of her own complete psychic dissolution and the possibility that she might become destructive to others as well as to herself. She recognized that “It is just up to me - the power of life within me. There is nothing another can do to help me. The job is mine.” She faced that overwhelming pain that necessitates expression and requires being listened to. She could thus understand and, from her record of it, attend to the ravings of her fellow inmates in the basement ward to which they had “sunk,” but for herself she chose the discipline of listening to and writing down the experience within her and around her. The keeping of this journal was thus the therapy itself, a therapy that she pursued in the midst of chaos and commotion with the stub of a pencil, writing at first on the backs of envelopes.

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