richard hallam

David's Box: The Diaries and Letters of a Young Man Diagnosed as
Schizophrenic, 1960-1971
Richard Hallam and Michael Bender, July 2011
Polpresa Press | ISBN 978-0-9560975-1-4 | Paperback | RRP £15.99


These edited journals of a highly intelligent young man document in painstaking detail what it was like to be diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1960s - the dehumanising attitudes, the inept prescription of drugs, and other shortcomings of mental health services. "David" eventually manages to sustain an unskilled job and move into a bedsitter but is now faced with goading from his fellow workers and social isolation. Giving up the job he hates and faced with a return to living in a half-way house, he calmly tells us why he made his final decision.



Book cover

The journals give an insight into the experience of madness that no textbook or retrospective account could supply. David was a fly on his own wall, attempting all along to make sense of his life, but barely succeeding. His perceptive observations inform us of the dilemmas that continue to challenge mental health professionals, and 'service users' today. For this reason, the authors have added a chapter on the changes to mental health services since 1970 and evaluate what progress has been made.

Richard Hallam and Michael Bender are clinical psychologists who worked in the UK National Health and Social Services in the late 1960s. They are both internationally recognised authors who have published many books in their own areas of expertise. In her foreword, Jacqui Dillon, Chair of the National Hearing Voices Network, England, introduces David's Box as an account of survival in adversity.

* Read extracts in the Guardian

* Advance reviews

"…a graphic and moving excellent complement to the library of professional, student or lay person interested in understanding the challenges faced in providing adequate and effective care for the seriously mentally ill." Glenn D Shean, PhD, Professor of Psychology, College of William & Mary, Virginia

"a fascinating insight into the nature of schizophrenia or psychosis, the mental hospital systems of the 1960s and the terrible toll that this condition can have on individuals and families...his difficulties with his family are all conveyed, movingly, through his own words."
Joanna Moncrieff, MD, Senior Lecturer in Social and Community Psychiatry, University College London

"...these skillfully edited diaries show yet again how much is to be learned from listening to people's own accounts of 'madness'... their tragic end raises the question of how much has changed."
Mary Boyle, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of East London


* Review in Mental Health Practice, November 2012

"This fascinating book is of great contemporary clinical relvance, and should be compulsory reading for student nurses and practising clinicians alike." Charley Baker, Lecturer in Mental Health, University of Nottingham


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