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Books in brief: The Last Asylum

Alcoholism, narcotics and psychoanalysis in memoir form.

By Lisa Appignanesi   February 2014

The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in our Times by Barbara Taylor (Viking, £18.99)

While writing her PhD in the late 70s, Barbara Taylor, then a promising young feminist historian, was overcome by “a lightless misery,” accompanied by fatigue, unremitting insomnia, and a rising sense of panic. After having successfully sat her viva, the symptoms grew worse. Her GP prescribed pills. She found drink—a lot of it—helped. She also went into psychoanalysis. She explored her past and re-lived versions of it. The person she eventually encountered on chair,…

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