Book Review: Diary of Medical Student: Hospital of Horrors by: Harvey J. Widmore, M.D. with Ron Kenner



Publish Date:
May 6, 2010

From Publisher for Review

Trade Paperback

Order From: 
Amazon / Barnes & Noble

For most mentally ill patients the blue bus ride to Manteno State Hospital was a one way trip. The 24-hour-a-day nightmare of schizophrenic psychosis was horrible enough. But the added misery of indefinite living in a packed human warehouse was compounded by crude, frequently barbaric efforts at so-called treatment. Most of this was hidden from view.

Yet I knew all about it - because I was there. 

Review: Severely mentally ill people were warehoused at institutions in the 1950s and treated as sub-human. The author was a medical student who signed on as a research assistant at Manteno State Hospital when he witnessed shock treatments and worse. He felt helpless working in a system he could not change and so kept a diary of everything he saw and experienced. The author expresses that today, while the system is still not perfect, having the medications we do have greatly increased the ability of the mentally ill to manage their disease and live a normal life.

This is a book for those who are interested in the history of the treatment of America’s mentally ill population who were institutionalized for “their own good”.


  1. Wow this looks so interesting and intriguing. I'm in nursing school right now and these kinds of books definitely interest me! Thanks for the review. I'll look for this during my next trip to the library!


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