MHC professor hears those who hear voices

Gail Hornstein’s book, “Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness,” recounts the disguised forms of storytelling by the institutionalized.

By Xiomara Núñez '20

The experiences of those who suffer from psychiatric illness need to be heard. Gail Hornstein, professor of psychology and education at Mount Holyoke College, has been listening.

Hornstein has used her research to create a new model of human understanding to combat common misconceptions of mental illnesses. In her 2009 book, “Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness,” she unraveled psychological patients’ disguised messages.

She has revised and updated the ground-breaking book, which she will celebrate with a reception and book salon on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m., at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center.

The evening will include observations by Karen Remmler, professor of German studies and the chair of the department, and Marty Hadge from the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community who will offer academic and community-based perspectives on Hornstein’s work.

The book also discusses the Hearing Voices Network, an organization with which Hornstein is actively involved. The international collaboration that empowers individuals who hear voices to tell their stories rather than disenfranchise them.

“Hornstein attacks the stigma attached to mental illness with enormous originality and imagination,” noted “Asylum” author, Patrick McGrath. “She has brought into the light a true literature of protest.”

The event is co-sponsored by the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center and the departments of gender studies and psychology and education. Copies of the book will be for sale by the Odyssey Bookshop.