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April 2, 1982

A Mind That Found Itself: An Autobiography

JAMA. 1982;247(13):1877-1878. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320380069042

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This account by Clifford Beers of his psychiatric illness and consequent dedication to changing the conditions of care for the mentally ill is well known and established as a classic in its field. Its reprinting now, for the 41st time, is welcome in keeping the work readily available. The wisdom contained in its bare 200 pages for both laymen and professionals cannot be touched on in this review.

In 1900, at age 24, Beers experienced his first psychotic depression, beginning a lifelong struggle with manic-depressive illness (now termed bipolar affective disorder). While this catamnesis can be read with great profit by the psychiatrist, Beers' depiction of the inhumanity dealt a mental patient has considerable relevance to the political and social forces shaping the care of the mentally ill today. It is safe to say that the more overt forms of patient abuse experienced by Beers and fellow patients in mental