This most excellent book is both sad and fascinating at the same time. I could hardly put it down. In fact, I have started writing stories about each of the people featured in the book, using fiction to fill in the gaps that nonfiction couldn’t find answers for. The authors do a wonderful job of painting ten portraits of people who spent decades of their lives in a state hospital for the mentally ill. Using the items found in their long abandoned suitcases along with interviews from a few staff members and medical records, the authors try to piece together the life of each person before and during their stay at Willard State Hospital in New York. Along with the chapters on the individuals, the authors provide interesting factual information about what it took to admit someone to such a place, how they were treated during their stay, and what the diagnoses were at the time. The book focuses on the early part of the 20th century, before deinstitutionalization became a way of doing business. The ease with which an individual could be locked away for decades of his or her life is staggering. I hope that by writing more about these individuals I can do some justice to their lives, which would have been forgotten had it not been for Penney and Stastny.
Western culture has long sidelined compassion as the province of the saintly or the overly naive. To our great detriment, we have overlooked one of our most powerful inner resources for creating a life of happiness and contentment. In The Lost Art of Compassion, clinical psychologist and longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Lorne Ladner rescues compassion from the margins, and demonstrates its direct and powerful benefits for our day-to-day lives. Until recently Western psychology focused almost exclusively on working with unhealthy emotions and relationships, turning very little of its research or expertise toward understanding positive emotional states. While interest in positive psychology is just dawning in the West, the cultivation of compassion has been a cornerstone of Tibetan Buddhism, studied and developed for over a thousand years. The Lost Art of Compassion is the first book to incorporate the Tibetan Buddhist teachings most suited to Westerners and provides a crucial perspective that is sorely lacking in Western psychology. Bringing together the best contributions of psychology and Buddhism, Dr. Ladner bridges the gap between East and West, theory and practice, in this user-friendly guide for getting through each day with greater contentment and ease. The Lost Art of Compassion offers ten methods for cultivating joy and contentment, bringing directly applicable wisdom to everyday situations. The result is a highly practical, engaging guide that weaves together these two disciplines and encourages readers to reclaim this neglected path to happiness.