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Selected M.E. Grenander Materials:
The fourfold way: Determinism, moral responsibility, and Aristotelean causation.
[Note: This review was donated to the Szasz Site by M.E. Grenander shortly before her death. Copyright Political Psychology, 1985.]
The Therapeutic State: Psychiatry in the Mirror of Current Events. By Thomas Szasz. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y.; 1984, 360 pp., $22.95 cloth, $10.95 paper.
The Reign of Error: Psychiatry, Authority, and Law. By Lee Coleman. Beacon Press, Boston; 1984, 300 pp. + xvi, $18.95.
The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secret of St. Elizabethıs. By E. Fuller Torrey. McGraw Hill Book Company, New York; 1984, 339 pp. + xx, $19.95.
Although psychiatry is in parlous straits, its extensive state - granted powers continue to endanger the constitutional safeguards of society. Every American who is concerned about the deterioration of our criminal justice system to its current shambles of official lawlessness should read all three of these books, which go far to explain how we have arrived at our current impasse. Each one, written with verve and flair by an M.D. who is also a psychiatrist, describes in detail administrative perversions of justice implemented by members of the authorsı own profession. However, they bring differing perspectives to the anomalies they present which stem in part from their distinctive orientations to psychiatry. Dr. Szasz, who is also a psychoanalyst, is a professor in the Upstate Medical Center of the State University of New York in Syracuse. Dr. Coleman, in private practice in northern California, directs the Center for the Study of Psychiatric Testimony in Berkeley. Dr. Torrey is on the staff of St. Elizabethıs Hospital, the federal insane asylum in Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, since certain themes are woven like scarlet threads through all three books, the reader is greatly assisted in interpreting any one of them by reading the other two. Of the authors, Thomas Szasz is probably the most instantly recognizable to readers of this journal. Dean of the critics of involuntary psychiatry, he stood almost alone when he began his analysis and description of what institutional psychiatrists were actually doing beneath their mantle of benevolent medicalized rhetoric. Now, 25 years later, his pioneering insights have permeated our zeitgeist. Those who have never read a word he has written are familiar with his name and spout his carefully articulated ideas as if they were self - evident truths. Far from resenting this development, he is, I suspect, rather pleased at the way things have turned out. This - his 18th book - is a collection of occasional pieces and book reviews culled from newspapers, magazines, and professional journals, all reprinted in their original form, plus two previously unpublished essays, with each sketch being self - contained and very short. It is a great advantage for the student of our culture to have these brief items readily accessible between covers. And since they are contemporary with the episodes they describe, their freshness and immediacy make them, as the subtitle indicates, a "mirror of current events" so far as psychiatry is concerned. Because the volume can be opened almost at random and read at any point, it would make an excellent bedside or guest room book. But the coherence and consistency of Szasz's thinking continue to command respect and admiration. These short pieces, which appeared from 1965 to 1983, have in common an examination of the observable professional habits of psychiatrists (which are frequently at variance with their ostensible aims) in mental hospitals and courts of law. The essays are grouped under seven major rubrics: "mental illness," mental health policy, the insanity defense, psychiatry and politics, psychiatry in the Soviet Union, drugs, and sex. Since each gathering includes from 5 to 16 sketches (most have 10 or more) they defy easy summary. Nevertheless, a few can be singled out for special mention and some generalizations can be made. Szasz, who was also trained as a physicist and brings the rigor of the hard sciences to his investigations, contends that both the medical and the psychosocial models of "mental illness," which can be neither defined nor demonstrated, are pseudoscientific oversimplifications. Both fail to recognize that human problems are not diseases, but the consequences of conflicting personal aspirations involving moral values and social controls, with consequent misery and unrest, aggression and suffering. Introducing psychiatry into the courtroom confuses these issues. A paradigmatic example of the "therapeutic state" is the unholy alliance between government and medicine to deprive the citizen of his free choice to use, buy, or sell certain substances which are not officially sanctioned. Szasz is universally recognized, even by his harshest critics, as one of the great contemporary masters of style in the English language. His brief "Dialogue on Drugs" between Socrates and Hippocrates is not only an acute examination of the issue of so - called "drug addiction"; it also captures perfectly the dialectic method and the Platonic style. This little gem deserves to become a classic, meriting inclusion in handbooks of rhetoric and composition as a model of its kind. Szasz and Coleman both analyze the insanity defense and its variants like "brainwashing" and "diminished responsibility," discussing such notorious cases as those involving John Hinckley, Patty Hearst, and Dan White. Szasz has always been known for his pithy apothegms, and two of the most memorable occur in his discussion of Patty Hearst's supposed "brainwashing," which he dismisses as a misleading metaphor: "A person can no more wash another's brain with coercion or conversation than he can make him bleed with a cutting remark.... Trying to ascertain whether Patty Hearst has been brainwashed by having her examined by psychiatrists is like trying to ascertain whether holy water is holy by having it examined by priests." Lee Coleman's book, which is in the Szaszian tradition, is tightly organized and extensively documented. Although it is a scathing indictment of the practices he abhors, its tone is temperate and judicious. He recognizes the help that psychotherapy can give to a troubled individual who seeks it out, but is adamantly opposed to state - imposed psychiatry for two reasons. First, even though psychiatrists are initially trained as physicians and are taught to use medical interventions frequently on patients who do not want them - psychiatry is not a science and does not have the tools society thinks it has. Second, the problems psychiatry is called on to solve are not medical problems, but ethical and political ones. The author has testified in over 130 criminal trials, but always to the effect that psychiatrists have no special skills enabling them to read the defendant's mind; judge and jury should rely on factual evidence concerning mental intent. In Coleman's view, society is at fault for giving psychiatry the power to deal with four hidden agendas it is not equipped to handle. First, we pretend that involuntary psychiatric treatment is for the good of the patient, when in fact it is a convenient device for allowing a troublesome individual to be separated from his family without leaving them feeling guilty. Second, we rely on psychiatry to protect us from violent individuals, failing to acknowledge that it has no tools for predicting dangerous behavior. Third, we evade the responsibility for making difficult ethical decisions by acting as if they involve psychoses rather than moral issues. And fourth, we preserve the illusion of a free and tolerant society by dealing with disturbing people according to psychiatric procedures that are fundamentally different from the rules of criminal justice. Both Szasz and Coleman discuss the blatant perversion of justice that resulted from the use of psychiatric testimony at John Hinckley's trial. Coleman analyzes how such a travesty could come about by a detailed examination of the insanity defense - which he calls "storytelling on the witness stand" - and its consequences. Both judge and jury may recognize it for the charade it is; under existing law, however, they are powerless to do anything about it. The solution must come from legislators. Coleman recommends that, instead of fiddling with the present system, they bar all psychiatric testimony from the courtroom, establishing mens rea solely on factual evidence. Banning psychiatric speculation from the courtroom and assigning definite punishments on the basis of the severity of the crime would also end such miscarriages of justice as the "diminished capacity" defense, a further extension of psychiatry's forensic empire. The most notorious instance was the case of Dan White, who shot San Francisco's Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Both Coleman and Szasz trace the diminished capacity defense back to its origins in 1957. It was the brain child of Dr. Bernard Diamond, professor of psychiatry and law at the University of California at Berkeley, who has admitted committing perjury in the courtroom in seeking a way for psychiatry to stick its nose under the forensic tent when legal insanity was not involved. According to Szasz, "Diamond is not the least interested in justice - and... he says so. What he is interested in is treatment - that is, in medicalizing law, crime, and punishment." Even more bizarre than the insanity and diminished capacity defenses are those cases in which the accused is never brought to trial at all because of psychiatric testimony that he is incompetent. Since the result is his incarceration in an asylum, he is, in effect, judged as guilty and imprisoned without ever having had his day in court. This is what happened to Ezra Pound. But the procedure is patently unjust; society never has the opportunity to establish the guilt of the defendant, and the accused never has an opportunity to establish his innocence. Psychiatrists frequently ignore the legal basis for incompetence to stand trial: inability to understand the charges and to assist one's lawyer in preparing a defense. Instead, they often base their findings on whether they think the accused will benefit from psychiatric treatment. Involuntary commitment leads, in most cases, to involuntary treatment, which psychiatrists alone among physicians have the authority to impose. Coleman feels strongly that mental patients should have the right to refuse treatment, and that this right should be made meaningful. One of the outstanding features of this generally excellent book is his explicit discussion of the actual treatments foisted on mental patients - lobotomies; insulin, metrazol, and electric shock treatments; and psychoactive drugs - and their physical and psychological consequences. Like Szasz, Coleman also describes the Army and CIA experiments on unsuspecting human guinea pigs which resulted in at least one death. These experiments, which caused a scandal when they came to light and were publicized in 1975, involved two highly placed and respected psychiatrists, Paul Hoch and D. Ewen Cameron. (Hoch - who was New York State Commissioner of Mental Hygiene from 1952 until his death in 1964 - also tried to torpedo Thomas Szasz's professorial post at Syracuse after the publication of The Myth of Mental Illness.) Coleman makes a telling point about both Hoch and Cameron: They had for years been conducting in the open, to professional acclaim, precisely the same kinds of experiments on powerless institutionalized mental patients that they were posthumously criticized for having done under secret government auspices. Szasz calls these influential psychiatrists "patriotic poisoners." As Coleman notes, the army and the CIA knew exactly where to turn for the architects of their undercover experiments simply from reading the professional journals. Both Szasz and Coleman believe that the massive deinstitutionalization of mental patients over the last 25 years owes less to the coincident widespread use of psychopharmacology than to federal support for community treatment and welfare payments for those released. Since the mental hospital is often an asylum for adults who cannot make it on their own in society, they should not be forcibly evicted any more than they should have been forcibly incarcerated. For many inhabitants, it has become the only home they know, providing them with room, board, and an escape from the day - to - day responsibilities of ordinary life. If it were demedicalized, it could be transformed into an inexpensive voluntary haven where non - medical personnel could give them more effective and far less expensive counselling, guidance, and support than psychiatrists. Nevertheless, in a classic example of the logical fallacy cum hoc propter hoc, "antipsychotic" medications are being credited with the movement of patients out of the state mental hospitals. Since such drugs do indeed exert a noticeable influence not only on the brain but also on the body, mainstream psychiatry is using their undoubted effect on behavior as evidence pointing to the imminent discovery that the major psychoses are biochemical in origin. Although this premise is a hope rather than a fact, it is being acted upon as if it were already proved. As Coleman points out, however, in the last analysis the issue is not whether mental disorders are medical diseases; it is the fact that in coercive psychiatry patients do not have the right to reject the treatment forced upon them. Perhaps the most shameful of the psychiatric abuses Coleman recites are those affecting children and adolescents involved with our juvenile justice system, which operates according to a blatant double standard. Girls who are guilty of "status offenses" solely because of their age are treated more harshly than adults, while boys guilty of rape, armed robbery, and murder are treated much less harshly. Coleman attributes this shocking sexism to the myth that denies punishing either boys or girls: both are being "treated" for the psychiatric disorder that caused their behavior. He recommends setting up two completely distinct systems, but without the intervention of psychiatric evaluation in either one. A child custody system would care for children who have been abandoned or mistreated and who genuinely need the decent care of the state as parent. On the other hand, juvenile offenders who have committed actual crimes should be dealt with as criminals through a separate juvenile justice system. We need not apologize for punishing young lawbreakers openly and honestly; our social order requires it. Coleman's book is carefully documented with references to legal and psychiatric professional journals, state and federal government findings, and court cases, as well as many anecdotes from his own experience. His bibliography includes not only such classic writers as Thomas Szasz, Erving Goffman, and Michel Foucault, but also many authors he disagrees with, for books which have been highly regarded in the psychiatric profession are "filled with the most fantastic theories of and remedies for mental disorder." As he says, "I know of no better way to understand the horror experienced by many institutionalized mental patients" than a careful reading of such books. His extensive research leads to the recommendation in his concluding chapter that our mental health system should be "totally voluntary ... ) completely separate from any state power and from the criminal justice system and the courts." Such a separation would mean that "the criminal justice system would do a better job of law enforcement, the courts would do a better job of deciding civil and criminal questions, and psychiatry would finally be free to offer honest and voluntary services to those who want help." Writers have not fared well at the hands of psychiatrists; Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams come immediately to mind. But their experiences pale beside those which involved Ezra Pound, the great 20th - century expatriate poet whose radio broadcasts in Italy during World War II led to his indictment for treason. Leaving the broad panorama of state - imposed psychiatry that both Szasz and Coleman paint with sweeping strokes, one turns to the cameo of Torrey's book. Although it is etched in painstaking detail, some Pound scholars may not find it a very recognizable likeness of its subject. It includes a few trivial errors: Hilaire Belloc's first name is misspelled, H. V. Kaltenborn is given the wrong middle initial, and a bawdy (and hoary) limerick is called a "sonnet." These mistakes, however, are of no great significance. The fundamental problem is that Torrey is what literary theorists call an "unreliable narrator." The fallibility of his account stems from his conceptualization of the administrative relationship between forensic psychiatry and the law. Torrey nowhere questions the system exemplified by the failure to bring Ezra Pound to trial. Instead, he takes his stand on the premise that, according to the opinion of most psychiatrists, Pound was not "insane"; Winfred Overholser alone publicly took the opposite point of view, although in doing so he betrayed his own criteria. Indeed, Torrey even holds Pound himself responsible for getting caught in the trap of forensic psychiatry and failing to chew his leg off. It is as if one of the judges in the Salem witchcraft trials who upheld the concept of demonic possession had written an account of a victim who was hanged, blaming her for the fact that, acting under overwhelming pressure from her accusers and supporters alike, she had "confessed" to being a witch. The context Torrey has given his narrative provides him with a convenient villain and dramatic conflict. But it has led to some curious consequences. I am not the first reviewer to remind him that, under Anglo - American law, a defendant is presumed innocent until proved guilty. This point cannot be insisted upon too much. A growing body of evidence - much of it adduced by Torrey himself - indicates that Pound probably would not have been convicted of the crime for which he was indicted if he had been allowed to come to trial. The tragedy is that, although he was so famous that his case will continue to be scrutinized, many other individuals, obscure and unmourned, have suffered and are suffering the same fate. Torrey seems oblivious of that fact; we must turn to Szasz and Coleman for an understanding of the reasons why psychiatric speculation should be eliminated from our criminal justice system. The title of Torrey's book is thus a misnomer; more accurate, although not as mellifluous, would have been The Roots of an Indictment for Treason. And one is struck by the startling omission, from Torrey's otherwise dazzlingly complete bibliography, of Szasz's 1967 review - essay on the Pound case, which appeared in the Rutgers Law Review and is reprinted in The Therapeutic State. This omission is the more conspicuous given that Torrey's early book, The Death of Psychiatry (1974), had leaned heavily on Szasz's writings. However, his ideas have undergone a striking devolution over the last decade (Torrey, 1983). Where earlier he had wanted to forsake the medical model, he is now one of its leading advocates; it is his notion, for example, that schizophrenia is a viral disease; he looks eagerly forward to the day when - he thinks - it will be diagnosed by testing blood and spinal fluid. And he has made the astonishing admission that he himself sometimes stretches the truth in courts of law exactly as Overholser had done in the Pound case. Moreover, he is strongly in favor of allowing psychiatrists to give involuntary mental patients involuntary treatment. As a further consequence of his orientation, at least one reviewer (Chace, 1984) has questioned his ethics in violating patient - physician confidentiality by publishing the contents of Pound's psychiatric file. What Chace failed to recognize is that none of the psychiatrists involved were in any sense Ezra Pound's psychiatrists; he was always an involuntary subject of their ministrations, not only in St. Elizabeth's but later in Italy after his release. The relationship, therefore, was not one between physician and patient, but between oppressor and oppressed. On this issue, therefore, I would defend Torrey, although not perhaps for reasons that would please him: the more wraps we can remove from involuntary psychiatry the better we can deal with it. And I am certainly not prepared to go as far as the reviewer (Eaves, 1984) who dismisses "Dr. Torrey's book [as] an irresponsible one that no scholar of Pound or of the period can take seriously." Despite its limitations, it deals with a significant and highly controversial aspect of Pound's life which increasingly demands attention. And in some ways it is an admirable book. My serious reservations concern Torrey's powers of critical analysis; his scholarship is superb. He has gone to unpublished sources in America's great research libraries. In addition, he has plumbed the files of St. Elizabeth's, the Army, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Justice; culled relevant books, newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals; corresponded with and talked to numerous individuals with first - hand knowledge of the events he describes; and tracked down successive editions of Pound's writings to see how they changed over the years. Often a portmanteau footnote cites a number of different sources for information he presents as a consensus. If an assertion has gained currency in scholarly circles but cannot be substantiated, Torrey indicates his failure to find any source which would validate it. Before looking at his substantive findings, however, it is useful to review Szasz's discussions of Ezra Pound's sacrifice on the altar of psychiatric power. They include a biting one - paragraph summary: "At the end of the war, American psychiatry lost no time demonstrating its usefulness to the country at peace. Ezra Pound, one of the greatest poets of his time, was indicted for treason - a charge he vehemently denied. Whether he was innocent or guilty of that crime, psychiatry spared the nation the need to undergo the political soul - searching that his trial would have generated. Prosecution and 'defense' conspired to declare Pound mentally unfit to stand trial, condemning him instead, without a trial, to serve a thirteen - year sentence in St. Elizabeth's Hospital, the nation's model psychiatric dungeon in Washington, D.C. Pound's jailer was hailed as a great psychiatrist, the benefactor of Pound as well as the nation." Szasz's thoughtful review, published in 1967, antedated Torrey's book by a number of years, but despite its brevity is in some ways more trenchant in its analysis. Stating that Thurman Arnold, who was instrumental in securing Pound's release from St. Elizabeth's, flatly contradicted the claim that he had agreed to the insanity defense, Szasz raises "the possibility, if not probability," that he "could not have been convicted of treason, because his broadcasts were, in fact, not treasonous." Since he died without ever having been tried, we will never know. Szasz also discusses Pound's degradation subsequent to his departure from St. Elizabeth's. It is hard to disagree with his conclusion: "Those responsible for Pound's post - war fate - our legal system, our psychiatry, and especially the persons instrumental in depriving him of the opportunity to clear his name in court - have placed a black mark on the pages of contemporary American history." Torrey examines this psychiatric derailment of justice from his limited perspective. Although he traces Pound's career from his birth on October 30, 1885, in Hailey, Idaho, to his death at 87 on November 1, 1972, in Italy, Torrey breaks chronology to present, as his riveting first chapter, the horrifying tale of Pound's confinement in the American Army's Disciplinary Training Center just north of Pisa, Italy. Pound was brought here on May 24, 1945, when he was 59 years old, and remained until November 16. Incredibly, he began the Pisan Cantos - for which he was later awarded the Bollingen Prize - in these circumstances. (The notable Canto 81 from this series, often anthologized, has furnished the title for this review - essay.) When he walked out of the dispensary for the last time, he "'turned, and with a half - smile, put both hands around his neck to form a noose and jerked up his chin."' Thus Torrey concludes the first chapter in this fascinating story, Tolstoyan in its epic sweep, spanning as it does two world wars, most of the Western world, and a cast including some of the most famous characters of the 20th century. The remaining eight chapters begin with a flashback to Pound's early years and continue until his death in Venice. In the middle of the book are 12 splendid photographs, presenting a visual summary of his life from the time he was a handsome young poet in London, around 1913, to his appearance in Spoleto in July 1969, at the age of 84. It must be said at the outset that, however great a poet Pound was, and however dedicated his services to the many artists he helped, he was not an attractive human being. Precocious spoiled youngster, mediocre college and university student, failed academic after only 4 months in his first job, gullible adherent of half - baked theories of the occult (a trait he shared with his early idol, William Butter Yeats), offensive vulgarian, duplicitous lover, faithless husband, callous father, insulting friend - the depressing litany goes on and on. He was also an anti - Semite and, despite his numerous romantic liaisons, a male chauvinist. He was, moreover, economically dependent all his life: first on his parents, then on his in - laws, and finally on the very government he bitterly attacked. Arrogant, egotistical, and eccentric, he advocated government subsidies for artists at a time when William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, and T. S. Eliot all managed to support themselves. But having conceded all these flaws in his character, the student of human nature is finally brought up short before the ultimate mystery at the core of his being. This overbearing, conceited rake, boorish, occasionally cruel, and often ridiculous, was nevertheless the most influential literary figure of his time. He inspired passionate devotion in many women and lifelong loyalty in the most distinguished writers of the 20th century. And Torrey does a splendid job in bringing this amazing figure to life. After the harrowing portrayal of Pound in his Pisan prison cage awaiting transport back to Washington for a trial on charges of treason, the second chapter relaxes the tension by tracing his early years in Philadelphia, where his family moved after 2 years in Idaho, continuing through Pound's student years at Hamilton College and the University of Pennsylvania. Succeeding chapters are vivid descriptions of his expatriation in London, Paris, and Rapallo, Italy; his family life; his poetry; and his professional contacts with the greatest artists of his time, many of whose careers he advanced with selfless devotion. In Pound's own view, his two most important projects were a work of epic magnitude, his cantos, which he began in September 1915; and his study of political economy. The latter fueled his anti - Semitism, since he focused on international financiers, identifying them primarily with the Jews, regarding them as usurers, and holding them responsible for the world's ills, including wars. It also drew him eventually to the fascistic theories of Mussolini. When World War II broke out, he threw himself whole - heartedly into the fray on the side of the Axis, being on the payroll of Italy's Ministry of Popular Culture for writing slogans and broadcasting propaganda. On May 2, 1945, he was arrested by Italian partisans and turned over to the American authorities. After the horrors of his confinement in Pisa, he was flown to Washington and locked up. At a preliminary hearing on November 19, 1945, the judge denied his request to act as his own attorney because the charges against him were so serious. Plans for an insanity defense, meanwhile, were being put together by a group of his friends; of the entire network, apparently only Archibald MacLeish and Eliot had reservations about it. James Laughlin, Pound's publisher, pursued it vigorously, enlisting the services of a young lawyer, Julien Cornell. At this point in Torrey's version, Pound's life ceases to be high tragedy and becomes farce. Cornell decided to have him declared unfit to cooperate in his own defense instead of bringing him to trial and pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. To this end, it was necessary that he be examined by psychiatrists who would then testify as to his mental state. Of the four psychiatrists involved, three for the prosecution and one for the defense, only Winfred Overholser - renowned superintendent of St. Elizabeth's - had any real professional weight, and he was easily able to sway the others to his position, which was that Pound should be adjudged insane and incapable of standing trial. The contrary judgment of St. Elizabeth's' young staff psychiatrists was more than overbalanced by the single entry in his hospital record by Overholser himself, who seems to have excised from the file all his other comments. None of Overholser's juniors dared to differ publicly with their authoritarian chief. He had too much power over their future careers for them to challenge his opinion, and he was known as an autocrat who swiftly and decisively punished any subordinate who stepped out of line. According to Torrey, Pound, too, had done an abrupt flip - flop and was playing along with Cornell's strategy. He contributed his own exotic diagnosis, claiming that he had "a queer sensation in the head" as though the upper third of his brain were missing, with fluid floating on what remained. This whimsical symptom was consistent with the notion he had long held that his brain was a "great clot of genital fluid." On December 14 the four psychiatrists officially agreed that he was paranoid and mentally unfit for trial; they presented their findings at Pound's sanity hearing on February 13, 1946. "Paranoid state" was probably chosen as the diagnosis because it was vague enough to stand up in court; certainly the symptoms ascribed to Pound bore little relation to those Overholser was using to describe paranoia in a textbook on psychiatry he was writing at the time. The jury deliberated only 3 min before reaching the verdict that Pound was of "unsound mind," and he remained incarcerated in St. Elizabeth's. The Department of Justice had secured his imprisonment without ever having to bring him to trial. According to Torrey, Pound's friends - and perhaps even Pound himself - felt his life had been saved. The fact that Dr. Overholser, one of the most revered figures in American psychiatry, had committed perjury to achieve these ends went unremarked. After all, he had lied under oath - or "exaggerated," as Torrey delicately puts it - "with the best of intentions." Here it becomes necessary to comment on the subtitle of Torrey's book. The "secret" of St. Elizabeth's was so open that it has never involved any mystery at all. Although Pound was eccentric, bigoted, and conceited (as indeed he had been all his life), he was not in any legal sense insane, and he was certainly fully competent to cooperate in his own defense. He and Cornell had thought he would be released from St. Elizabeth's after only a few months and could then return to Italy. But they had failed to realize that, once set in motion, the mills of institutional psychiatry grind slowly, and they grind exceeding small. Cornell's further legal maneuvers were unsuccessful, and Pound was to remain at St. Elizabeth's for 12 1/2 years. The detailed account at this point of the delights of Pound's life there - a subject on which Torrey waxes almost lyrical - is no substitute for an examination of the social and ethical significance of his martyrdom. It must be admitted, however, that, in Dr. Overholser, Pound seemed to have found what he had been seeking all his life: a powerful authority figure who would shelter him from the vicissitudes of everyday life, including earning a living, at the same time indulging his whims and paying respectful attention to his poetry and to his ideas (Overholser's undergraduate Harvard degree had been in economics, with honors). Pound had never been able to get very close to Mussolini, despite his best efforts; he did much better with il duce of St. Elizabeth's, where he remained until May 6, 1958. After his release he sailed for Italy accompanied by his wife, Dorothy (his legal guardian, since he was technically incompetent), and a young woman named Marcella Spann, who traveled with him as his "secretary." Both his departure and his arrival in Naples were well - publicized media events. But time had moved ahead in Italy, now a republic, while Pound's political universe was static: he greeted Italy anachronistically by thrusting his arm forward in the Fascist salute (pictured in Torrey's book). For a few months he seemed like his vitriolic old self, continuing to write poetry and numerous letters. Increasingly, however, as he became more and more a relic of the past, doubts began to assail him: about his cantos, about his political and economic beliefs, about his fateful decision to avoid a treason trial by hiding behind the mask of insanity. That decision, at long last, was bringing him up against the seamy underside of psychiatry. And once again the limitations of Torrey's frame of reference become apparent. His conclusion is problematic. He accepts without question what happened to Pound at the hands of European psychiatrists - which seems to have been far worse than what happened to him in St. Elizabeth's - because he was "seriously depressed," with a "narcissistic and cyclothymic personality disorder." Falling back on this psychiatric jargon, Torrey seems not at all disturbed by the fact that Pound was involuntarily committed to a Merano clinic in April 1961. He was given psychoactive drugs, and one wonders whether this "treatment" was also involuntary. Buried in a footnote is the information that, according to undocumented rumors in psychiatric circles, he was also given electroshock treatments. If this was so, a comparison of Pound's symptoms with Dr. Coleman's description of the aftermath of electroshock raises the question of how much of Pound's mental state in Italy was the result of a tragic awareness of his own shortcomings and how much was the result of iatrogenic neurological impairment. Since he was given mind - altering drugs - possibly against his will - it is not surprising that a mind as finely tuned as his should have been altered. Pound's unavailing pleas to Dr. Overholser in the letters he wrote him from Italy, asking whether it was not possible to get out from under Dorothy's legal guardianship and become his own man, are pathetic in the extreme. Like a dolphin caught in a monofilament net, the more he struggled to extricate himself from the web of forensic psychiatry, the more cruelly entangled he became. He was foolish enough to ask Marcella to marry him during a trip to Lake Garda in which they were accompanied by Dorothy, who intervened and sent Marcella back to the United States. Pound's commitment followed less than 2 years later. He broke with Dorothy; although Torrey does not explain why, her turning him over to psychiatrists who lacked Overholser's sensitivity to his plight could well have accounted for his animus against her. In early 1962 his long - time mistress, Olga Rudge, rescued him from a rest home and took him to live with her, part of each year in Venice, part in Rapallo. He and Dorothy became completely estranged; he saw her only twice during the 4 years before he died. In his last decade, plagued by physiological deterioration and facing honestly his own hubris, he achieved the tragic grandeur of an aging Lear. He told Allen Ginsberg in 1967 that his "worst mistake" had been "that stupid, suburban prejudice of anti - Semitism." And 2 months before he died - on November 1, 1972, at the age of 87 - he said, "What's done cannot be undone.... I was wrong." Conceivably he glimpsed the moral universe evoked in lines from "Sailing to Byzantium," the famous poem by his early idol, William Butler Yeats: An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress. REFERENCES Chace, W. M. (1984). Conspiracy at St. Elizabeth's. The Sciences 24: 62-66. Eaves, T. C. Duncan (1984). Review. Am. Lit. 56: 447- 449. Torrey, E. Fuller (1974). The Death of Psychiatry, Chilton Book Company, Radnor, Pennsylvania. Torrey, F. Fuller (1983). Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual, Harper and Row, New, York. M. E. Grenander State University of New York at Albany Albany, New York