Dr. Babette Becker’s memoir I Should Have Been Music (Page Publishing, 2018) recounts her experience as a patient in four different mental hospitals from 1957 to 1960. It was a time when little was known about mental illness, except the shame and horror of it, and nothing was known about early childhood trauma. Passed from hospital to hospital carrying several severe classic diagnostic labels, she narrowly missed being sent to a State hospital where, if not for luck, she might have been incarcerated for the rest her life. The memoir follows her progress through these hospitals as well as the progress from psychosis to functioning adult. Along with her memories and journal entries from her time in the hospitals the book includes doctors' reports from each of the hospitals. These primary source materials reveal the stark contrast between the doctors' portrayal and the reality of Dr. Becker’s experience.
Christopher Russell is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Chelsea, Manhattan.