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Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

by Maggie O'Farrell

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2007, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

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Beyond the Book

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  • The events in The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox are based on a real British policy which deinstitutionalized thousands of psychiatric patients beginning in 1990. Margaret Thatcher's Care in the Community program sought to end outmoded, Victorian-era mental institutions by releasing such patients back into their homes, their illnesses controlled by medication and individualized treatment rather than confinement. The program ended in 1998 after a series of highly-publicized crimes by former inmates. The British health secretary recalled many patients who were living without supervision and placed them back into residential treatment centers.
  • Mental institutions were a humane advance in the early 19th century, when the treatment of mentally ill people evolved from brutal imprisonment and restraint to the creation of a homelike environment within a health-care setting. Yet the 19th century also took a step backward in its treatment ...

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