The book I Never Promised You a Rose Garden written by Joanne Greenberg describes the autobiographical story of illness, hospitalization, and convalescence of a sixteen-year old girl, sick with schizophrenia, who has left the reality and turned into a slave in an imaginary kingdom. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of the author. To describe her experiences, Greenberg has to clearly and vividly recall it.
At first the kingdom was her refuge and imaginary world that had a secret calendar, its language, and its characters. But over time, this underground world has become a terrifying reality. She became its prisoner without hope for the release. She could not see anything except the general outlines, gray colors on a gray background, without depth, flat, like in the picture.
The character of Dr. Fried is closely based on Greenberg’s real doctor Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, and the hospital on Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, Maryland. Even though at Chestnut Lodge, Greenberg described an imagery world called Iria to her doctors, citing poetry in the Irian language, some of her doctors though that this was not a true illusion but rather something Greenberg had made up right there at the moment in order to impress her psychiatrist. One doctor states that Irian was not even an actual language, but was a form of bastardized Armenian. Doctor Fromm-Reichmann wrote bright reports focusing on Greenberg’s creativity and genius, which she considered as signs of Greenberg’s inherent health, noting that she had every chance of recovering from her mental disease.
Greenberg was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which is exactly similar to what happened in the novel. At the time though, undifferentiated schizophrenia was often an indefinite diagnosis given to a patient or to medical records department for usually non-medical reasons, which could have included any number of mental diseases from anxiety to depression.
In an article in the New York Times, which was released in 1981, two psychiatrists examined the description of the character Blau in the book and claimed that she was not schizophrenic, but rather suffered from somatization disorder and extreme depression.
The book I Never Promised You a Rose Garden written by Joanne Greenberg describes the autobiographical story of illness, hospitalization, and convalescence of a sixteen-year old girl, sick with schizophrenia, who has left the reality and turned into a slave in an imaginary kingdom. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of the author.