In my earlier blog on Dr Abraham Low’s recovery technique, I had promised that I would be writing a blog on his biography My Dear Ones, the Marathi translation, of which, I was reading. Then, here it is.
Despite the book being in Marathi, I have chosen to write this review in English, as the original book is in English. The translation is by Kamalini Phadke and is recently published by mental health awareness related organization which I support called SAA. This is biographical work introducing his life and work to readers. The original English is written by Neil and Margaret Rau in 1971. SAA bringing this book in Marathi is significant. I also know that SAA is working on getting Low’s book such as Mental Health Through Will Training to Marathi.
The book describes how Dr Low developed a thought process of treating persons with mental illness(PMI) which was very different from Freud. It also shows the process of he developing spotting technique. It also takes a review of how Recovery International was formed. The PMIs who were troubled after short spell of wellness after electroconvulsive therapy(ECT), had come together along with Dr Low to form the organization. That gave birth to concept of self-help support groups(SHSG) which a group therapy. During these weekly SHSG meetings, he used to facilitate members to learn spotting techniques and self-instruction. He used to stop the weekly sessions, by saying ‘bye bye my dear ones’. This is where the title of this book comes from. The book also vividly narrates the protest he received about his thoughts from his fellow practitioners. Does not this happen to any path-breaking thought? I had read novel in Marathi on life and work of Dr Albert Ellis some time back. He also had faced similar wrath about his views. The book has narrations of experiences from various PMIs who were part of SHSG that were facilitated by Dr Low. After his death, due to his wife’s efforts, the recovery method got further boost and also it got acceptance from the American Psychiatric Association(APA).
The earlier chapters in the book describes his studies, and also migration to USA. He was Jewish by origin, born and brought up in Europe. Like many, post first world war, he also moved to USA. The description of his early days after he arrived in New York reminded me of book on funny story of Russian migrant titled Any Thing Can Happen.
I always wondered as to why Dr Low and Dr Ellis never met or never acknowledged each other’s works. There was certainly some overlap during their lives. In fact, Dr Ellis’ work Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy(REBT) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy(CBT) seems to have some roots in Dr Low’s thoughts around will training and traces of aspects of CBT. I found interesting discussion on this blog on the same topic. Nonetheless, the biography of Dr Low, My Dear Ones, is certainly a good read to understand some of the early work on mental health treatment’s history. And is aptly translated in Marathi also, which is a welcome addition world of Marathi literature.