Bettie Page passed away last night after suffering a bout of pneumonia and a heart attack last week.
The popular pinup model was from an era when the media still found curves attractive, the Internet didn’t even exist much less house Web site after Web site of the bondage and other fetish-related materials Page was known for, and mental illness was still a widely misunderstood mystery.
Page reportedly suffered from a “nervous breakdown” after her second marriage ended in the 1970s, as well as depression and other mental health issues such as schizophrenia throughout her life. To my understanding, Page spent some of her out-of-the-spotlight time in Patton State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in San Bernardino, California.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not insinuating there was anything wrong with Patton State Hospital’s mental health care over two decades ago; I’m merely saying that mental health care in the 50s, 60s, and 70s wasn’t quite what it is today.
From Ann Palmer’s “20th Century History of the Treatment of Mental Illness: A Review”:
In the 1960s and 1970s, the antipsychiatry movement gained momentum. It was a resurgence of critical thought and expression regarding psychiatric illness. Proponents contended mental illness is not medical, but has its roots in social, political and legal areas. Researchers, writers and protestors firmly believed that psychiatric illness is purely a social construct (Shorter, 1997, p. 274). Here, sociologists (and others) offered their critiques and demanded the deconstruction of psychiatric illness with the intent of liberating individuals from the stigma of being labeled pathological. The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz was widely popular.
The myth of mental illness? Hard times.
For more on Page, visit the Betty Page Memorial (WARNING: some nudity) and REAL Bettie Page TV Interview – Her Life In Her OWN Words, a YouTube copy of a 1997 TV interview with entertainment reporter Tim Estiloz.
Image Source: Wikipedia (edited)