Earlier in June we spent some time with our friends in
“Ah, that wonderful dark picture,” Andrew said. “Yes, please come……Well, I think she looks rather like you......”
“Did you know that she died young?” Josceline asked Andrew.
“Of a broken heart.”
She told Andrew that she would try to find out more. This led her to start researching into the life of Amy, her mother May and the famous Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones and the result was the book A Profound Secret.
I looked at the book cover and thought the portrait reminded me of the Picasso I used for my Anorexia Blog.
“There was a hint in the book that she might well have died of Anorexia!” My hostess said.
It was a fascinating book, like good family biographies are, as long as you accept that it is not going to be as organised as fiction. A good writer helps and Josceline Dimbleby is a well established food and travel writer.
For a psychiatrist, it is especially interesting as he is allowed glimpses into the various personalities, their psychiatric problems and the resulting family dynamics, without the interference of the usual psychiatric labelling or coding. Unfortunately self medicating with alcohol, opium and other fancy substances was rife in that era and the result could often be tragic.
Indeed Josceline thought at one point in the book that Amy might have suffered from Anorexia although it was not a known condition at the time. She left it till the end of the book to let us into the final secret. You will have to find out for yourself.
Psychiatry may need to look again at what we have been doing, as we do not seem to have found another Burne-Jones.
Reference: "There had been a considerable vogue in
Roland Penrose: Life and Work of Picasso.