Joanne Greenberg’s I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

4 April 2015
A discussion of the novel depicting the pain and suffering of schizophrenia.

This paper discusses Joanne Greenberg’s semi-autobiographical novel which tackles issues surrounding mental illness. The author’s intentions in writing the novel are outlined, including the importance of the patient’s relationship to the therapist, the relationship with family and the humanization of mental illness.
`Deborah Blau, the protagonist in I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, creates a world called Yr as one of the symptoms of her disease. Yr is a tranquil haven from the real world until Deborah undergoes treatment for her illness. While she tackles her issues in the hospital under the kind and skilled guidance of her therapist Dr. Clara Fried, Deborah is forced to confront the painful emotions that have haunted her throughout her life. These issues and her family background are offered by Greenberg not as an excuse or cause for Deborah’s illness, but to provide context and garner empathy.

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Throughout the novel, the points of view of Deborah’s parents and her sister are examined, also to provide a greater understanding of schizophrenia as it affects not only the patient but also all who care for her. The novel ends on an uplifting but realistic note: Deborah has begun to trust the healing process even as she recognizes that the process will be no `rose garden.“

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Joanne Greenberg's I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. (2015, Apr 23). Retrieved December 13, 2019, from
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