Awais Aftab, MD, and author Audrey Clare Farley, PhD, discuss Girls and Their Monsters: The Genain Quadruplets and the Making of Madness in America.
“The Genain quadruplets have really gone down in psychiatric history for being the ‘poster girls’ for psychiatric genetics.”
In Girls and Their Monsters: The Genain Quadruplets and the Making of Madness in America, author Audrey Clare Farley, PhD, explores the lives of the Genain quadruplets, 4 sisters who were all diagnosed with schizophrenia and ultimately became part of the efforts by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to better understand the genetics of schizophrenia.
In this interview with Psychiatric Times® Editorial Board Member Awais Aftab, MD, about Girls and Their Monsters, Farley discusses the quadruplets’ lives, their impact on psychiatric history, NIMH’s research on them between the 1950s and 1990s, and the role of sexual and racial trauma in mental illness and psychiatric research.
Dr Aftab is a psychiatrist in Cleveland, Ohio, and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. He has been actively involved in initiatives to educate psychiatrists and trainees on the intersection of philosophy and psychiatry. He leads the interview series “Conversations in Critical Psychiatry” for Psychiatric Times and he writes for his Substack newsletter “Psychiatry at the Margins.” He is also a member of the Psychiatric Times Editorial Board.
Dr Farley is a writer, editor, and scholar of 20th-century American culture with special interests in science and religion. She is the author of The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt and Girls and Their Monsters: The Genain Quadruplets and the Making of Madness in America, and her essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Washington Post, and many other outlets.