Through one woman's intimate story, Means of Grace brings to light the painful intersection of women's roles, mental illness, and the 1950's.
Means Of Grace is a moving evocation of the difficulties faced by the housewives of the 1950s and 1960s, some of whose lives were irrevocably damaged by their diagnosis and hospitalization as 'madwives'.
Ann Clements Conger was an ambitious journalist in the 1940's. In the 1950's she became a mother, and torn between her domestic roles and her career, she began a frightening journey into the world of hallucinations, tranquilizers and institutionalization. Diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia, she, like thousands of other American women, was committed against her will, and given electric shock therapy. Through the use of home movie footage, archival footage and dramatizations, Means of Grace raises questions about social control, definitions of madness, the nuclear family, women's roles and the Cold War. We meet her daughter, the filmmaker, as she wrestles with questions of doubt, shame, understanding and resoultion. Means of Grace is a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Produced by Watermark Media for the Independent Television Service.
Clements brings us into the world of her mother's madness and out the other side. Having made the journey we have been changed.
A masterful achievement...every woman should view this film.
A unique and sensitive documentary.
The film's insights into the social forces that shape our lives are powerful and important.
J. Clements explores her own mother's painful struggles with mental illness during the 1950s and 1960s in this film. Excerpts from her mother's diary shed light on the hallucinations, drug treatments, and hospitalizations that began to dominate her life. These frightening and upsetting events unfolded as this woman tried to raise her children, be a good housewife, and advance her own writing career.
A haunting, intimate documentary
Means of Grace sensitively raises questions about the definitions of mental illness and social control of women in American society.