"Best Minds: How Allen Ginsberg Made Revolutionary Poetry from Madness"

Dr. Stevan M. Weine writes about his new book Best Minds: How Allen Ginsberg Made Revolutionary Poetry from Madness: “Decades ago when I was a medical student Ginsberg entrusted me with materials not previously shared, including psychiatric records which documented how he and his mother Naomi Ginsberg struggled with mental illness.”

Come join Dr. Weine, a Columbia P & S graduate, for a dynamic talk incorporating readings, reflections, audio, images, and discussion about Best Minds published by Fordham University Press in March 2023. Best Minds details Ginsberg’s experiences at Columbia College, his treatment at Columbia Psychiatry (NYSPI), as well as Dr. Weine’s experiences there as a student beginning the research on this book. Best Minds examines the complex relationships between mental illness, psychiatry, trauma, poetry, and prophecy to offer new and indispensable insights into an American icon. It also provides new views of the paternalism, treatment failures, ethical lapses, and limitations of American psychiatry during the 1940s and 1950s.

Date: Wednesday, April 26

Time: 6:30PM Central, 7:30PM Eastern, 4:30PM Pacific

Location: Zoom Video Conference

Cost: Free

About Stevan Weine

Dr. Stevan M. Weine graduated Columbia P&S in 1987 and is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where he is also Director of Global Medicine and Director of the Center for Global Health. He is the author of two books: When History is a Nightmare: Lives and Memories of Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Testimony and Catastrophe: Narrating the Traumas of Political Violence.

Pre-Publication Review

“Stevan Weine’s biography of Allen Ginsberg is a major breakthrough in our understanding of this major American poet. With complete access to Ginsberg’s medical records, alongside interviews and other documents, Weine is able to construct the most complex account we have of Ginsberg’s struggle with madness, both his own and his mother’s, and to frame it within the history of American psychiatry and the pursuit of visionary poetry and experiences throughout Ginsberg’s career. Essential reading for anyone interested in the long history of madness in individuals, families, and cultures.” - J. T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, English and Art History, University of Chicago, author of Mental Traveler: A Father, a Son, and a Journey through Schizophrenia

Purchase the Book

Copies of Best Minds: How Allen Ginsberg Made Revolutionary Poetry from Madness are available for purchase here:

Fordham University Press: Best Minds



April 26, 2023 at 6:30pm - 9pm

Zoom Video Conference

Chicago, IL
United States

Chris Stacey


Will you come?