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Pulitzer-nominated author offers insights on mental wellness

Marya Hornbacher will visit St. Kate's on October 11 for five events.
Marya Hornbacher will visit St. Kate's on October 11 for five events.
Photo courtesy of author.

After reading Marya Hornbacher’s two memoirs, Stephanie Burrows ’12 looked up the New York Times-bestselling author online and sent her an email. Burrows, a psychology major at St. Catherine University, got the Minneapolis-based Hornbacher’s autograph over coffee and asked her to visit St. Kate’s.

On October 11, a year after that meeting, Hornbacher — whose her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize — will speak at three Department of Psychology classes, lead a creative writing workshop and deliver a presentation on “Healing Body, Finding Voice: Wholeness in a Woman's Life” on the St. Paul campus.

The first four events are only open to St. Catherine University students, faculty, staff and alumnae (details below). The final event at 7 p.m. in the Jeanne d'Arc Auditorium is free and open to the general public (see sidebar).

“We’re extremely excited about her visit, and it’s been in the works for quite some time,” says Burrows, president of St. Kate’s "Active Minds" chapter. The student club is cosponsoring Horbacher’s visit with St. Kate’s psychology department, Counseling Center, Student Senate, Student Center and Activities and the St. Kate's Activities Team.

“The talk at night is open to everyone, and she will focus on women’s mental wellness. It’s definitely not going to be a depressing event by any means. Marya is extremely enthusiastic and she’s got some amazing credentials.”

Free public event:
“Healing Body, Finding Voice: Wholeness in a Woman's Life”
7 p.m. Jeanne d'Arc Auditorium
No tickets required
A reception will follow

See below for St. Kate's community events.

In fact, Stacy Symons, assistant professor of psychology and Active Minds chapter faculty advisor, routinely recommends Hornbacher’s books to students in her “Abnormal Psychology” course.

Hornbacher, who teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Northwestern University in Chicago, wrote her first book Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia at 23. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has sold more than a million copies in the United States. Her second memoir, Madness: A Bipolar Life earned Hornbacher high praise from The New York Times: “she is a virtuoso writer: humorous, articulate and self-aware.” Hornbacher has since written several books, including a guide to dealing with both mental illness and addiction.

“Mental illness is simply not talked enough about on campuses around the country, and therefore there’s quite a stigma that surrounds it,” says Burrows. “There are a lot of questions that people are too afraid to bring up or ask about,” she adds. “I’m very passionate about it because I have family and friends who have mental illnesses.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Illness, females aged 18–25 are the most at risk for developing a serious mental illness, including both behavior and emotional disorders.

Active Minds is a national student-led organization dedicated to raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. At St. Kate’s, chapter members meet the first and third Tuesday of every month from 12–1 p.m. in 302 Mendel Hall on the St. Paul campus.

Four events open to the St. Kate’s community:
(30-minute lecture and discussion)
8 a.m. “The History of Women in Alcoholics Anonymous”
9:55 a.m. “Bipolar Disorder”
1:30 p.m. “Mental Illness: Stress and Stigma”
4–6 p.m. Creative writing workshop. Registration required; space is limited.

Email Stacy Symons for details or see Daily Update (log-in required). 

Open to the general public:
7 p.m. “Healing Body, Finding Voice: Wholeness in a Woman's Life” in Jeanne d'Arc Auditorium. Free and open to the public.

For more information about Marya Hornbacher’s visit or Active Minds, email Stacy Symons or Stephanie Burrows.

Oct. 4, 2011 by Pauline Oo

See also: Healthcare, Liberal Arts, Students