Manny: “I guess I was hoping for a miracle.”
Attendant: “It happens but it takes time.”
Manny (to his wife): “Rose…?”
Attendant: “She’s not listening now.”
—The Wrong Man, Alfred Hitchcock
Yes, it’s taking time. Over half a century has passed since this 1956 film, where a gloomy protagonist leaves his wife Rose behind in the asylum, staring vacantly out of the window—her bare room an allegory for the white funk of her mind. In all these years, countless scenes like this one would have unfolded on screen and in real life—only superficialities separating them, and a mind-numbing sameness marking their essence. Why so? Most branches of medicine are miles away from where they stood in the 1950s, in depth of understanding, diagnostic perfection and targeted intervention. But with mental illness, it’s as if science is still staring vacantly, like Rose, at a formless white fog outside the...