Voluntary Madness: Book summary and reviews of Voluntary Madness by Norah Vincent

Voluntary Madness

My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin

By Norah Vincent

Voluntary Madness

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Book Summary

Norah Vincent's New York Times bestselling book, Self-Made Man, ended on a harrowing note. Suffering from severe depression after her eighteen months living disguised as a man, Vincent felt she was a danger to herself. On the advice of her psychologist she committed herself to a mental institution. Out of this raw and overwhelming experience came the idea for her next book. She decided to get healthy and to study the effect of treatment on the depressed and insane "in the bin," as she calls it.

Vincent's journey takes her from a big city hospital to a facility in the Midwest and finally to an upscale retreat down south, as she analyzes the impact of institutionalization on the unwell, the tyranny of drugs-as-treatment, and the dysfunctional dynamic between caregivers and patients. Vincent applies brilliant insight as she exposes her personal struggle with depression and explores the range of people, caregivers, and methodologies that guide these strange, often scary, and bizarre environments. Eye opening, emotionally wrenching, and at times very funny, Voluntary Madness is a riveting work that exposes the state of mental healthcare in America from the inside out.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Though keenly observed, her account never fully transcends its central gimmick." - Publishers Weekly.

"A riveting and enlightening look at mental-health treatment." - Booklist.

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Author Information

Norah Vincent Author Biography

Photo: Michele Asselin

Norah Vincent left her job as a nationally syndicated opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times to research Self-Made Man. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, the New York Post, The Village Voice, and The Washington Post, among other journals, and also includes Voluntary Madness. She has appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows.

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