Friday, February 27, 2009

This Looks So Fantastic!

Can you believe I just used an exclamation point in the title of this blog post? I know, right? That's how excited I am about this book, Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin by Norah Vincent.

I read this article on and knew I had to put this on my wish list. Actually, I might move it to the top of my wish list.

Here's the snippet that got me to read the whole article (and induced my fervor to read the book):

"There are concerns... that psychiatrists in the real world of city hospital psych wards and small private practices spend far too much time writing prescriptions and far too little time listening to patients to help them work through issues that may be the root of their illnesses. Norah Vincent explores this controversy through firsthand personal experience: She becomes a patient herself, documenting what she saw in her new book...

"Vincent, the bestselling author of Self-Made Man (Penguin, 2006), in which she wrote about disguising herself as a man, decided to have herself voluntarily committed to three different institutions. (She declined to provide their real names to protect the privacy of doctors and patients she met there.) She first faked her way into a big city public hospital by pretending to have a recurrence of her previous depression. She then intentionally caused a relapse of her depression by going off her antidepressant, which led to her being admitted to a small private hospital. Finally, she tried a recovery facility replete with yoga classes, gym, and facials.

"Setting aside the ethical problems of faking mental illness (Vincent told her insurance company and offered to pay for the treatment) and the recklessness of causing your own depression relapse, the book is replete with insights into how varying treatment is for mental illness."

That's kind of crazy, right? (Not that I intended that pun.) I seriously think it would be really interesting to get a "behind-the-scenes" peek from a first-hand perspective of mental health. A lot of authors use poor mental health as plot devices and character "flaws" in fiction, and I'd like to compare/contrast with some (potentially biased) non-fiction.

Anybody else totally weirded out in the most awesome way ever by this book?

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