Voluntary Madness: Lost and Found in the Mental Healthcare System

Voluntary Madness: Lost and Found in the Mental Healthcare System

3.1 29
by Norah Vincent
     
 

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From the author of The New York Times bestseller Self- Made Man, a captivating expose of depression and mental illness in America

Revelatory, deeply personal, and utterly relevant, Voluntary Madness is a controversial work that unveils the state of mental healthcare in the United States from the inside out. At the conclusion of her

Overview

From the author of The New York Times bestseller Self- Made Man, a captivating expose of depression and mental illness in America

Revelatory, deeply personal, and utterly relevant, Voluntary Madness is a controversial work that unveils the state of mental healthcare in the United States from the inside out. At the conclusion of her celebrated first book—Self-Made Man, in which she soent eighteen months disguised as a man-Norah Vincent found herself emotionally drained and severely depressed.

Determined but uncertain about maintaining her own equilibrium, she boldly committed herself to three different facilities-a big-city hospital, a private clinic in the Midwest, and finally an upscale retreat in the South. Voluntary Madness is the chronicle of Vincent's journey through the world of the mentally ill as she struggles to find her own health and happiness.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143116851
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/29/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
751,277
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Norah Vincent is the author of the New York Times bestseller Self-Made Man. Previously, she wrote a nationally syndicated op-ed column for the Los Angeles Times. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Village Voice, and The Washington Post. She lives in New York City.

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Voluntary Madness 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book provided insight into mental health treatment in the US in a innovative way. The author, who has suffered with depression, decides to conduct a year long research project to compare treatment from three very different facilities. Her results are interesting and at times surprising. She finds as she conducts her research that she is slipping back into a depressed state and her honestly in describing her demons is excrutiating. You will find yourself hoping for the author's return to wellness while at the same time feeling thankful for her story. Its a very easy book to read and her story is compelling. She gives a voice to the millions of people suffering from mental illness and educates those who are not.
Betsy_B More than 1 year ago
VOLUNTARY MADNESS by Norah Vincent was FASCINATING. I write that in all caps because I mean it in the literal sense of the word, not as a vague compliment. After picking the book up casually, halfway into the first chapter I became absolutely compelled to read it. While researching another book, Ms. Vincent became depressed and checked herself into a classic mental ward, which scared the bejesus out of her. She swore she'd never do it again. Except she did, because as a spectacle, the mental ward was impossible to beat, and as a journalist, she couldn't resist it. Having had personal experience with mental illness, she decided to "fake" more severe mental illness and spend time in different types of mental institutions, rural, expensive, public, comparing the treatment she receives. Her intent is to write an expose the system, but her results, both journalistic and personal, are much more complex than she- or I- anticipate. I started reading expecting a voyeuristic, holy-canole, amusing thrill ride, but her experiences were much more enlightening than that. There was plenty of drama and backstage dirt, but her relationships with other patients, staff, and herself end up being much more memorable in the long run. Norah Vincent's writing is smooth and concise. I never once had to re-read a sentence to figure out what she was saying- her words never got in the way of her meaning.She writes clearly and conversationally about scientific principles and psyciatric medications, without getting bogged down or ruining the flow of her story-telling. She is BRUTALLY honest about her own personal history and her reactions to psychotherapy. She gives so much of herself in this book that I almost want to send her a check and pay for the book twice. (I'm too cheap to actually do it, however!) It's a weighty subject and she doesn't dodge the tough stuff, but the book isn't a weighty read. It's fun, funny, entertaining, thought-provoking- everything, in short, that I want a book to be. As my ultimate act of reader-judgement, after reading this, I immediately ordered all her other books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy autobiography. This book, however, I really hated. The author seems to poke fun at mental hospitals for the needy and homeless. She is on a personal mission to ckeck out mental hospitals. All one really learns is her distsain for the mentally ill, her need for attention, and her lack of compssion for truely mentally ill folks that need inpatient care. If everyone could aford a country club hospital I think they would go and like it as much as the author. Don't read this,dont waste your momey.
dusltmom More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure what I expected from this book. Probably more of a personal journey through mental hospitals/care facilities, but I didn't find it here. Reads more like a doctor's report. Boring. I read about halfway through and gave up. Don't bother.
KariArizona More than 1 year ago
I found this book was incredibly interesting. I had always wondered what it was really like in the loony bin and this author gave several great personal experiences about exactly what it was like and posed those views from different places. It was VERY insightful and I highly recommend it to others.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Norah Vncent is no stranger to mental illness or the institues and doctors who treat it. After a particularly harrowing experience she decides to check herself in to three different facilities and write about what she finds. She goes into the project with a clear idea of the injustice and drug abuse she expects to find, but a curious emotional detachment given her past experiences. Early on her suspicions are confirmed and she seems to really be just going through the motions. Don't give up on this book at this point! Towards the end she is faced with some big surprises, has a huge and profround breakthrough of her own, and comes to some very insightful conclusions about the industry based around the "curing" of the mentally ill. By the end Vincent has written a astounding, brutally honest account of her own struggle with depression and how she found her way with both the help and hindrance of professionals. I listened to this book on audio, read by Tavia Gilbert. She does a good job with the narration especially during the extremely emotional breakthroughs that Norah Vincent has. This is such a worthwhile book! I learned a lot about anti-pschotic drugs, mental illnesses, and especially about what happiness is and how it can be attained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very similar to "Suicide: Inside and Out", by David K. Reynolds, who spent a year in a psych facility under a pseudonym, to research suicide behaviors inside the mental ward. Interesting perspective.
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