Diagnosed with severe anxiety, PTSD, and OCD in her early twenties, Sarah Fawn Montgomery spent the next ten years seeking treatment and the language with which to describe the indescribable consequences of her mental illness. Faced with disbelief, intolerable side effects, and unexpected changes in her mental health as a result of treatment, Montgomery turned to American history and her own personal history—including her turbulent childhood and the violence she faced as a young woman—to make sense of the experience. Blending memoir with literary journalism, Montgomery’s Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir examines America’s history of mental illness treatment—lobotomies to sterilization, the rest cure to Prozac—to challenge contemporary narratives about mental health. Questioning what it means to be a woman with highly stigmatized disorders, Montgomery also asks why mental illness continues to escalate in the United States despite so many “cures.” Investigating the construction of mental illness as a “female” malady, Montgomery exposes the ways current attitudes towards women and their bodies influence madness as well as the ways madness has transformed to a chronic Illness in our cultural imagination. Montgomery’s Quite Mad is one woman’s story, but it offers a beacon of hope and truth for the millions of individuals living with mental illness and issues a warning about the danger of diagnosis and the complex definition of sanity.
About the Author
Sarah Fawn Montgomery is the author of Regenerate: Poems of Mad Women, Leaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide, and The Astronaut Checks His Watch. She works as Prairie Schooner’s Assistant Nonfiction Editor and is an Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Brilliant and incredible debut work of nonfiction, about the author's life with myriad mental health diagnoses, QUITE MAD, should be required reading for all, but especially those who have been touched with mental illness, either in a personal or professional manner. With searing intelligence, unflinching honesty, and a breadth of research, Sarah Fawn Montgomery has left me in complete awe. QUITE MAD (Mad Creek Books, 2018) is a gorgeous melding of literary journalism meets memoir and is focused mostly on women in the U.S. and their relationship with mental illness. But. Sarah Fawn Montgomery had a challenging family of origin, too. Much of this tumultuous upbringing is chronicled throughout the pages--delving into both of her parents backgrounds, their own anxiety, their desire to adopt a houseful of 'special needs' kids (abandoned at birth, drug-addicted babies, and those who otherwise weren't cut out for foster care and their subsequent diagnoses). I read with interest, with disbelief, with shock. I found the prose poetic, literary, thoughtful, raw, honest, and poignant. The author takes the reader into a history of mental illness in the U.S. [of mostly women] marked with abuse, misunderstanding, social faux pas, medications, lack of healthcare, therapy, the paternalistic nature of psychiatry, and so much more. Much of this made me cringe, but it's also, still reality. And things need to change. Still, we volley between this and the author's personal story: her struggles with severe anxiety, her OCD, her disordered eating, and more. It's all so well done and I couldn't stop flagging pages. Truly, an important, humane read that is very thought-provoking, while simultaneously evoking empathy. Read it! I found some similarities in terms of research and style to that of Ron Powers's NOBODY CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE meets RUNNING WITH SCISSORS (in terms of Fawn Montgomery's family of origin), with a touch of Terri Cheney's work.