Alex Templeton's Reviews > Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin

Voluntary Madness by Norah Vincent
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Jun 11, 2009

it was ok
Read in May, 2009

Norah Vincent decided to check herself into three different mental institutions with different approaches and different financial resources and write about the results. I found the concept appealing but the result not as compelling as I had expected. I didn't find that Vincent really drew any unique conclusions about the mental health care system, or our notions of psychology. There was a section that I even found particularly disturbing, in which she alluded to the idea that white, middle-class anxiety and depression sufferers are really just whiny adults indulging themselves, or something to that effect. As a middle-class white woman who did go through a period of serious depression, I find that idea insensitive and incredibly unempathetic. It also assumes, wrongly, that white middle-class people don't suffer "real" problems the way the lower class do. I highly disagree with the ranking of emotional malaise, as it is very real to each person who experiences it. (To be fair: Vincent wrote that section as she was describing a period of her own depression, so it might be an example of the sort of self-flagellation someone who is going through depression might engage in, if a highly intellectualized one.)
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