Year 4, Book 15

15. Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin by Norah Vincent
Vincent decides to check herself in to 3 different mental institutions: one public, one private, and one kind of new agey place to examine their differences. The story doesn’t quite follow her initial goal, as Vincent, who has experienced major depressive episodes in the past, falls into a major depression after checking out of the public institution. Thus the final 2/3 of the book where she examines the other 2 institutions become more about her own treatment than the institutions themselves. I don’t think this necessarily detracted from the book as some reviews I saw did. It just gives it another dimension. She spends about 10 days in each institution. She writes about her experiences in each place, the kinds of people she meets there, the kinds of treatments offered, and whether she thinks institutionalization is effective. I thought it was a thought-provoking book that offered good insight into one aspect of treating mental illness. I give it a 7 out of 10.

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