Voluntary Madness

  • by Norah Vincent
  • Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
  • 9 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man ended on a harrowing note. Suffering from severe depression after her 18 months living disguised as a man, Vincent felt she was a danger to herself. On the advice of her psychologist she committed herself to a mental institution. Vincent's journey takes her from a big-city hospital to a facility in the Midwest and finally to an upscale retreat down south, as she analyzes the impact of institutionalization on the unwell, the tyranny of drugs as treatment, and the dysfunctional dynamics between caregivers and patients.

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What the Critics Say

"Vincent's discussions of daily life, treatment approaches, observations of patients and staff, and commentary on the over-reliance of medication and the nature of mental illness itself are fresh and valuable." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Self indulgent.

"Voluntary" Madness is a fitting name for this book. It seems like Norah Vincent is milking a case of mild depression to get into mental hospitals in order to write a book. One gets the feeling that she wants to be sicker than she actually is. The overall tone is whiny and self-indulgent.

There are redeeming parts of the book. I enjoyed listening to the parts that talked about the various treatments available to Vincent for her mental illness. Living with a mental illness myself, I'm always in the market for quality treatment that will make me feel better and not worse.

If you are interested in mental illness and its treatment, you will get something out of this book. If you are looking for a good experiential read about one woman's journey through madness, you will be disappointed by this sometimes trite, often self-indulgent book.
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- RaisinNut

Welcome to a 10-hour Rant

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This is not a revealing story or a well-thought-out treatise on mental health care. It is a 10-hour rant of uneducated suppositions about what the author thinks about psychiatry and mental health care. As someone who has been committed to a psychiatric hospital for almost a year and who later went on to become board certified in psychiatric nursing, I am horrified that anyone would take this author's ramblings seriously.


What do you think your next listen will be?

Something about crime


What didn’t you like about Tavia Gilbert’s performance?

The reader did not do the story any favors. She read the book so fast and with such a complaining tone, that it added to the "rantyness" of the prose.


What character would you cut from Voluntary Madness?

Norah Vincent


Any additional comments?

Don't buy this audiobook.

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- Susan A. Meyer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-13-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.