THE LOONY-BIN TRIP by Kate Millett
Kirkus Star

THE LOONY-BIN TRIP

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The author of Sexual Politics divulges her horrifying experience as a twice-committed manic-depressive--in a timely and tremendously affecting plea for mental-health patients' rights. In 1973, when Millett was at the apex of her career as a feminist, civil-rights activist, and best-selling author, her more conservative older sister learned of her extramarital lesbian relationships and had her committed to a California mental institution. Diagnosed as a manic-depressive, the brilliant if unconventional activist was subjected to physical abuse, solitary confinement, forced doses of Thorazine and an endless series of what she considered no-win interviews with psychiatrists who assumed from the outset that she was mad. Once released (with the help of feminist admirers and civil-rights lawyers), she faced the stigma of her commitment, the loss of her professional credibility, and her husband's desertion. Years later, an angry lover used Millett's history of mental illness to have her committed once again, this time in an Irish mental asylum while Millett was on vacation in Europe. Returning to New York after this Kafkaesque confinement to face a future of daily lithium doses, as well as overconcerned inquiries from friends about her health, Millett finally stopped asking herself whether she really was crazy and began concentrating on the more important issue of the state's ability to revoke citizens' civil rights based on assumptions regarding their sanity. In a time of growing impatience with the apparently mentally ill on our cities' streets, Millett provides not only a rare, tremendously captivating view into one former mental patient's experience, but highlights with remarkable passion and skill the potent issue of individual freedom versus the common good. An immensely powerful work--Millett's best in years.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1990
Publisher: Simon & Schuster