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Loony Bin Trip Paperback – 17 Oct 1991

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, 17 Oct 1991
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Product details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (17 Oct. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853813265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853813269
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.1 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,020,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Not since Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has the literature of madness emitted such a powerful anti-institutional cry." -- Washington Post ADVANCE PRAISE "The forced incarceration, the mental anguish, and the sheer humiliation of 'going mad' are made real in Millett's detailed and passionate narrative of her own experiences. This is a brave book. Once again, the pioneer of women's liberation in our century makes us consider the nature of freedom--what it is and who has a right to it." -- Andrea Dworkin, author of Letters from a War Zone "[Millett] takes you inside her mind in a way that no psychiatrist has ever done, and what you see there is not a mad woman, but another person, just like you, only a little bit more talented, and very, very sane (but damned mad). It is a magic book." -- Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of The Assault on Truth "Kate Millett is magnificent: a historical figure in her own lifetime, a truly exciting writer, a chronicler of our times... [Her] critique of institutional psychiatry and our well-meaning collusion with it is devastating and true... Millett's spirit is indomitable, her bravery thrilling, her return long awaited." -- Phyllis Chesler, author of Women and Madness --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will have you feeling what Kate M felt. It will have you 'in' her life so to speak with all her lostness, way out of control desires,bleak never ending despair and enormous fragility which is so apparant through out the book. You will feel her out of control life as her family and lesbian lover takes REPEATED measures to section her in Psychiartric hospitals and the betrayal in one instance of NOT being able to fufill a proffessional academic commitment due toabove actions being taken against her. You will be with her in her empty flat in NY as she struggles to make a living but discovers that work is mighty therapeutic for her. A book that is difficult to read if for some reason you are in this position yourselves but a must for all seeking to know what forced incarceration and medication (which makes her thirsty) and deprivation of Civil Rights and priviliges does to a human being; and help them understand the plight of misdiagnosed persons everywhere.
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Format: Paperback
Having been diagnosed as Manic Depressive nearly 2 years ago, I was very keen to read as much literature as I could about the subject. I finished Kay Redfield Jamison's 'An Unquiet Mind' and it convinced me of the need to stay on medication. I'm so glad I read it first! This book, interesting though it is about Kate Millet's life, loves etc is basically self-indulgent and doesn't seem to discuss descent into madness at all. Except it is very clear that everyone else sees it but Kate - she talks about other people acting strange towards her while completely oblivious to her own behaviour. While this horrible fact is recognised, it is not explored or understood. The book was compelling reading, but I found huge gaps during the trip to Ireland. While Kate seems sometimes to realise she was psychotic, she then blames it on the medication and dismisses it. The fact that she declines medication now and is feels 'fine' is kind of commendable but very risky. Being someone who doesn't want to feel she needs medication either, I'm afraid to admit I continue to take Lithium for the sake of my family and friends - I recognise how sick someone with manic depression can get (and although I had a great time while hospitalised, I see now how sick I really was and how much it affected everyone I knew). I never want to go through it again. Not for me or any of my loved ones. Take this book with a pinch of salt. Although I respect Kate Millet a lot, I have thought a lot about my views on psychiatric medication - call me a sucker if you wish, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a classic. A feminist icon brings her formidable intellect and humanity to the subject of forced psychiatric interventions and systemic abuse. The fact that Kate Millett is a professor, a renowned author and one of the great figures of feminism offered little protection from the messianic forces of psychiatry to whom domination of and cruelty to theri "patients" is an everyday occupation. Kate explains through her own story how conventional psychiatry saw all her acheivements and activities as evidence of a mysterious disease process they have labelled manic depression (now bipolar disorder) and were convinced that she had to be "treated" against her will "for her own good". Kate shows how psychiatric propaganda corrupted her relationships and set her siblings and parents against her in a battle for control of this so-called disease process. Throughout Kate remains herself: rational, erudite, compassionate, and fully human. All psychiatrists should read this book. It should be part of their training. It would lead to a general consciousness-raising within the profession which is long overdue. Who knows, some might turn away from their "profession" altogether and go and do something useful, if less lucrative, with their lives.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8ee4824c) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ec9721c) out of 5 stars Fascinating but wordy and pretentious 19 Mar. 2002
By Marino J. Martinez - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this book primarily for some insights into the excesses of psychiatry, and found much of that. I was quite surprised how strongly I identified with some of her feelings. Though I have have never had problems of the sort Kate had (has?), I am one of the many who have experienced clinical depression and been treated for it. As I read her book, I noticed how even this minor problem carries a lifetime of suspicion from others. As I go through life, physicians and relatives are quite ready and willing to jump on ordinary feelings as "evidence" that it is happening again, and maybe there is more to it. How oddly must one behave to start the spiral down to the point of something like Kate's experience happening?
Though I felt that Kate really should have known better than to do some of what she did, knowing that others were likely to use them excuses to have her committed, I still felt deeply her fear and helplessness. I was especially disgusted by the attitude of the shrink who failed to get her hauled away in the Bowry only through Kate's quick thinking.
The minuses of this book for me were the many times the she goes into descriptions of artists and other creative types in such exalted terms. Kate left little doubt that, to her, anyone who does other things with their lives are empty shells who rely on the chosen ones (such as herself) to be able to see the world as it truly is. This sort of elitism (how many times does she tell us she is a professor and published writer) and condescension is sickening in someone who spends so much of her life trying to right great wrongs of society.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ec97804) out of 5 stars The Loony Bin Trip 20 April 2001
By Pop Curious - Published on
Format: Paperback
Written between 1982 and 1985, The Loony-Bin Trip is overwhelmingly an effort to revert common notions of depression so that, like "grief," it may be allowed to enter the popular vocabulary. Millet achieves her foremost intent through her undeniably exquisite prose supplanted by already-changing attitudes toward depression among the public. However, The Loony Bin Trip is much more than a diatribe against prevailing stigmas of depression - it is a tender account of a talented, intelligent women's relentless desire to be accepted and understood by her contemporaries. Traumatic accounts and vivid self-reflection can occasionally prompt the most neutral reader into turmoil, thus rendering The Loony Bin Trip a cross-reference somewhere between memoir and horror. Her gut wrenching appeals for sympathy may provoke anger in some readers, reinforcing her real-life role as that of a "crazy" woman, but ultimately, her wealth of writings prove her to be a functional, if not creatively contributing, member of society. Reading Kate Millet's The Loony Bin Trip is a trip in itself. (Review written for Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal," a publication of the Claremont Colleges.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8edd83a8) out of 5 stars The Looney Bin is a fast & fascinating book. 28 Nov. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Looney Bin By Kate Millett shares with us her experiences, ranging from dispair, to terror, and finally inner peace, after being diagnosed Manic Depressive. The book is a strong indictment against the treatment of the mentally ill here and abroad.
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Katherine Murray ("Kate") Millett (born 1934) is a feminist writer, educator, artist, and activist. She has written other books such as Sexual Politics, Flying, Sita, The Prostitution Papers, etc. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 317-page hardcover edition.]

She wrote in the Preface to this 1990 book, “This is an account of a journey into that nightmare state ascribed to madness: that social condition, that experience of being cast out and confined. I am telling you what happened to me. Because the telling functions for me as a kind of exorcism… through reliving what occurred… I am telling this too in the hope that it may help all those who have been or are about to be in the same boat, those captured and shaken by this bizarre system of beliefs: the general suspicion of ‘mental disease,’ the physical fact of incarceration and compulsory drugs, finally the threat of being put away and locked up forever, or if released, stigmatized throughout the course of our lives… For seven years I lived with a hand tremor, diarrhea, the possibility of kidney damage and all the other ‘side effects’ of lithium. Then, in the summer of 1980, I decided to go off lithium, therefore severing the control of an authority I had never entirely believed in and had reasons to resent… If I had kept my own counsel, maybe nothing would have come of the decision. But I imagined I was safe. This is what happened.”

She recalls having called her sister, who asked her, “Are you taking your lithium?” Millett observes, “Suddenly it all comes back, the last time, the loony-bin trip, the shame, the terror of being locked up. It was she who put me there---a thing I can forgive but not quite forget, though it was forgotten until the line: ‘Are you taking your medicine?’ like a bullying sergeant… in those prisons I thought I had left forever. I realize that if she were to know I have gone off the stuff, she might be out here in no time, might even have me busted with a few phone calls. Meaning well---they always mean well. And they always win: by the time you are busted you are crazy, certified and incompetent… broken by the bust and, when the depression comes down, contrite and crumped and only too willing to crawl to the psychiatrists, take what they give you; the arrival of depression proving you were manic too at the moment when they cornered you. I will not be cornered again. This call was a mistake… the very opposite of what I want to evoke.” (Pg. 28-29)

She explains, “Then why quit taking lithium? … Six years of being on a drug that made one sluggish, the mind sedated… A few months off lithium without freaking out might prove otherwise, establish my sanity… to lift the judgment against me would be to have my selfhood again, absolved of the ever-present and proven charge of insanity… Not an ‘illness’ but a crime, for in fact that’s how it’s seen. Lithium maintenance is only a suspended sentence. What if I were innocent altogether? Sane all along? Rather than the bearer of an incurable illness, a chronic recurrent disease, a rot in the very heart of the brain, a cancer of the mind?” (Pg. 31-32)

She recounts, “Dear God, what will they do to me, the long sad corridors of how long? … No on I knew when I worked at St. Peter’s ever got out alive and was not back a few months later---this is the labyrinth; the rest of my life I will wear this mark on my forehead if this is the place it seems… I was voluntarily visiting a psychiatrist, that was the deal. This … is a hospital, a mental hospital, an institution---iron gates.” (Pg. 39)

She points out, “How crazy craziness makes everyone, how irrationally afraid. The madness hidden in each of us, called to, identified… The more I fear my own insanity the more I punish yours: the madman at the crossroad, the senile old woman, the wild-eyed girl, the agitated man talking to himself on the subway.” (Pg. 67-68)

She comments about her book ‘Flying’: “There is no longer anything to write now, nothing suggests itself. ‘Flying’ was the whole discovery of writing and it is over now… it’s over and there is nothing more to come. From writing to live I have come to live to write, but the well is now dry as a vacuum… You had to wait till thirty-five to write at all… your whole life a required course just to produce a thesis. Next came ‘Flying,’ a first book really, one book of your own. Before the bubble burst and you lost your guts, sat at the dining room table… and in two speedy afternoons discovered you were not a writer at all. You were scared when you started ‘Flying,’ but now the scare is past all measure, a panic huge and unconquerable.” (Pg. 77)

She argues, “your deliverance from the hell you lived through … [is] a stigma you will carry all your life. Spoken or silent. And that is what stopping the lithium did; it stopped the shame, the compliance. It brought me back to that time again---the six lost years fall out and hang aside and I am knitted up, a being murdered and buried and back again. Hypothetically, I could still be taking lithium and come to this conclusion, validate the past. But lithium represented collusion; when I stopped I was no longer cooperating in some social an emotional way.” (Pg. 95)

She recalls, “it is a barracks, a jail, a stone fortress… The malign intent of the place is clear; its details are hazy. A barracks, a prison, the worst bin of all. The mad politics of whose side these men are on: do they imprison rebels here or is it a rest stop for terrorists, revolutionaries, men of violence…?... Would I be among women or thrown to some male dogs, jailers worse than any policemen? As the police bring me through the doors I already regret their departure; they at least did me no harm. I am terrified anew. Locks, there are locks. Once past the door you are finished. And bars on the windows… The sound of keys. And the pretense of a hospital.” (Pg. 193)

She ruminates, “But if you are to be any use, you will have to stop equating madness with captivity; that is, stop proving you aren’t crazy, since this assumes that if you were, you might deserve to be locked up: you’re only innocent if you’re sane, and so on. So your mind has to be cold sober, if possible slightly depressed, in order to be adequate or credible. No mania… Not till you permit madness… can you really stand against the bin as prison and punishment. Then you have a case---not otherwise. But you don’t even know madness from sanity. And you fear madness as much as the others, would cut it out of your mind like a cancer… they still have no right to put you here, deprive you of your liberty and even hope… But you don’t believe it enough yet. No one else believe it at all. That, finally, is the problem.” (Pg. 248)

She records, “What applies now is the descent of the one illness I have never questioned---depression. I feel it descending hourly, daily, recognize the vertigo. I am certain of the onset because of the panic, the great heightened fear---which is both imaginary in its monstrous proportions and real as well, since it is the last attempt of the psyche to struggle free before being burned alive in inertia. Panic is a haste in emergency that finds the dime but drops it while scrabbling for the telephone number.” (Pg. 260)

She laments, “Death is everything, it blots out life. Would it would come soon. Imagine twenty or thirty more years of this, an old an older and then decrepit woman living alone… There is so much to be ashamed of now. I was crazy, I am mad; I have an illness that will worsen through my life. I know I can’t succeed at suicide; I don’t even think of it anymore. Only of death, wanting to be dead. Unable to get there.” (Pg. 275)

She concludes, “I wrote ‘The Loony-Bin Trip’ in part to recover myself, my mind, even its claims to sanity. But I hope as well that I might relinquish that conundrum---sanity/insanity… I wrote [the book] to go back over the ground and discover whether I did go mad. Went mad or was driven crazy---that differentiation. But it is not so cut and dried, cannot be. And if I did go mad, even acknowledging latitude and overlap, then what was madness, the irrational, what was it like? Experientially, rolling back the secret and shame, remembering.” (Pg. 313)

This is a disturbing, yet profoundly thought-provoking book. It will be of great interest to most persons interested in Kate Millett, but also those with an interest in institutional psychiatry, anti-psychiatry, the Mad Pride movement, and other areas.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ec97d5c) out of 5 stars Challenging journey 15 Sept. 2009
By Gina Marie - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kate Millets "The Loony-Bin Trip" is her account of going off lithium to try and see if she can cure herself of her illness or to get a different pespective of her illness that hasn't been formed by those around her. Initially I can see why she did it. Its difficult to reconcile a new experience such as the mood swings people with bipolar experience, the abrupt experience of a forced hospitilization and the change in identity all this brings about. One can see why she would want to attempt to clean ones palate from such extreme experiences as that in order to try and reconnect with herself. During the book Kate Millet trys to reconcile being bipolar with a sense of dignity at a time in which the mental health industry saw this as impossible. At times you find yourself rooting for her escape from an Irish mental institution that she was tricked into attending and at other times you sense a bit of denial of her condition. From reading her account you also become shocked with the amount of insensitivity she is treated with. Her account is of course a biased one so the reader cant really be sure that what theyre getting is the most objective one. Contrasting views sometimes seep through when for example you read a note given to her by a women named Kim, who is staying with her on her farm. She maintains a denial of her condition until the end in which she falls into a deep depression and has to own up to it. She resumes her lithium and other anti-depressants and works her way out of it. Throughout the book, the reader is acquanted with her creative ideas for her farm and her commune of artist women and the various adventures this brings about.
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