.Author: Laurel Lorraine Lancer, PhD
Summary: Laurel is an anxious woman, and for her husband, he finds her a nuisance, and wishes she could just be “normal” like everyone else, and work her job as a teacher, and serve him, as “a housewife should”.
Laurel sees a psychiatrist, whom doesn’t like her husband, but follows his directions, and hospitalizes Laurel under false pretenses. She is told it will only be for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, with no insulin shock “therapy” (which she had been subjected to in a previous hospitalization, which she brings up a few times through the book) and she will just be able to relax.
Immediately, she is put in a wing where more severely troubled patients are cared for. The next morning she is not given breakfast – a sign that she is going to be given insulin shock therapy or electroshock therapy (note: this is the same as a surgical procedure, no food or drink by mouth previous) and is injected with insulin, taken down to the treatment area, and given even more insulin.
She fights off the insulin for a while, not knowing how dangerous a practice this is. She sees other patients fall into the insulin coma, and also sees the doctor perform electroshock therapy on the unconscious patients. She gets sweaty, drowsy, and must be supervised afterwards, in case of a reaction later on, like her blood sugar plummeting.
Her husband rarely visits, if he does, its only for a few minutes after work, before visiting hours are over, and he feels as if its going out of his way. He constantly lies to Laurel, and she does not see her kids. When she is allowed a visit home, he ignores the psychiatrists instructions, and drives through an area that gives her panic attacks, and she has a panic attack, and must return to the hospital.
This obviously has a huge effect on her, angers her psychiatrist, and makes her husband angry, as well, but he feels he’s the victim. This goes on throughout the book. Laurel will have a problem, often provoked, the husband acts like Laurel is doing it on purposes, that he is the victim.
Laurel talks about other patients on her ward, and she does have a sense of humour. She joins a group of other women that stir up trouble with the nurses, and does arts and crafts, irritating her husband, because he must pay for the supplies. She is subjected to the insulin coma therapy, with exceptionally high doses of insulin, then moved to a less restrictive ward, more like a house, and does what we now call “exposure therapy“.
This book is an interesting read because its a look at a psychiatric hospital before they used psychotropic medication as a primary treatment. Now, she’d be doing CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), would probably be prescribed an SSRI (such as Prozac, Lezapro, and so on) and would likely not have been hospitalized at all.
I’ve read this book a few times, it’s quite interesting, and she writes well. It’s written by her, in her own words. It’s an easy read, but has some disturbing sections for those that have mental illness, or are squeamish. It is non-fiction, and ends well. I found the book on Kobo, but it is hard to find now. The best I could come up with is this at bol.com.