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We're all mad here: An American pharma-memoir

Sarah Fawn Montgomery, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


At twenty-two, I sat down with my parents for an intervention concerning everyday stress levels, soon after experiencing a self-fulfilling prophecy of doubt and fear about my sanity. Urged to try antidepressants like millions of others in the United States, I experienced intolerable side effects, unexpected changes in my mental health, and the development of a chronic condition as a result. As I navigated the mental health system, trying to advocate for myself despite being "crazy," the stigma and shame associated with my diagnosis, and the lack of compassion and communication by those in the medical profession made me question nearly everything about myself. Confused about where personality ends and illness begins, how much of illness can be blamed on genetics and environment, and how to trust a brain and body that has been labeled wrong, I turned to narrative to make sense of the experience. ^ This book explores the stories we tell about madness—those we allow and those we forbid, the ways narratives from the mentally ill differ from narratives from the medical community, and the stories that fill in the gaps between patient and prescription, individuals and the broader community, and above all, the past and the present. Examining the history of mental illness in America from Quaker moral facilities to asylums, physical to chemical treatments, this book explores the gendered nature of madness, the danger of diagnosis, and the complex and often constructed definition of sanity, to try to evaluate how we treat patients and ourselves, and to determine why mental illness continues to increase in the United States despite so many "cures."^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Mental Health|Literature, General|Women's Studies

Recommended Citation

Montgomery, Sarah Fawn, "We're all mad here: An American pharma-memoir" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3689639.