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Life Inside

Life Inside

A Memoir

The patient is an ascetically pretty 15½-year-old white female. She is intelligent, fearful, extremely anxious, and depressed. Her rage is poorly controlled and inappropriately expressed.
Diagnostic Impression: Program for social recovery in a supportive and structured environment appears favorable.
Life Inside
In 1967, three months before her sixteenth birthday, Mindy Lewis was sent to a state psychiatric hospital by court order. She had been skipping school, smoking pot, and listening to too much Dylan. Her mother, at a loss for what else to do, decided that Mindy remain in state custody until she turned eighteen and became a legal, law-abiding, "healthy" adult.
Life Inside is Mindy's story about her coming-of-age during those tumultuous years. In honest, unflinching prose, she paints a richly textured portrait of her stay on a psychiatric ward -- the close bonds and rivalries among adolescent patients, the politics and routines of institutional life, the extensive use of medication, and the prevalence of life-altering misdiagnoses. But this memoir also takes readers on a journey of recovery as Lewis describes her emergence into adulthood and her struggle to transcend the stigma of institutionalization. Bracingly told, and often terrifying in its truths, Life Inside is a life-affirming memoir that informs as it inspires.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743411509 | 
  • November 2003
List Price $22.99
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Intake

The taxi rolls north along the West Side Highway. I sit in the back-seat next to my mother, six inches of highly charged space between us. Turning my face away as far as possible, I look out at the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge growing larger by degrees. I'm filled with conflicting emotions: fear, anger, defiance. My life as I know it is about to end. They're going to lock me up. And it's all her fault.

My mother's face wears a familiar shutdown blankness. For just a second I wish I could reach out and touch her, ending the war between us. I would revert to the nice, accommodating child I'd been,... see more

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