THE HEART TOO LONG SUPPRESSED: A Chronicle of Mental Illness

Carol Hebald, Author, Thomas S. Szasz, Foreword by . Northeastern Univ. $24.95 (244p) ISBN 978-1-55553-482-0

After a lifetime of mental illness, marked by repeated suicide attempts and hospitalizations, and a parade of ineffectual psychiatrists, Hebald, at the age of 44, threw her pharmacopoeia into the ocean and walked away from therapy. Since then, she has lived mostly free from madness, managing to earn her living as a writing teacher and to produce this cathartic memoir of her sexual and emotional abuse. Closer to her father than her mother, Hebald was devastated at age five when he died of cancer. Years later, in therapy, she remembered that he "made love" to her on his deathbed. Physically abused by her older sister, Hebald found no ally in their babysitter, who locked her in dark closets while Hebald's mother took over the family business. Hebald's only escape, at the age of six, was to go to the movies alone, inviting men in the theater to "play" with her, so she could experience the pleasure she had with her father. Her schooling was a disaster; by her early teens, Hebald was unable to recognize or express her feelings. One of her therapists noted Hebald's difficulty in distinguishing fantasy from reality; her readers may also find some of her story hard to believe. Her wholesale repudiation of psychiatry, though understandable given such experiences, may seem extreme to many readers. Yet Hebald's writing is smooth, her narrative is gripping and her eventual recovery provides an inspirational ending to her harrowing tale. (May 23)

Forecast:Hebald's book combines solid prose with an Oprah-esque saga of overcoming adversity. Author publicity will help this book, especially given its inspirational ending.

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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