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Biography & Autobiography Medical

The Becoming

A Memoir

by (author) Nicole Luongo

Inanna Publications
Initial publish date
Aug 2021
Medical, Personal Memoirs, Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price

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The Becoming is a brutal account of mental illness by a woman who doesn’t believe in mental illness. As the author embarks on a PhD at the University of Oxford, a lifetime of addiction, eating disorders, and trauma culminates in an explosive hospital stay that sees her achieve liberation through psychosis. Her journey from terror to acceptance is grueling, and she makes meaning of it by weaving reflexive narrative with classic and nascent scholarship. Part phenomenological recounting, part social critique, the text disrupts biomedical approaches to altered states by exploring their emancipatory potential. It also illuminates how conventional mental health treatment pathologizes human suffering. In doing so, The Becoming contributes to anti-psychiatry and Mad studies projects, each asking, “What does it mean to be normal?” and “Should we be sane in an insane world?”

About the author

Nicole Luongo is a thirty-year old settler of Italian and German descent. She holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in medical sociology from the University of British Columbia. Her research interests--disordered eating, substance abuse, and the social production of Madness-- are born of lived experience. As a young person, Nicole faced housing-deprivation on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and witnessed first-hand the stigma and violence associated with socio-economic and other forms of oppression. Since then, Nicole has been involved in initiatives related to housing justice and drug policy reform. She is a proud member of VANDU (the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users) and presently teaches college-level sociology while plotting her next move. She lives in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Nicole Luongo's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Gritty and courageous. Powerfully written. A compelling read."
—Helen Humphreys, author of The Evening Chorus


"Vivid and at times lyrical in its storytelling, this memoir is a thought-provoking exposé and politicization of madness. It is clearly written and highly readable yet provides a depth of analysis not often read outside academic texts. Nicole Luongo's The Becoming stands as an important contribution to both the field of Mad studies and to autobiography as craft."
—Brenda LeFrançois, University Research Professor at Memorial University and co-editor of Mad Matters


"The Becoming is a fast-paced narrative that dives headlong into what it means to live while oscillating between states of being variously described as ‘eating disorders,’ ‘mental disorders,’ and ‘substance use disorders.’ Luongo’s memoir digs beneath diagnostic labels to portray life at the edge of life and death in a virtuoso performance of autobiographical writing that reframes the meaning of success and failure, loyalty and betrayal.”
—Dr. Richard A. Ingram


"In her book Nicole Luongo mixes autobiographical reflection with academic analysis about her experiences of madness, addiction and support systems, or lack thereof. She comes across as neither a forlorn saint nor a hapless victim but instead as someone trying to figure out what is going on around her and inside her mind while coming to terms with her own tumultuous life. The thoughts that cascade throughout the frenetic pace of this book reflect on homelessness, addiction, relationships, suicide, psychiatry, the academy and what to do next. Her work raises more questions than answers about meanings of madness, self-care and the need for supports outside the medical model of mental illness. As such, prepare to be confronted as much as to be consoled about the place of mad people in contemporary society."
—Geoffrey Reaume, Critical Disability Studies, York University

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