Author: Ruth Simkin

Publisher: Ekstasis Editions Canada

ISBN: 9 781897 430545

Click Here To Purchase The Jagged Years of Ruthie J.

The Jagged Years of Ruthie J., by author Ruth Simkin is a memoir about the author’s painful adolescent years “incarcerated” in a psychiatric institution. Chestnut Lodge in Rockville Maryland, a facility that treats the seriously mentally ill. It was there that the author’s parents trustingly, however naively, placed their daughter in the hands of a psychiatrist who lacked compassion, misdiagnosed and goaded her into acting out her frustrations when she asked why she was placed in a psychiatric hospital for the seriously mentally ill population. Her questions were met with coldness and indifference exacerbating her anger causing her further problems; additional confinements, punishments, restrictions and physical restraints. Eventually, the author meets a new psychiatrist, Dr. Doupe who says he found the answer to her problem. She has epilepsy explaining the car accident that landed her in Chestnut Lodge, as well as her history of seizures and uncontrollable behaviors. She is not mentally ill, or anti-social as was suggested. The author is hopeful. Perhaps now she can go home.

Her parents are unconvinced. In 1963, “epilepsy was considered worse than having a mental illness. A word that could barely by spoken,” the author explains her parent’s reaction to Dr. Doupe’s diagnosis of epilepsy. They request a second opinion searching for a more traditional “psychiatric” diagnosis; anything is better than epilepsy.

The Jagged Years of Ruthie J., by author Ruth Simkin, takes the reader back to the psychiatric treatment days of the 1960’s. The reader cannot help but ask-have things changed? Insulin Coma Therapy rendering a person unconscious, a treatment for Schizophrenia is no longer used; nor is the practice of wrapping patients in freezing sheets until the person is totally mummified and sedated, a standard of care described in Chestnut Lodge psychiatric in-patient facility. However, the lack of compassion and empathy, excessive sedation and medication, misdiagnosis, a theme in the Jagged Years of Ruthie J may always be a part of some health care settings. As will prescribing psychotropic medications with black box warnings that are known to increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and teenagers. Ethical and philosophical questions were stimulated reading the memoir. The answers will be left to the author who later became a doctor working, until her retirement, in the field of family medicine. The memoir, The Jagged Years of Ruthie J captures the author’s challenging and painful adolescent years, her seizures finally ending, mysteriously disappearing, a thing of the past.

Click Here To Purchase The Jagged Years of Ruthie J.