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Uncivil Commitment: A Memoir of my Daughter's Struggles with Bipolar Disorder and the Mental Health System
Hearing the door lock behind you is inconceivable. There is no fixed sentence, no deliberation by a jury, yet the locks and barred windows are real. The legal term is ‘involuntary civil commitment,’ yet too frequently there is nothing civil about the “healing” experience. In this memoir, Thea Amidov Esperanza invites the reader along on an unsettling journey following Serafina, her artist daughter, from bipolar diagnosis, drug trials, electric shock treatment, to near-fatal suicide attempt to psych ward. Throughout, Serafina struggles as so many others have, seeking relief from her illness, yet too often finding that the mental health care system provides as many obstacles as pathways to healing.

Kirkus Review wrote:

Esperanza writes affectingly but also with impressive

 objectivity—the drama unfolds almost like a novel, but she musters temperance, especially noticeable when

she comments on doctors who were largely antagonistic. For example, she is remarkably magnanimous when discussing

the physician who blocked Serafina’s release from the psychiatric unit: “I realize how fraught his work was with failures,

with negativity, with combat rather than cooperation. And maybe some part of him wanted it to be different.” This

memoir is both wise and philosophically rigorous, and should be read by anyone curious about the modern treatment of mental illness.

A reflection on psychiatric care that combines emotional poignancy and intellectual astuteness.