Norah Mary Vincent
Norah Mary Vincent (September 20, 1968 – July 6, 2022) was an American writer. She was a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a quarterly columnist on politics and culture for the national gay and lesbian news magazine The Advocate. She was a columnist for The Village Voice and Salon.com. Her writing appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times, New York Post, The Washington Post and other periodicals.
Norah Mary Vincent was born in Detroit, and grew up both there and in London, where her father was employed as a lawyer for the Ford Motor Company. She attended Williams College, where she graduated with a BA in philosophy in 1990, before undertaking graduate studies at Boston College. She also worked as an editor for Free Press.
Self-Made Man: My Year Disguised as a Man
She gained particular attention in 2006 for her book, Self-Made Man: My Year Disguised as a Man, detailing her experiences when she lived as a man for eighteen months. In writing the book Vincent set aside her personal biases and preconceived notions about men & masculinity and gave a fair assessment of the differing experiences of men and women.
Vincent's book Voluntary Madness (2008) relates her experiences as an inpatient in three institutions for mentally ill patients: "a ward in a public city hospital, a private Midwestern institution, and a pricey New Age clinic." She criticized doctors who she claimed were unapproachable, noting that too many relied on drugs as therapy, while others addressed only symptoms instead of their underlying causes.
Vincent's book also addresses the question of pseudopatients and those who remained ill because of their lack of willingness to cooperate in their therapy.
Personal Life, Views, and Death
Vincent was described as a libertarian who was critical of postmodernism and multiculturalism. She did not believe that transgender people were the sex they identified as, leading her to be accused of bigotry. In an article for The Village Voice, she wrote: "[Transsexuality] signifies the death of the self, the soul, that good old-fashioned indubitable 'I' so beloved of Descartes, whose great adage 'I think, therefore I am' has become an ontological joke on the order of 'I tinker, and there I am.'"
In Voluntary Madness, Vincent details her decade-long history with treatment-resistant depression, saying: "...my brain was never quite the same after I zapped it with that first course of SSRIs." The mental strain of maintaining a false identity during the making of Self-Made Man ultimately caused a depressive breakdown, leading Vincent to admit herself to a locked psychiatric facility.
Vincent died via assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland on July 6, 2022, aged 53. Her death was not reported until August 2022.
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