The Heart Too Long Suppressed by Carol Hebald
A Chronicle of Mental Illness

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Following a psychiatrist's prediction that it was only a question of time before she committed suicide, something inside Carol Hebald clicked. Thirteen years later, the forty-four-year-old former actress threw her medication into the ocean, an act that would have panicked the dozens of doctors and friends who had witnessed her mental problems over three decades. Symbolic of her rupture with therapy, that act may have saved her life.

This beautifully crafted memoir tells of Hebald's spiral into mental illness from the late 1930s through the 1970s and the role hospitals and therapists played in that descent. She describes the frightening blur between reality and fantasy that fueled her childhood imagination, and recounts episodes of sexual and emotional abuse. By adolescence, acting had become both her life's ambition and a defense mechanism to create emotions she otherwise could not feel.

While pursuing a promising career on the New York stage in the 1950s and 1960s, Hebald, seeking someone to trust with her story, went from one therapist to the next. After a breakdown, subsequent hospitalizations, and struggles with mis-diagnoses, medications, and shock treatments, one thing became clear: Hebald still had an inner voice. Learning to trust and exercise that voice through writing became central to her recovery.

Hebald's compelling memoir reads like a novel, with painful experiences described in bold, even humorous, detail. From abortion, to marriage, to gender bias, Hebald engages social issues confronting late twentieth-century women and questions the treatment of mental illness. This is a disturbing yet inspiring tale of transcendence for anyone who has battled authority for the control of one's mind.

About Carol Hebald

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Carol Hebald was an actress for twelve years both on and off Broadway. A former Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas, she is the author of Three Blind Mice: Two Short Novels and the play Martha. Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary reviews. She lives in New York City. Thomas S. Szasz, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, at Syracuse University. He is the author of The Myth of Mental Illness.
Published May 4, 2001 by Northeastern University Press. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Hebald (Three Blind Mice, 1989) here maps out her journey through a variety of mental institutions in her quest for a cure to her suicidal tendencies and general misery.

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

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