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The Becoming

a memoir by Nicole Luongo

Print: 978-1-77133-813-4
260 Pages
June 24, 2021

The Becoming is a brutal account of mental illness by a woman who doesn’t believe in mental illness. A lifetime of addiction, eating disorders, and trauma culminates explosively after the author begins a PhD at the University of Oxford, and while in hospital she is liberated through psychosis. Her journey from terror to self-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 bio-medical 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 of which asks, “What does it mean to be normal?” and “Should we be sane in an insane world?”

The Becoming


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.

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