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The Becoming

a memoir by Nicole Luongo

Print: 978-1-77133-813-4
260 Pages
August 20, 2021

The Becoming is a brutal account of mental illness by a woman who doesn’t believe in mental illness. As the author embarks on a PhD at the University of Oxford, a lifetime of addiction, eating disorders, and trauma culminates in an explosive hospital stay that sees her achieve liberation through psychosis. Her journey from terror to 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 biomedical 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 asking, “What does it mean to be normal?” and “Should we be sane in an insane world?”

“Gritty and courageous. Powerfully written. A compelling read.”
—Helen Humphreys, author of The Evening Chorus

“Vivid and at times lyrical in its storytelling, this memoir is a thought-provoking exposé and politicization of madness. It is clearly written and highly readable yet provides a depth of analysis not often read outside academic texts. Nicole Luongo’s The Becoming stands as an important contribution to both the field of Mad studies and to autobiography as craft.”
—Brenda LeFrançois, University Research Professor at Memorial University and co-editor of Mad Matters

The Becoming is a fast-paced narrative that dives headlong into what it means to live while oscillating between states of being variously described as ‘eating disorders,’ ‘mental disorders,’ and ‘substance use disorders.’ Luongo’s memoir digs beneath diagnostic labels to portray life at the edge of life and death in a virtuoso performance of autobiographical writing that reframes the meaning of success and failure, loyalty and betrayal.”
—Dr. Richard A. Ingram

The Becoming


Nicole Luongo is a writer and educator living on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (colonially “Vancouver”). She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in sociology from the University of British Columbia and approximately 1/60 of a PhD from the University of Oxford. Her paid and unpaid work has been informed by experiential knowledge and is situated at the intersections of Madness, disability, drug policy, and housing justice. She is figuring out what she likes.

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