Straitjackets and Lunch Money: A 10-year-old in a Psychosomatic Ward (Paperback)

Straitjackets and Lunch Money: A 10-year-old in a Psychosomatic Ward By Katya Cengel Cover Image

Straitjackets and Lunch Money: A 10-year-old in a Psychosomatic Ward (Paperback)

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Katya Cengel became patient number 090 71 51 at the Roth Psychosomatic Unit at Children's Hospital at Stanford in 1986. She was 10 years old. Overwhelmed by feelings of abandonment, worthlessness and anger at having to care for her depressed father, she wanted out. She found it the only way she knows how – by starving herself.


Thirty years later Katya, now a journalist, discovers her young age was not the only thing that made her hospital stay unusual. The idea of psychosomatic units themselves, where patients have dual medical and psychological diagnoses, was a revolutionary one, since largely fallen out of favor. Katya documents this, tracking down the doctors, psychologists and counselors who once cared for her.


What happened to her as a child is told in the voice of the troubled 10-year-old girl she once was. The two narratives unfold simultaneously. The result is a gut-wrenching account of childhood mental illness told from the inside interspersed with updates from experts in the field.

Katya Cengel is the author of Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) and Foreword INDIES winner From Chernobyl with Love and two other non-fiction books including Exiled featured in a California State Library curated collection. Katya reports from around the world for New York Times Magazine, Marie Claire and Smithsonian among others.

Product Details ISBN: 9781954907683
ISBN-10: 1954907680
Publisher: Woodhall Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Pages: 340
Language: English
“The memoir masterfully renders a personal story that casts a light on a neglected area of public health. Cengel successfully uses her journalistic skills to revisit this part of her life: “Now I can ask the questions I couldn’t as a child.” A harrowing but engrossing examination of pediatric care for readers interested in psychology and health.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Incredibly affecting …” – Jessica Zach, San Francisco Chronicle

“This memoir intertwines Cengel’s 10-year-old voice with expert insights, offering a harrowing glimpse into childhood mental struggles and the evolution of psychiatric care.” – Alta Journal

Straitjackets and Lunch Money is a marvel – a bracing account of the author’s childhood mental illness written with such lucid honesty, such palpable empathy, that the reader becomes immediately invested in the fortunes of each sick or lost child we meet. It is a wise and merciless book, humble and deeply brave. I can’t imagine what it cost Cengel to write this book, but I’m profoundly glad that she wrote it.” – Ted Scheinman, senior editor of Smithsonian magazine and author of Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan

“Katya’s early pain, showing up as anorexia, landed her in a med-psych ward at age ten: a speechless child tied down with cotton strips, force-fed through a tube. Fortunately, she found her voice on paper and a calling to tell the stories of other silenced children. Beautifully written, Straitjackets is a searing page-turner and wake-up call.” – Joan Steinau Lester, PEN-award winning author of Loving Before Loving: A Marriage in Black and White

“Katya Cengel’s heartbreaking, unsparing memoir Straitjackets is a clear-eyed look at what it’s like to be ten years old trying to starve yourself – as well as a deep examination into the flawed science used to treat her.” – Frances Dinkelspiel, New York Times bestselling author of Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and An Arsonist in the Vineyards of California and co-founder of Berkeleyside and Cityside

"A breathtaking, powerful read that will by turns break your heart and give you hope. Cengel writes with captivating nuance about childhood mental illness, loneliness, abandonment, the families we are born into and those we build around us. Straitjackets and Lunch Money is a must-read: thought-provoking, gripping and beautifully written." – Dallas Woodburn, award-winning author of The Best Week That Never Happened  
 

“For Cengel, as well as her fellow patients, finding ways to succeed at self-destructive behaviors—or to fantasize about succeeding—is an obsession that’s hard for her to shake. She narrates being there and being her with the immediacy and intensity of a novel.” —Joyce Thompson, River Teeth

“Katya Cengel’s heartbreaking, unsparing memoir Straitjackets is a clear-eyed look at what it’s like to be ten years old trying to starve yourself – as well as a deep examination into the flawed science used to treat her.” —Frances Dinkelspiel, New York Times bestselling author of Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and An Arsonist in the Vineyards of California and co-founder of Berkeleyside and Cityside

"A breathtaking, powerful read that will by turns break your heart and give you hope. Cengel writes with captivating nuance about childhood mental illness, loneliness, abandonment, the families we are born into and those we build around us. Straitjackets and Lunch Money is a must-read: thought-provoking, gripping and beautifully written."
Dallas Woodburn, award- winning author of The Best Week That Never Happened

“Katya’s early pain, showing up as anorexia, landed her in a med-psych ward at age ten: a speechless child tied down with cotton strips, force-fed through a tube. Fortunately, she found her voice on paper and a calling to tell the stories of other silenced children. Beautifully written, Straitjackets is a searing page-turner and wake-up call.” – Joan Steinau Lester, PEN-award winning author of Loving Before Loving: A Marriage in Black and White