Norah Vincent

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Norah Vincent is an American writer.

Vincent was a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies from its 2001 inception[1] to 2003[citation needed]. She has also had columns at,[2] The Advocate,[3] the Los Angeles Times,[4][5] and the Village Voice.[6]

Self-Made Man[edit]

Vincent's book Self-Made Man retells an eighteen-month experiment in which she disguised herself as a man.[7] This follows in the tradition of undercover journalism such as Black Like Me. Vincent talked about the experience in HARDtalk extra on BBC on April 21, 2006 and described her experiences in male-male and male-female relationships. She joined an all-male bowling club, joined a men's therapy group, went to a strip club, dated women, and used her knowledge as a lapsed Catholic[8][9] to visit monks in a cloister.[10] Vincent writes about how the only time she has ever been considered excessively feminine was during her stint as a man: her alter ego, Ned, was assumed to be gay on several occasions, and features which in her as a woman had been seen as “butch” became oddly effeminate when seen in a man. (She is a lesbian.) Vincent asserts that, since the experiment, she has never been more glad to be female.[8]

Voluntary Madness[edit]

Her most recent book is Voluntary Madness, about her experiences as an inpatient in three different mental hospitals. Suffering from depression after her eighteen months living disguised as a man, Vincent felt she was a danger to herself. On the advice of her psychologist she committed herself to a mental institution. She spent time in three different institutions – one urban, public and ill-funded; one small-town; and one private and expensive. She found some parts of the mental health care system beset by arrogant doctors and over-reliance on drugs as therapy, while others addressed merely the symptoms instead of their underlying causes.

Although Vincent did not gain access to the hospital by means of deception, her exposé can be compared to Ten Days in a Mad-House by undercover reporter Nellie Bly, written more than a century previously (1887). The Rosenhan experiment in the 1970s also provides a comparison of life inside several mental hospitals.


Vincent was the subject of much criticism, along with Andrew Sullivan and Camille Paglia, in Richard Goldstein's 2003 book Homocons: The Rise of the Gay Right. In this book he discusses her transphobia amongst other things.


  1. ^ "Independent gay forum: Norah Vincent". Independent gay forum. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  2. ^ "Norah Vincent -". Retrieved 2006-02-20.  (requires allowing cookies)
  3. ^ "Last Word". The Advocate.  Issue 903.
  4. ^ Vincent, Norah (2001-10-25). "Getting a grip is all we can do". Los Angeles Times. p. B17. Archived from the original on 2001-11-05. 
  5. ^ Vincent, Norah (2002-11-07). "Leftists Turn Blind Eye to Iraqis' Plight". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2002-11-17. 
  6. ^ Vincent, Norah (2001-02-06). "Higher ed". Village Voice. Retrieved 2006-02-20. 
  7. ^ "Double agent". The Guardian (London). 2006-03-18. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  8. ^ a b "A self-made man. Woman goes undercover to experience life as a man". 20/20 (ABC news). 2006-01-20. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  9. ^ Vincent, Norah (2007). Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again. New York: Penguin Books. p. 144. ISBN 1-4295-2028-0. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  10. ^ "Guardian Book Extracts "Double Agent"". Book Extracts (London: The Guardian). March 18, 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 

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