Norah Vincent

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Norah Vincent is an American writer. She was born in Detroit, Michigan on September 20, 1968.[1] She moved with her family to England in 1979 and attended the American School in London, where she graduated in 1986.[2] She went on to attend Williams College where she graduated with a BA in Philosophy in 1990.[3] Vincent was a weekly columnist for The Los Angeles Times and a quarterly columnist on politics and culture for the national gay and lesbian newsmagazine The Advocate. She has also been a columnist for The Village Voice and Her writing has appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Post and many more periodicals around the country.[4]


  • Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 2015)
  • Thy Neighbor (Viking Adult, 2012)
  • Voluntary Madness (Viking Adult, 2008)
  • Self-Made Man (Viking Adult, 2006)[4][5]

Self-Made Man[edit]

Vincent's book Self-Made Man retells an eighteen-month experiment in which she disguised herself as a man.[6] 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[7][8] to visit monks in a cloister.[9] 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. Vincent asserts that, since the experiment, she has never been more glad to be female.[7]

I really like being a woman. ... I like it more now because I think it's more of a privilege.

— Norah Vincent

Voluntary Madness[edit]

Vincent's book Voluntary Madness is about her experiences as an inpatient in three different mental hospitals. Suffering from depression after her eighteen months living disguised as a man, she felt she was a danger to herself. On the advice of her psychologist she committed herself to a mental institution. Vincent 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.


  1. ^ Vincent, Norah. Family Tree Now Retrieved April 3, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Retrieved April 3, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Retrieved April 3, 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Double agent". The Guardian. London. 2006-03-18. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Guardian Book Extracts "Double Agent"". Book Extracts. London: The Guardian. March 18, 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 

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