Straitjackets and Lunch Money

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.

  • Author: Katya Cengal
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 340
  • Dimensions: 9 in H | 6 in W
  • On sale date: September 5, 2023
  • Publisher: Woodhall Press

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