With cheeky, college-age lesbiannhippies running in and out of hernoffice, yelling and playing rock music,nshe did scream: “I lost my tempernwhile trying to write a check.” Hernperfectly natural outburst “proved” tonthe communards that she had enteredna manic stage and was losing her mind.nThey ganged up on her and naggednher to take her Lithium, and evennthough she was the owner of the farm,nshe was rendered helpless by the sacrednstructure of commune life: “Impudentnkid, I think again, aware that ourndemocratic style does not really grantnme any literal authority over anyone; itnis all to be a product of personality, andnmine is in ruins.”nSoon these committed pacifists, includingnher own lesbian lover, a proponentnof every conceivable civil right,ndecided to use force: “Her hand approachesnmy mouth so fast I hardly seenit; she is forcing the pill between mynlips, her other hand reaching to holdnmy chin, as one forces a child to takenpills, even a dog. Sheila’s a paid-upnmember of the American Civil LibertiesnUnion.”nTo her terrified disbelief, her sister,nher lover, and several friends tried tonget around New York’s involuntaryncommitment law (“It’s done all thentime”) to have her institutionalized sonshe would be forced to take Lithium.nTheir excuse was that she was spendingnmoney like water—what was oncenthe sin of waste is now a “symptom” ofnmania to those of little faith in anythingnbut the religion of psychiatry.nIn commitment interviews her everynnatural reaction conspired against her;nIrish as Paddy’s pig and endowed withnan artistic temperament, she nonethelessnhad to prove her sanity by followingnthe law of the loony bin: “Keepnyour temper and never raise yournvoice.” American cultural ignorancenwas another nemesis: a chance literarynreference, natural enough for a writer,nto a scene in a Dumas novel made thendoctors think she was hallucinating,nand she had to refrain from laughingntoo hysterically when a self-satisfiednfeminist psychiatrist complimented hernwith “You didn’t decompose.” Shenmeant that Millett remained admirablyncalm during an examination.nMatters came to a head when Millettnwent to Ireland and got involvednwith Bernadette Devlin, the Irish La­n44/CHRONICLESnbour Party, and the hunger strikers innUlster. If Franz Kafka had written thenscreenplay of The Snake Pit, it wouldnstill fall short of Millett’s description ofnwhat happened to her in the Auld Sodnwhen the commitment cabal backnhome joined forces with the Irish constabularynto have her snatched from thenairport and dumped in an insane asylumnin the wilds of County Clare.nHere, in a scabrous ward of moaningnold women whose families no longernwanted them, she is sedated not onlynwith Lithium but several other tranquilizers,nbecoming a prisoner of “thentriumph of ignorance: television andnnarcotic fantasy,” until her Irish politicalnallies gain her release.nThis is a gripping and valuable book,n• the kind we have been getting latelynfrom former feminist honchos whonseem to be sidling up to conservatism.nAnti-porn activist Andrea Dworkinnnow hates the ACLU, Susan Brownmillernhas turned into a starchy spinsternwho unabashedly “blamed the victim”nin her Hedda Nussbaum novel, andnnow Kate Millett has declared war onnthe insidious mental health industrynand the passivity of a citizenry thatnaccepts prescription pillsnnot only for manic depressionnbut for the blues, ordinaryndepression, and alcoholism, evennfor schoolchildren who arenhyperactive . . . whatevernsynthetic they are all eating sonobediently has become a formnof social control . . . becausenthis psychiatrist thing is in itselfna form of social control.nUnfortunately, she fingers the wrongnvillain. She blames “fascism,” “Reagan’snnew America,” the Pope and thenCIA for pioneering the authoritarianismnthat psychiatry has adopted, unable ornunwilling to see that it is her own liberalnside of the political spectrum that enshrinednpsychiatry in the first place,nbeginning with the fashionable craze fornFreud in the 20’s down to today’snconstant admonitions to “seek professionalnhelp” for the slightest upset. Thenperfectibility of mankind, whethernthrough yammering on the couch ornthrough biochemistry, is a liberal goal.nThe conservative takes his leaf fromnSeneca: “Scorn pain; either it will gonaway or you will.” Conservatives don’tnbelieve in coddling people, but neithernnndo we kill them with the kindness thatnMillett endured.nThis is a personal story; she saysnnothing about the need for involuntaryncommitment among the raving homeless,nmany of whom were sprung fromnmental institutions by an erring liberalismnthat likes to extend freedom forngroups while restricting it for individuals.nExcept for spready analyses of farmingnproblems and muzzy descriptions ofnlesbian ecstasies (“the billy goat of ournperfect shamelessness” unconsciouslyncombines the two), Millett’s writingnhere is highly readable and effective,nmarked by a self-described style of “runof-the-mouthnAmericanese” that is oftenningratiating.nThe book’s most pleasant surprise isnher casual and unselfconscious repudiationnof radical feminism as she watchesna horse:nSuddenly the maleness, thenmajesty of its maleness, opensnitself to me and I love it, reverenit. Remember in a burst how Inhave always loved it, maleness,nmen themselves, all thingsnmasculine. … I had forgotten,ntoo, its place in things, its halfnof the universe. As if in thenyears of feminism and the neednto square imbalance it hadnseemed necessary to negatenwhat claimed too much fornitselfnThat should soothe the reviewer whonsaid that reading Sexual Politics was liken”sitting with your testicles in a nutcracker.”nFlorence King’s new book, Lump Itnor Leave It, is out this month fromnSt. Martin’s Press.nOur Tribal Pastsnby Tim HunternAlbion’s Seed: Four BritishnFolkways in Americanby David Hackett FischernNew York and Oxford: OxfordnUniversity Press; 944 pp., $39.95nThis readable and remarkable booknis the first in David HackettnFischer’s projected series regardingn