The Jagged Years of Ruthie J


This is a true story of Ruthie J, an eighteen year old who numbs herself with sex and vodka, fights with the police, and ends up locked up in a mental institution.  It is the 1960s. Inexplicably bizarre behaviour, which is eventually diagnosed as epilepsy, considered to be a mental illness at that time, ultimately lands Ruthie J in an American mental institution.  Traumatized by a sadistic psychiatrist, who is himself subsequently found to be insane, she endeavours to hang onto her own sanity in an environment of utter lunacy. Told by staff and her mentally unstable psychiatrist that she is a “lifer”, Ruthie J struggles to extricate herself from the surrounding insanity of both patients and staff and goes on to become a successful physician.

With the use of flashbacks, she tells the story of her incarceration in Chestnut Lodge, Rockville, Maryland, an institution made (in)famous by the books (and movies) I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Lilith.

Desperate to take back the power robbed from her youth, Ruthie J breaks free of her emotional paralysis and incarceration to finish her education. Ruthie J’s story is both hilarious and heart wrenching.  Join Ruthie J as she takes you through the convoluted maze of life in a mental institution and out the other side: triumphant in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The story is important not only because of Ruthie J’s remarkable experiences – truth is really stranger than fiction - but because it reveals the attitudes of an era towards mental illness, epilepsy, gender inequality, and sexuality.

Few people, if any, have spent years locked up in a mental institution and emerged against overwhelming odds as noteworthy physicians.  Ruthie J becomes Dr. Ruth Simkin, an internationally renowned physician.  She is a skilled public speaker who gives voice to both the ex-mental patient and the physician.  She offers hope to those who find themselves in unthinkable circumstances and affirms the determination of the human spirit.

Dr. Ruth Simkin, author of The Jagged Years of Ruthie J, is currently accepting bookings for readings and signings of her books. For booking and further information, please contact her by clicking here.

Ruth Simkin is also available for inspirational speaking engagements.  For booking and further information, please contact her by clicking here.

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