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When a woman alone in the world with her three babies sees a psychiatrist one day in an attempt to overcome her fears, she has no idea that her world is about to be turned upside down with just one prescription.

Shared through the eyes of her inner child, Little Porcupine guides others through the complex American psychiatric system as she is led from one doctor to another and from one pill to several. When Little Porcupine is finally diagnosed with a disease triggered by her initial medication, she receives another pill that soon causes traumatic side effects that send her to the psyche ward. As Little Porcupine goes round and round inside a system that eventually declares her incompetent, it soon becomes evident that she is the only one who can make things better as she summons inner strength to survive and learns to find comfort, love, and happiness through creative pursuits.

Little Porcupine Goes to the Psyche Ward offers a compelling glimpse inside the American psychiatric system through the eyes of a tormented woman’s inner child as she bravely stands up for what is right and fights for her future.



Prozac causes Systemic Lupus Erythemetosus, a horrible disease. It has taken over twenty years for psychiatrists to acknowledge this FACT. This is a book written from my inner child to your inner child. IT IS NOT A CHILDREN’S BOOK.

The Plot

Little Porcupine Goes to the Psyche Ward is the dark tale of a porcupine at the mercy of a fatally flawed psychiatric system.

Little Porcupine is painfully fearful due to being alone in the world, responsible for three young porcupines. She is so afraid she thinks she is going crazy. So she sees a psychiatrist. He gives her prozac. This drug gives Little Porcupine a horrible side effect, systemic lupus erythemetosus. Worse disease you can have next to cancer. More drugs like steroids and tranquilizers are added which complicate the situation. The doctors do nothing but make things worse. Little Porcupine seeks help at the hospital but that only turns into a two year long misadventure with total insomnia. There are many interesting if not shocking animal patients that Little Porcupine meets. Doctors keep her on the steroid which is causing her mania and then declare her incompetent in a mock trial!! The “experts” do not expect her to ever function again.

Escaping the mental health system, Little Porcupine finds photography her best therapy. She builds a darkroom. Then she meets Jack Rabbit who buys her Photoshop and moves her into his life. Little Porcupine has PTSD from being in the Psyche Ward.  By the end of the story Little Porcupine is finally sleeping and feels safe. She gets a photography job, which is the vocational therapy she needed in the first place!! To be fair, she is also on the right medication. But getting to that point was two years of plain torture.

Motivation for the Story

My name is Frances Dale and I am the author of Little Porcupine Goes to the Psyche Ward. My motivation for writing this was to explain to myself what the heck had just happened to me!! This was my self therapy. In a child like way I was able to tell the story indirectly using animals. I suppose it is like when children are traumatized and they use dolls or drawings to tell their story. A dear friend who is a library specialist insisted I find illustrators and get the book published. Now I want people to know that prozac can cause lupus and the good psychiatrists all know this. This is a well kept secret.

There is a big difference between the high class mental health facilities and the rest of the system. The reliance on drugs exceeds common sense. Once you’re on the psychiatric merry go round it is difficult for your brain to get off. This book tells what it is really like in a mental hospital. People tend to act like it’s the patients fault for having a mental disorder. If you have a rotten experience in the hospital, well, that’s what you get for being crazy. But brains have problems just like hearts or kidneys have problems. Few people visit anyone in a mental hospital. No one sends flowers.

Mental hospitals use to have art classes, play therapy, swimming pools. Cut backs have virtually eliminated most activities in most hospitals. The only exercise the depressed patients receive is walking in the halls. Photography and art and music are important in recovering from an episode of mental illness. But insurance companies don’t care.

Ultimately, places like John Hopkins genetics research department are looking to prevent these mental illnesses. There has to be a better way to deal with brain malfunctions.

People think that psychiatry is state of the art, very scientifically advanced. It is actually rather primitive. There’s a lot of guesswork. Luck is a big factor. Not every shrink is a good diagnostician. You wouldn’t put up with this if we were talking a heart surgeon.

Themes of the Book

As for the themes of the book, the first theme is that Little Porcupine was raised in a fashion that caused her to be terrified socially. She needed psychotherapy and vocational therapy. But instead, she went to a psychiatrist who did not TALK to her, but rather gave her PILLS. When you go to a psychiatrist you get pills, whether you need them or not.

The second theme of the book is that prozac can cause lupus and no doctor will warn you of this possibility. The third theme of the book is that many psychiatrists don’t know what they are doing. In twenty five years, I have found only three that have been both empathetic and exceptional diagnosticians. Most were unremarkable and cold.  A few were actually sadistic. And not all of these were Medicaid doctors.

The fourth theme of the book is that the Arts help people experiencing a mental problem. This is the mantra of drop-in Art Centers for the mentally ill. That the arts are taken out of mental hospitals speaks volumes of the insurance industry. The art of photography was Little Porcupines best therapy.

And the fifth theme of the book is that a true love, an ardent love which is a love worth having, can help a person with mental/emotional problems.  Without the lithium I dare say Little Porcupine might have driven Jack Rabbit away. But had Little Porcupine been raised with any affection, encouragement and positive socialization, she might not have needed the lithium.  Jack Rabbit was willing to go through codependency books and meetings, Inner Child work with John Bradshaw, Transactional Analysis to undo the patterns of Critical Parental roles, SLAA and general couples therapy to transition from power/control to acceptance/love. So the love of a mate helped Little Porcupine. You don’t figure things out in a vacuum. You only challenge your patterns in a relationship.

The Psyche Ward is like a POW camp.