'Born in 1947, Peter Kocan went down in the history of Australian fiction for having written a pair of companion novellas that are largely inspired from his experience as an inmate when he was incarcerated at Long Bay Correctional Center (Sydney) and then confined in Ward 6 for the Criminally Insane in Morrisset Psycological Hospital (New South Wales). When he turned 19, he attempted to shoot dead the then-leader of the Australian Labor Party Arthur Calwell with a sawn-off .22 rifle. At the time of the trial he was diagnosed as a borderline schizophrenic and condemned to life imprisonment, a sentence that was commuted to ten years of treatment that gave him and insiders knowledge of psychiatric institutions.
Published after a time when asylum narratives were starting to make their mark in Australian fiction with novels such as David Ireland's The Flesheaters (1972) and Walter Adamson's The Institution (1976), The Treatment (1980) and its sequel The Cure (1983) chronicle Len Tarbutt's institutionalisation - a nineteen-year-old youngster confined in the maximum-security cell of a mental hospital to serve a life sentence. On another level, these two second-person semi-fictions can also be interpreted as a national allegory of Australian penal settlement, which explicates the ruler-ruled relationship through the establishment of a panoptic repressive system.' (Author's introduction)