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Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania (2002)

por Andy Behrman

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2646101,351 (3.67)13
Biography & Autobiography. Psychology. Nonfiction. HTML:

Electroboy is an emotionally frenzied memoir that reveals with kaleidoscopic intensity the terrifying world of manic depression. For years Andy Behrman hid his raging mania behind a larger-than-life personality. He sought a high wherever he could find one and changed jobs the way some people change outfits: filmmaker, PR agent, art dealer, stripper-whatever made him feel like a cartoon character, invincible and bright. Misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and psychotherapists for years, his condition exacted a terrible price: out-of-control euphoric highs and tornadolike rages of depression that put his life in jeopardy.

Ignoring his crescendoing illness, Behrman struggled to keep up appearances, clinging to the golden-boy image he had cultivated in his youth. But when he turned to art forgery, he found himself the subject of a scandal lapped up by the New York media, then incarcerated, then under house arrest. And for the first time the golden boy didn't have a ready escape hatch from his unraveling life. Ingesting handfuls of antidepressants and tranquilizers and feeling his mind lose traction, he opted for the last resort: electroshock therapy.

At once hilarious and harrowing, Electroboy paints a mesmerizing portrait of a man held hostage by his in-satiable desire to consume. Along the way, it shows us the New York that never sleeps: a world of strip clubs, after-hours dives, and twenty-four-hour coffee shops, whose cheap seductions offer comfort to the city's lonely souls. This unforgettable memoir is a unique contribution to the literature of mental illness and introduces a writer whose energy may well keep you up all night.

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Behrman doesn't tell the reader what mania is like; he shows it. Reading Behrman is exhausting in an illuminating way. The frenetic exposition enacts mania nicely. In some ways, so does Behrman's emotional flatness in recounting some of his experiences. The memoir tends toward the linear recounting of events rather than the construction of the more-complex narrative I would have wished for, and I would have preferred more self-reflection at points throughout. Still, it's a very good, unvarnished look at how intoxicating, and how debilitating, bipolar disorder can be. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
I have read over a hundred books that address mental illness from various angles. Electroboy is easily one of the best, and absolutely one of my favorites. Movie coming soon! ( )
  NathanDaniels75 | Oct 17, 2012 |
Phew! This book is exhausting to read. As the book opens, the author, in a manic state, is constantly on the go seeking ever increasing stimulation. His adventures include drugs, multi-partner sex, spending sprees, distant travel, business ideas, criminal activity, and late night wandering. The co-morbidities of his mania, particularly his obsessive tendencies and trichotillomania, never slow him down.

The beginning of the book was a puzzle to me because I was expecting to read about manic and depressive cycling. I was waiting for the mania to end and then the depression and the psychiatric visits to kick in. If there was depression at the start, I failed to recognize it. I also could not understand the little attention the author gave to his psychiatric care throughout most of the book. Perhaps I needed to read between the lines a bit more. He spoke more of it toward the end of the book.

Andy does not take much time at first to reflect on his feelings. I’m assuming that this is either part of his condition or simply denial. I'm always interested in motivating factors and would have liked to have read more about that. Despite this flaw, I think that Andy's memoir is certainly written in a way that makes for sustainable and interesting reading.

While reading about Andy, I often found myself thinking of people in my own life who have carried on with the same sort of reckless abandon, living for the mania of the moment without stepping back to dwell on consequences of particular behaviors. I never really considered a person's simple inability to do this. This inability became apparent in Andy's story. I realized how much of a burden this is on family and friends who often feel hopeless in attempts to intervene.

I would recommend this book for its detailed inside look at the life of a person with bipolar disorder. It also presents a case for use of electroconvulsive therapy as an adjunct to treating this disorder when all else fails. This frightens me, but I can see that it is sometimes necessary as a last resort. I appreciate the clarity with which Andy transmits his experiences. For his willingness to share his story with others, I am truly grateful to the author. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Mar 28, 2009 |
A fun read if your into books about crazy people. ( )
  annaleeinwonderland | Jul 28, 2007 |
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Biography & Autobiography. Psychology. Nonfiction. HTML:

Electroboy is an emotionally frenzied memoir that reveals with kaleidoscopic intensity the terrifying world of manic depression. For years Andy Behrman hid his raging mania behind a larger-than-life personality. He sought a high wherever he could find one and changed jobs the way some people change outfits: filmmaker, PR agent, art dealer, stripper-whatever made him feel like a cartoon character, invincible and bright. Misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and psychotherapists for years, his condition exacted a terrible price: out-of-control euphoric highs and tornadolike rages of depression that put his life in jeopardy.

Ignoring his crescendoing illness, Behrman struggled to keep up appearances, clinging to the golden-boy image he had cultivated in his youth. But when he turned to art forgery, he found himself the subject of a scandal lapped up by the New York media, then incarcerated, then under house arrest. And for the first time the golden boy didn't have a ready escape hatch from his unraveling life. Ingesting handfuls of antidepressants and tranquilizers and feeling his mind lose traction, he opted for the last resort: electroshock therapy.

At once hilarious and harrowing, Electroboy paints a mesmerizing portrait of a man held hostage by his in-satiable desire to consume. Along the way, it shows us the New York that never sleeps: a world of strip clubs, after-hours dives, and twenty-four-hour coffee shops, whose cheap seductions offer comfort to the city's lonely souls. This unforgettable memoir is a unique contribution to the literature of mental illness and introduces a writer whose energy may well keep you up all night.

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