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Binker

A Mind Unraveled

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Kurt Eichenwald is a journalist who has written several well-received books about business and business fraud.  One was made into a movie with Matt Damon (the "Infomer") and the other was the best book about the Enron debacle, "A Conspiracy of Fools."  I know his wife and I've met him a few times, but we are just casual acquaintances.

 

This book is very different.  It tells the story of his lifelong struggle with poorly-controlled epilepsy.  He suffered through bad diagnoses, poor medical care, and terrible treatment from the college he attended.  He grew up in Dallas, with a very normal, relatively-affluent childhood.  He had had staring spells as a child, which everyone dismissed as unimportant, but then when he was 17, he had a full-fledged seizure that was obviously significant.  His father was a doctor who mostly did medical research and so he thought that's the kind of doctor Kurt should go to.  Turned out to be a bad plan, but then Kurt went off to college at Swarthmore college, outside of Philadelphia (meaning not close to home).  His seizures were poorly controlled and his roommates ended up giving him a lot more care than they should have had to.  He went to a different neurologist, who overdosed him on anti-seizure medications, not discovered until he went to Chicago for the summer and saw a third doctor, who did a better job, but really couldn't continue as his neurologist.  His mother, who had always deferred to his father, found and insisted he be treated by a neurologist here in Dallas (who actually saw patients) and his treatment got back on track after that.   But his seizures have never been fully controlled.

 

In the meantime, the college doctor and college psychologist determined that he was a threat to the school and arranged for him to be kicked out.  That was against the law, but they did it anyway.  I have to say that it was so painful to read that part of the book that I had to put it down.  Through the intervention of his neurologist and lawyers who advocated for the disabled, he returned to school and graduated with his class.  

 

He spoke about the book on Saturday night and said that the result of these experiences has made him simmer along in barely-controlled rage his whole life, which was perfect for the kind of journalism he wanted to pursue, but probably wasn't all that healthy.  He also said that he has learned how to forgive.   He found out that one of the few professors who had been good to him at college had been made President of Swarthmore and that man arranged for a completely perfect reconciliation.

 

I highly recommend this book, even if you don't know someone with epilepsy.  

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