Thursday, June 13, 2019

In ‘Let Me Not Be Mad,’ a Doctor Is One of His Own Case Studies - The New York Times

There are always two experts in a consulting room, A.K. Benjamin writes in his magnificently unsettling new book, "Let Me Not Be Mad." There is the patient, and there is the doctor — "one skilled in the particular experience of symptoms, the other in investigating them, first- and third-person accounts vying for the same conceptual ground."

What happens when these accounts vie in one person — when doctor and patient are the same? Benjamin, a British clinical neuropsychologist, weaves together the stories of his patients' "unraveling minds" with his own history of mental illness. Portraits of patients suffering from traumatic brain injury or dementia open up to reveal larger aspects of clinical practice, the brain and the kind of porousness Benjamin believes his profession requires. His interest isn't merely in describing this empathy but evoking it, slightly coercively, from the reader (there's an annoying yet undeniably powerful twist in this tale that I'm trying to sidestep).

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