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The Case of the Frozen Addicts Hardcover – May 2, 1995

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 1982, six patients appeared in California clinics displaying mysterious symptoms: their bodies were so stiff that they appeared to be frozen. Langston, currently the president of the California Parkinson's Foundation, was one of the first physicians to examine the patients. He discovered that they had all injected a "designer" drug into their systems that created symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. Through excellent detective work and a good deal of pure luck, Langston located the chemical MPTP, which also produced Parkinsonian symptoms in primates. That discovery was of supreme medical importance, providing Langston and other researchers with the ability to test Parkinson's treatments on animal models. New approaches, including fetal tissue transplantation, could now be pursued. Langston's book intersperses discussions of recent research on Parkinson's while continuing to report on the progress of the "frozen addicts." A fast-paced medical detective format makes this a fascinating and immensely informative work. Highly recommended for most libraries.?Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The fascinating story of 12 years in Langston's career takes him from clinician to organizer of the Parkinson's Institute in California. In the process and with the aid of his growing staff and several Swedish physicians, he "thawed out" George, Juanita, and Connie, three of six addicts he'd been called to see in 1982. The six had suddenly shown signs of advanced Parkinson's disease that included inflexible or "frozen" bodies and inability to communicate. An alert and imaginative neurologist, Langston eventually suspected a chemical cause because of indications that all six were addicted to heroin or had used at least some just before the onset of symptoms. Ultimately, Langston unlocked his patients to the point at which a long and tortuous medical detective story could begin. The happy conclusion for the successfully thawed three came after the use of various experimental drugs and the transplanting of, first, adrenal, and finally, fetal, tissues. Readers of many stripes should find this well-told tale exciting. William Beatty
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st ed edition (May 2, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679424652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679424659
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I bought this book I didn't know what to expect - I thought it would be similar in style to Oliver Sacks' "Awakenings" (i.e. a series of case histories). While I enjoyed Awakenings I would have to say that this book is much better - it truly reads like an un-put-downable thriller. The plot has all the ingredients for a great story - whatever we might think of heroin addiction and the criminal backgrounds of many of the frozen addicts, we can only feel sympathy for their terrible fate; Langston is a perspicacious but poorly funded neurologist who must fight the prejudices of the medical establishment (and ultimately the government and President) in order to develop an exciting but controversial new treatment that will give the addicts the only hope of release from their living hell. It's great stuff, made all the better of course because its based on truth. The book is also hugely informative and gives a sobering insight into the suffering endured by victims of Parkinsons and other neurodegenerative diseases; as well as offering hope in the form of future treatments. It is also superbly written. What more can I say?
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Format: Paperback
A relation between a disease know for its unknown causes and a new "designer" drug made to bypass the actual laws, drug that actually caused the addicts to get the Parkinson's disease, then the overwhelmed reaction to the medical research community that could make a disaster by spreading the disease amongst researchers unaware of precautions to take manipulating the chemicals that caused the six drug addicts to be sick. This book is great from the begining to the end, as entertaining as the best fiction book even though it is a very factual book. I do not have a strong medical background, but I clearly understood this book and enjoyed reading it.
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Format: Paperback
A must for all Parkinson's Disease interested persons. A spellbinding tale depicting the beginning of modern science research into the causes of PD brought about by a very unlikely source. Hard to set aside once started.

E. Jack Savely
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Format: Paperback
We are passing the book around the family now. The farther has PD. It has been great for us to gain an understanding of this mysterious illness.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first discovered the story concerning these 6 frozen junkies when reading the book by Jimmy Moore and Eric C. Westman, MD.: “Cholesterol Clarity”, and then immediately ordered a copy. And I must admit that it has been a highly interesting and easy read book, even though it’s concerning neuro science, as it to me many times was like reading a good detective novel, so exciting that it was hard to put it down. A detective work by searching and actually many times by accidents were getting the best connections for the continuing following a trail.

It’s interesting in the book to read how many of the doctors whom the frozen patients first met, also the Danish chemical person we meet on the side 76, diagnosed them as cases of mental illness, actually the catatonic schizophrenia, neurogenic motor immobility and behavioral abnormality, and then just were expecting that it would turn over with time. And opposite to this how Langston concluded it to be Parkinson’s cases, after George Carillo was brought to the hospital, and there, among other, when laying on the bed, and having the arms were lifted up, it took 3 to 4 minutes before they had returned down to Georges side. And how Langston then was told the story from George Carillo, when after 12 days George got free from his body, by getting the L-dopa drug. The story about how he during all of the time had been totally clear in his brain and recognizing anything that was going on around him, but couldn’t talk, scream, move a finger, or not even an eyebrow, when feeling awful while doctors were doing painful or awful smelling stuffs against him for “waking” him up.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was first attracted to this book after reading this Time article: [...]
I always enjoyed Oliver Sacks' books, and was excited to encounter another book written about a medical mystery.

This book details the discovery of MPTP from the original 6 "Frozen Addicts" to the discovery's implications for Parkinson's in general. I never had a deep interest in Parkinson's syndrome (I've always been more interested in other aspects of the medical field), but through reading this book I learned an incredible amount and enjoyed the read while doing so. One downside, this book was written about two decades ago, so don't expect to get a full understanding of the modern view of Parkinson's, but on the other hand that doesn't matter because that's not what this book is about. This book is about Dr. Langston's discovery of the 6 "Frozen" patients, and how Dr. Langston took this discovery to develop a well respected career as a research physician.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about this book was the attention book paid to Dr. Langston's development from a purely clinical neurologist at the beginning of his career to a well known physician-scientist by the end. There is also ample detail about the bureaucracy and red tape involved in medical research; there is a theme throughout the book about competition between Dr. Langston's team and competing research teams at NIH etc.

As a last note, I particularly enjoyed how the authors humanized the 6 Frozen Addicts. Frequently in medicine patients are viewed as their diagnosis, not as actual people. In this book, the patients are described in a very humanizing fashion, and by the end I began to develop a small attachment to them (especially Connie, who Dr.
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