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Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania Paperback – February 11, 2003
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"Electroboy is as surreal as life can get, proving that truth is stranger than fiction. Andy Behrman’s nightmare anecdotes are addicting."
-Eric Bogosian, author of Mall
"What a wild, mind-ripping, hellacious, and hysterical ride! Like some cranked-up, amoral Horatio Alger trapped in the dark fun house of his own brain, Andy Behrman is the stuff demented legends are made of. Electroboy is a brilliant, riveting instant classic of the American dream run amok."
-Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
"Pull down the safety bar, because Electroboy, like the manic depression it limns, is a roller-coaster ride of white-knuckled highs and lows. Courageous and dazzling--a heartbreaking journey into the mind untamed."
-Deborah Copaken Kogan, author of Shutterbabe
"Without ever sounding self-serving or apologetic, Behrman tells the story of a man utterly at
the mercy of his impulses. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes horrifying, always fascinating."
-John Taylor, author of Falling
"This stark and unsettling memoir mimics the patterns of the manic mind. An astonishing story of uncontrolled desire told by one of the most endearing madmen you’ll ever encounter."
-Katie Roiphe, author of Still She Haunts Me
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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The first part is total mania, like a apeeding train rushing into trouble. He resists no impulse of any sort. 'Anything worth doing is worth overdoing' seems to be his credo. Impulse cash purchase of a round-trip ticket to Tokyo? Yes, he's done it. Any possible tawdry activity in Times Square. Yes. Shopping himself into a guilty funk? ($8,000 in three hours on clothes.) That too.
He gets a high-paying job in the art world that fits perfectly with his mania. Now his incredible jetting around the world is a requirement of that job.
In the second part, wild cycles from elation to despair fill the pages. His solution involves the title -- electroshock. And lots of prescibed psychoactive drugs.
He must be one of the most medicated people on the planet, certainly for a mentally troubled person outside of a hospital. He takes 15 pills every night -- nine diffrent drugs. Some of the drugs require he take other drugs. His anti-psychotic drug needs more pills to control its side effects.
Then, too, he becomes an electroshock abuser. He takes lots of the treatments, at least partly because he loves the anesthesia given beforehand!
This is both a fast-reading rollercoaster of a book and yet profondly sad. It's not a book of great insight, but at least to me, it seems an accurate narration of a scarey mental world.