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The Most Revolutionary ACT: Memoir of an American Refugee Paperback – March 29, 2010
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The most revolutionary act was when she told the truth of her life and disclosed to other people that she was being surveilled and tortured by a shadowy group. Her experience pinpoints what happens during this perfect storm which is the loss of 4th amendment and human rights of regular citizens and the limited acceptance of this by mainstream America. Despite her total lack of privacy and rights and an army of sociopathic, homicidal and evil people trying to destroy her and her life, this book paints a picture of a woman with the dignity and perseverance to remain strong and continue building real positive change in the lives of others. You will be changed by this story of the human spirit.
This is a gem that you cannot afford to miss. One I read fast, and am looking forward to rereading soon. (They might as well start selling copies of Dr. Bramhall's book at coffee shops you'll be seeing this one pop up more and more)
Mental illness is a serious issue that affects all layers of society and afflicts people of all educational levels with the more erudite being possessed with greater resources for denial. Thus, reading this book is like perusing a case study from a psychology text, all the more remarkable, nay breathtaking, coming from someone who is a psychiatrist and medical doctor herself; it almost comes across like a put-on in that regard. Thus random events are interpreted in an egocentric and idiosyncratic fashion in the most sinister light. Someone almost hits the author in a car as she is walking as a pedestrian which she considers can only be an attempt on her life. Conversations on television are interpreted as messages to her conveyed via people who are tapping her phone, although she expresses some insight into this by conceding that such a belief could be reasonably viewed as a symptom of psychosis. Most bizarrely, the death of a motorist who is crushed by drawbridge a few minutes before she arrives in traffic is viewed as a failed attempt on her life linked to a gift of a plant to her by her boyfriend the previous day which she sees as having been a death squad like warning to her. (p.160-61). The book is filled with anecdotes of this type-like that her patients were increasingly government agents sent to spy on her-the credibility of which in the author's mind are bolstered by the all too real history of government harassment of political dissidents.
Needless to say, the author considers any suggestion that she suffered from a major mental illness as not only demeaning, but part of a conspiracy to silence and suppress her as a political activist, which is exactly how her own three week stay as a patient in a psychiatric hospital is portrayed-as a blatant act of political repression. This is a predictable, but disappointing summation on her part as she is too decent and bright of a person to be marginalized in the role of a crank. A better, more insightful book about an author's struggle overcoming mental illness is Mark Vonnegut's "The Eden Express".
The author surely may have needed a fresh start somewhere away from her previous troubles in Seattle and what nicer of a place to do that than New Zealand. However, that she, a relatively obscure rank and file activist, was driven out by government sponsored harassment on the scale she describes just does not seem credible and should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. In any event, we can only wish her well.
The FBI's aggressive infiltration and disruption of political groups in the US since the 1960s has been an appalling episode of US political history. All manner of political groups have been wrecked after being manipulated and betrayed by government informers, while their members lived with strain and damaged relationships from never being sure who they could trust or what was really going on.
Stuart Jeanne Bramhall's The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee is an autobiography revolving around her 15 years as a political campaigner facing these problems of trust and infiltration in dysfunctional social movements in the 1980s and 1990s Seattle. It is a well written, thoughtful and very honest book about twenty years of her life, including these intensely destructive politics, relationships, life as a practising psychiatrist and being a parent.
The book is a 'memoir of an American refugee' because in 2002, as the Iraq War inexorably approached, she applied for and was appointed to a psychiatry job in faraway New Zealand. The book ends as she leaves the US, with grateful relief for the better life awaiting her. The other half of the title is from Rosa Luxemburg's words: "The most revolutionary act is a clear view of the world as it really is." It is probably impossible to have a clear view of something as murky as the infiltrated progressive politics she lived through, but in the book we see an intelligent person telling the story of these real and hard experiences as clearly as is possible.
by Nicky Hager, author of The Hollow Men