Duke tells the story of her manic-depressive illness and its successful treatment, while in alternating chapters medical-writer Hochman (Heart Bypass, 1982) explains the facts of the disease and the methods of treatment currently available. Duke's strange and unhappy childhood was chronicled in Call Me Anna, and is touched on here only to show how fundamentally unloved and rejected she felt. Her manic-depressive disorder began to manifest itself when she was a young woman living in Hollywood, at the peak of her career, starring in The Patty Duke Show. As the illness escalated, her life degenerated into frequent suicide attempts, drug dependency, wrecked relationships, tantrums on the set. She began hallucinating and engaging in bizarre behavior like holding parties in her motel room for hordes of strangers (one of whom she married after a few hours' acquaintance) and hiring two guys she met in a parking lot to manage her finances (with results that can be imagined). Finally, her illness was diagnosed and successfully treated with lithium, which she takes to this day and to which, she says, she owes her present stable, happy marriage and her very life. Hochman provides information on the various forms of depression and the various guises that bipolar (manic-depressive) illness can take, identifies people at risk for these diseases, discusses the link between manic-depressive disorder and creativity, and surveys medical treatments and family-support techniques that can help the sufferer. The tone seesaws between the lurid and the dry, depending on whether Duke or Hochman is writing. But despite its gracelessness, this memoir has merit: Duke shows bravery in telling her story in all its humiliating flagrance, and undoubtedly sufferers from this puzzling and devastating disease will find help in the explanations and resources Hochman diligently provides.
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