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The rambling autobiography of a manic-depressive, a foray inward and backward that alternately fascinates and bores. At age 13, Wigoder (a pseudonym) plunged into a foggy period during which he rarely left his bedroom. ""Strange, disturbing sensations confused me when I was awake: my bedroom looked unfamiliar; people's voices echoed when they spoke; the sound of my own voice seemed to come from several inches behind by head""--until one morning several weeks later he woke up fine. From then on, periods of depression alternated with periods of astonishing productivity and success--at school and then as an accountant. During his up-periods, Wigoder breathed raw, exuberant self-confidence; he worked fiendishly hard and goaded his firm into daring, expansive tactics. But, he recalls, living with ""my little weakness was like being emotionally handcuffed to an invisible partner."" Around his 30th birthday, he embezzled clients' money. He planned to confess his crime but attempted suicide instead. Later, he hit his sleeping wife with a giant gardening hammer. His wife survived; he went to prison, was released, again tried suicide. Then he joined a group therapy program in which he raked back over his unhappy family past, had some epiphanies (""feelings did not come one at a time""), left his wife and married a fellow therapy subject. While certain moments of clarity--for instance, a group mural-making project in an art-therapy session when Wigoder attempts to obliterate all marks that aren't his own--are stunningly portrayed, much of Wigoder's self-explication is abstract, self-probing, and lacking in anecdotal immediacy. He jumps back and forth between therapy and memories; the absence of a clear-cut chronology makes it hard to chart the ebb and flow of his illness. In all, then, an elucidating but uncompelling account.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1987
Publisher: Routledge & Kegan Paul