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Passing for Normal: A Memoir of Compulsionby Amy S. Wilensky
Synopses & Reviews
What I remember even more distinctly than the incidents of cruelty and confusion, intolerance and avoidance--more vividly than standing in front of the mirror watching my head move with no consciousinstruction from me--is the strain of trying to conceal my tics and rituals from others, especially those closest to me, my own family most of all.
The provocative memoir of a young woman'sstruggle to come to terms with a life plagued by irrational behavior.
I am crazy. But maybe I am not. For most of her life, this thought haunted Amy Wilensky as shewatched her body do things she couldn't control, repeatedly twitching and contorting into awkward positions. Her mind lurched and veered in ways she didn't understand: She felt that she must touch wood at all times to wardoff harm, that chewing a wad of stale gum would prevent a plane crash. Why couldn't she throw away meaningless scraps of paper? Why were six-word sentences strangely satisfying?
While Amy excelled inschool and led an otherwise normal life, she worried that beneath the surface she was a freak, that there was something irrevocably wrong with her. It wasn't until she happened upon the bookThe Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing after graduating from college that she realized she might be among the approximately 5 million Americans afflicted with Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsivedisorder.
Passing for Normal is Amy's emotionally charged account of her lifelong struggle with these often misunderstood disorders. A powerful witness to her own dysfunction, shedescribes the strain it bore on her relationships with the people she thought she knew best: her family, her friends, and her self. Confronting the labels we apply to ourselves and others--compulsive, crazy, out ofcontrol--Amy describes her symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment with courage and a healthy dose of humor, gradually coming to terms with the absurdities of a life beset by irrational behavior. This compelling narrative, byturns tragic and comic, broadly extends our understanding of the wondrously complex human mind, and, with subtlety and grace, challenges our notion of what it is to benormal.
From the Hardcover edition.
"A lean, lucid, supple account of growing up with Tourette's syndrome and OCD. In an age when these qualities are rare in memoir, Amy Wilensky's story is self-knowing without being self-involved, candid without being confessional. This book challenges all of us to reconsider our assumptions about normalcy and disability, as it poses that most simple and provocative question: What makes us who we are?"
--Leah Hagar Cohen, author of Train Go Sorry and Glass, Paper, Beans
"Amy Wilensky's clear head, plain tongue, and expansive spirit make this deft charting of her struggle with Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder at once terrifying and bracing. Passing for Normal is Oliver Sacks through the looking glass."
--Lis Harris, author of Holy Days and Rules of Engagement
"Touching, honest, and unique. . . . Wilensky is a bright, articulate, and compassionate writer who captures the essence of living with this puzzling and often misunderstood disorder."
--Judit Ungar, M.S.W., Executive Director, Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc.
"In giving such clear articulation to her own compulsive habits, Amy Wilensky has exposed a fluid vein of consciousness, wider in some of us than others, that runs just beneath the surface of our daily functioning--the wellspring of the hummer, the doodler, the counter and pacer, the toe-tapper in us all."
--Le Anne Schreiber, author of Midstream and Light Years
"A powerful first-hand account of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome."
--Dr. Eric Hollander, Director, Compulsive, Impulsive and Anxiety Disorders Program, Mount Sinai Medical Center
From the Hardcover edition.
I am crazy. But maybe I am not.For most of her life, these thoughts plagued Amy Wilensky as her mind lurched and veered in ways she didn't understand and her body did things she couldn't control. While she excelled in school and led an otherwise "normal" life, she worried that beneath the surface she was a freak, that there was something irrevocably wrong with her.Passing for Normal is Wilensky's emotionally charged account of her lifelong struggle with the often misunderstood disorders Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder.A powerful witness to her own dysfunction, Wilensky describes the strain it bore on her relationships with the people she thought she knew best: her family, her friends, and herself.Confronting the labels we apply to ourselves and others--compulsive, crazy, out of control--Amy describes her symptoms, diagnosis, and her treatment with courage and a healthy dose of humor, gradually coming to terms with the absurdities of a life beset by irrational behavior.This compelling narrative, by turns
tragic and comic, broadly extends our understanding of the won-drously complex human mind, and, with subtlety and grace, challenges our notion of what it is to be "normal."
About the Author
Amy S. Wilensky is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University's M.F.A. writing program. A native of suburban Boston, she lives in New York City.
From the Hardcover edition.
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