Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs (Anglais) Broché – 5 mars 2013
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Description du produit
Para-naval, actually. Tabor was a para-naval academy, but that didn’t mean much to me at the time. The naval terminology seemed a bad joke, an effort to reenact the Hollywood heroism of World War II. We would sometimes see men who looked like admirals strolling the pathways with the headmaster. Gold stripes on dark blue cuffs. There were special prayers at vespers, navy uniforms to be ironed and worn a few weeks a year, drill sessions with guns and a marching band. And yes, we were located on a body of water and there were a lot of boats: sailboats, rowboats, crew boats, a schooner out in the harbour. It was the boats that had attracted me in the first place, the previous spring in Toronto.
“Marc, we’d like to talk to you about your options for next year,” my mother had said in her frank, slightly invasive tone.
“What options?” I was beckoned to the kitchen table, where I sat down with both parents. The table was covered with pamphlets from different private schools, most of them in New England. “You seem a little bored with school,” Mom continued. “And maybe a bit discontent overall?” Those penetrating eyes—hazel and clear with mildly arched brows—scanned me for an accuracy reading. They gazed at me steadily from her pretty, mid-thirtyish face—a face surrounded by sprayed-in-place hair that became increasingly blonde as the sixties wore on. My mother seemed to wield her own sixth sense. She could look into me and find things. As usual, I soon felt I must be hiding whatever it was she was looking for.
“I’m fine, Mom. Everything’s okay.” My dad sat beside her, hunched over and uncomfortable. His pleasant features, thin black hair, and solemn brown eyes would have been more at home at a meeting of the family-run leather business. Dad didn’t usually get involved in family discussions with an emotional theme, if that’s what this was. Maybe he was in the dark as much as I was. His half-smile tried to make light of things. But this was sounding ominous.
“I know everything’s fine,” she said. “But remember we talked about boarding schools? And you said you might be interested?
Remember, we’ll be moving to San Francisco in two years’ time. Going to an American school would save you a year of high school. You’d be able to go straight to college the year we arrive. So . . .” she smiled encouragingly, “I’ve done my homework and gotten these pamphlets from some very fine schools. And we thought,” with a glance at my dad, “that you might want to look at them.”
It all seemed exciting, though too far off to think about. So I looked at the pamphlets piled up in front of me. We looked together, and my parents pointed out this and that feature of this and that school. I tried to pay attention, but my thoughts wandered like stray cats. I was preoccupied—some sort of creeping disorientation at the very prospect of leaving home. And beneath that, intangible but potent, a sense of dread. Were they trying to get rid of me? Had I done something wrong?
Now Tabor was my world: there was nothing left to decide. Every morning I joined four hundred other teenage boys tramping along a wooden walkway between brick buildings in a cold mist, breakfast settling, the assembly hall looming, thinking about ways to avoid attention. Our headmaster, Mr. Witherstein, looked as though he’d stepped out of an old movie. He parted his hair almost dead centre, and he was grey and crusty like a venerable admiral himself. He waited for us at the lectern, beaming with unnatural enthusiasm. He delighted in the series of routine announcements that he would soon recite with such gravity. I took my assigned seat. Each seat back held a short wire rack containing a hymnal. I reached toward mine automatically, on cue. We opened our hymnals together, the rustle of pages filling the hall, and we began to sing.
A mighty fortress is our God! A bulwark never failing. God had never appeared to me as a fort or a bulwark. Maybe that was because I was Jewish. Yet I didn’t mind the singing. It numbed me. There was a comforting anonymity in being a part of this mass, this sea of boys packed row after row in a heated auditorium. I was safe for now. Back at my dorm, it was survival of the fittest, and I wasn’t all that fit. A pecking order had consolidated in the early months, and I was pretty close to the bottom. At first my roommate, Todd, was the victim of some pretty vicious teasing by just about everyone, but especially Bill Reed, the handsome giant who lived in the room next door. Reed was a front-line football player, though still a junior, and for that alone he was universally admired. Todd put some sort of lotion on his face at night, giving it an awful vampiric whiteness, all the more disturbing with his black stubble poking through. He was soon known to one and all as Madame Butterfly. I was sympathetic at first, but I didn’t like him much. He was caustic, whiny, and sour. I tried to like him. I tried to be nice to him. But I secretly hoped that his victimization would keep me safe, give me some breathing space.
Meanwhile, Reed had risen rapidly to power. His own roommate, Randy, was an absurd-looking, gangly outcast, with protruding ears, perfectly designed by nature for the role of village idiot. And he was Reed’s roommate! I felt sorry for Randy. What torments must he suffer? But I was relieved that Reed was surrounded by victim material. Although I knew that was selfish, I needed it to be so. I needed the playing field tilted in my favour.
And then, to my horror, it tilted the other way. The dominance hierarchy heaved a final time and Randy and Todd ended up Reed’s lieutenants, his slaves. Randy brought him anything he asked for. He literally stood around, waiting for orders. Todd found his niche fawning over Reed from the sidelines, grinning at his savage jokes and heaping ridicule on his victims.
I was next in line.
“Hey Lewis!” Reed smiled at me almost warmly from the doorway connecting our rooms. His broad, manly features beamed with good humour.
“Come on in. Join the party.”
“Okay.” I couldn’t refuse.
“Did you see what happened to my dresser?”
“No . . .”
“Take a look.”
“I don’t see anything.”
“Come closer.” He seemed so inviting. I wanted to believe that I was really being included. But I didn’t see anything unusual.
“I don’t see . . .”
“Bring your head right up to the edge here, ya dummy. You have to look at it from just the right angle.” I did as I was told, moving my face to within inches of the dresser surface. There seemed to be a pool of water there.
“I see some water. How did that happen?”
Then smash! His palm came down hard on the little puddle; my face was soaked. And whatever was running down my cheeks stung my eyes, which started instantly to tear. Aftershave? Hydrochloric acid? Liquid shame? My tears were the worst part.
“How did that happen?” Reed echoed in mincing tones. “How did that happen?” His voice rose with incredulity while he danced around the room. “Did it make you cry, Lewis? Poor baby, we’d better call your Mama,” and they all erupted into laughter, Reed, Randy, Todd, and another guy. I looked through tears at Reed’s grinning hyena mask, curling now with contempt, and I wanted to slip through the floor. What was wrong with me?!
I began to avoid my dorm whenever I could, to synchronize my comings and goings with those of the other boys, so Reed couldn’t get me alone. I made a couple of friends and that helped. There were other misfits who had no interest—and generally no place—in the jock-dominated hierarchy. By Christmas I spent a lot of time with Schwartz and Burton. Joe Schwartz was a junior like me, but he was leather-tough in some unique way. Self-sufficient and really smart. Burton was just a big teddy bear, gruff and mischievous, whom nobody could dislike. I got to know their friends, Gelsthorpe, Perry, and Norris, all seniors. These were the guys who would graduate at the end of the year, and they all lived in another dorm, Pond House. I spent a lot of time at Pond House, and I wished I ... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
Revue de presse
“A surprising and charming addition to this crowded genre. Yes, it embraces the classic redemption narrative - teenage experimentation, late-’60s Berkeley, exotic forays into Malaysia and Calcutta, the inevitable slide into deception, crime, and desperation. But he ends up a professional neuropsychologist, able to enliven the tired streams of addled consciousness with metrical rapids of semi-hard science.”
“Marc Lewis's brilliant – if not wholly sympathetic – account of his many mind-bludgeoning drug experiences wears its biological determinism on its sleeve … Lewis has certainly woven his experiences into an unusual and exciting book… (Memoirs of an Addicted Brain) is as strange, immediate and artfully written as any Oliver Sacks case-study, with the added scintillation of having been composed by its subject.”
“The most original and illuminating addiction memoir since Thomas De Quincey's seminal Confessions of an Opium Eater…[an] electrifying debut.”
Midwest Book Review
“A powerful survey recounting the author’s powerful addiction and how he broke an intense hold on drugs… This will appeal to a range of collections, from those strong in autobiographies to science and health holdings alike.”
“Developmental neuroscientist Lewis examines his odyssey from minor stoner to helpless, full-blown addict….as [he] unspools one pungent drug episode after another, he capably knits into the narrative an accessible explanation of the neural activity that guided his behavior. From opium pipe to orbitofrontal cortex, a smoothly entertaining interplay between lived experience and the particulars of brain activity.”
“Meticulous, evocative… Lewis’s unusual blend of scientific expertise, street cred, vivid subjectivity and searching introspection yields a compelling perspective on the perils and allure of addiction.”
Wall Street Journal
"Compelling…for readers grappling with addiction, Mr. Lewis's…approach might well be novel enough to inspire them to seek the happiness he now enjoys.”
Chronicle of Higher Education
“He proceeds deftly from episodes of his drug years to neuroscientific explanations of his brain's response to drugs.”
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
The feel and structure of this book is an unusual and remarkable combination of explanations from both a raconteur and college lecturer. It is extraordinary and unique because Lewis is both neuroscientist and drug addict in the book. He is able to provide valuable insight that could usually be lost in translation between experimenter and lab rat. Lewis guides us through the neurology behind addiction as he reveals his first encounter with underage drinking, his temporary escape from depression via dextromethophan, sexual desires, and his experimentation with psychedelics, PCP, and eventually heroin and more. Though not an addict yet, in the first chapter, Lewis jumped straight to expressing the insecurity and curiosity that led first to drinking alcohol. He noticed a change in mood and his self-criticism finally being silenced. He switches from raconteur to college lecturer mode when he begins describing how alcohol is affecting his system by enhancing GABA transmission, which means "the inhibitory chemicals get boosted," and muffling glutamate transmission, meaning "the excitatory chemicals get hushed." His explanations are thoroughly detailed, and he provides just enough background information about brain structures and functions for the less informed readers. He emphasizes physiological effects as well as the emotion state and external situations surrounding addiction. For Lewis, he battled a constant "ache for acceptance" and a deep depression that he learned to dull with chemical substances, partially leading him to conclude that "addiction is really just a corrupted form of learning."
Even as Lewis falls down a path of crime and deceit, he manages to describe the chemical mechanisms. He recalls as an undergraduate working in a laboratory how he considered stealing morphine from an old lab fridge and then explains the part of his brain that deals with this ethical battle: "the dorsal anterior cingulated cortex is where context and judgment come together to create the will, that beam of self-direction that makes it possible to choose consciously and act morally." Here, we can see that he does not stop with just illustrating the effects of drugs while an addict is actively abusing them. Lewis goes into further detail and describes various structures and functions of the brain and ties them back to an addict's thought process, choices, and acts.
When I first took a look at this book, I had expected to learn about drug addiction in the strictest sense, but various aspects and types of addiction are covered in this novel. Lewis describes mental and emotional addiction early in his memoirs when he relays his first encounter with dextromethorphan, illustrating how "people take drugs because they're not feeling right [and] the whole point of taking drugs is to change the way you feel." He illustrates the wanting and craving of an addict through descriptions of sexual desire with the neurological culprit revealed to be neuromodulator, dopamine: "with every letter she wrote me, the dopamine pump got activated." Lewis also managed to connect and compare various types of addiction throughout this book. He did so sometimes by comparing emotional states, such as explaining how his "attitude toward LSD, a drug, was not much different from [his] zeal to connect with Lisa, a girl, thanks to a flood of dopamine in [his] ventral striatum - wanting and wanting and wanting..." Other comparisons and connections simply illustrated similar biological mechanisms, such as describing PCP as `an NMDA antagonist, like dextromethorphan and ketamine."
Readers of any background can easily understand the scientific descriptions, but the explanations are still detailed enough to not feel too simplistic. He discusses major neuroscience topics such as functions of varying sections of the brain and the roles of neuromodulators and other natural chemicals of the central nervous system while exploring neuropharmacology of substance abuse drugs. Cellular biologists, however, may not be satisfied with the level of detail in this book. Lewis focuses more on the emotional and cognitive aspects of addiction rather than the major underlying molecular mechanisms behind it. Though not extensive, Lewis does provide some information on current research and external resources in the endnotes for readers who wish to be more informed. For those interested in more complex detail, one would have to resort to textbooks or journal articles (as is the case for any scientific research). This book is not a series of case studies. It's a memoir, so high level of detail of biological pathways and mechanisms is not to be expected. The neuroscience discussed is examined with enough detail to satisfy introductory neuroscience students but explained clearly enough for anyone to understand. Ultimately, his descriptions smoothly connected neuroanatomy, basic neurophysiology, and perception.
One more note I will make is I would have liked to see more on the effects of drug addiction over time. Lewis went into sufficient detail on changes in perceptions and basic physiological pathways but provided less detail on long term effects.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It is effective and engaging, and I would definitely recommend anyone to read it. Lewis brought the understanding of addiction passed the level of recovering addicts revealing their history and cautionary tales and brought to life the biological mechanisms behind the addiction. This memoir illustrates an enthralling life story and delivers a successful merging of the mental, emotional, social, physical, and molecular aspects of addiction. The tales are heartbreaking, sometimes horrifying, and sometimes extreme, wild, and often foolish, but Lewis, a flawed but inspirational man, ultimately leaves the readers with a happy ending from a cautionary tale. His straightforward, simple, and engaging explanations of various neurological concepts will help anyone understand a little more about how our brains work. Though unfortunate, terrifying, and tragic at times, Lewis' rich history with substance abuse and addiction as well as his current knowledge and expertise of neuroscience truly made it a fascinating read.
Overall, if this biography has as much truth as it describes then Marc much be admired for openess. He has revealed parts of himself that should resonate with most humans. And there are surely nuggets of insight that can help anyone who struggles with the challenges of self and relationship.
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