counter create hit Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, And Survival: A Memoir - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, And Survival: A Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

Anyone who has ever loved an emotionally troubled person will draw inspiration from this remarkable story of brotherly love.Jay Neugeboren and his brother, Robert, grew up in Brooklyn in the years following World War II. Both brothers -- smart, popular, and well-adjusted -- seemed well on the way to successful lives when for reasons that remain mysterious to this day Rober Anyone who has ever loved an emotionally troubled person will draw inspiration from this remarkable story of brotherly love.Jay Neugeboren and his brother, Robert, grew up in Brooklyn in the years following World War II. Both brothers -- smart, popular, and well-adjusted -- seemed well on the way to successful lives when for reasons that remain mysterious to this day Robert had a mental breakdown at age nineteen. For the past thirty years Jay has been not only his brother's friend and confidante, but his sole caretaker as Robert continues to suffer from the ravages of chronic mental illness, which has also kept him institutionalized for most of his life. Imagining Robert is the most honest book to date on the lives of the millions of families that must cope, day by day and year by year, over the course of a lifetime, with a condition for which, in most cases, there is no cure. By rendering his brother in all his complexity and mystery, Jay Neugeboren has shown how even the grimmest of lives can be sustained by the power of love. "Hundreds of thousands of families have been waiting for Imagining Robert because its story is their story too". -- Joanne Greenberg, author of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden


Compare
Ads Banner

Anyone who has ever loved an emotionally troubled person will draw inspiration from this remarkable story of brotherly love.Jay Neugeboren and his brother, Robert, grew up in Brooklyn in the years following World War II. Both brothers -- smart, popular, and well-adjusted -- seemed well on the way to successful lives when for reasons that remain mysterious to this day Rober Anyone who has ever loved an emotionally troubled person will draw inspiration from this remarkable story of brotherly love.Jay Neugeboren and his brother, Robert, grew up in Brooklyn in the years following World War II. Both brothers -- smart, popular, and well-adjusted -- seemed well on the way to successful lives when for reasons that remain mysterious to this day Robert had a mental breakdown at age nineteen. For the past thirty years Jay has been not only his brother's friend and confidante, but his sole caretaker as Robert continues to suffer from the ravages of chronic mental illness, which has also kept him institutionalized for most of his life. Imagining Robert is the most honest book to date on the lives of the millions of families that must cope, day by day and year by year, over the course of a lifetime, with a condition for which, in most cases, there is no cure. By rendering his brother in all his complexity and mystery, Jay Neugeboren has shown how even the grimmest of lives can be sustained by the power of love. "Hundreds of thousands of families have been waiting for Imagining Robert because its story is their story too". -- Joanne Greenberg, author of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

30 review for Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, And Survival: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    so here's the spoiler; there isn't a magic drug/bullet to rescue people from mental illness and anytime somebody says there is, it rips the hearts from mentally ill people and their familes. jay neugeboren's brother has been figuretivly screwed by damn near every doctor and instituion he's been in. the highest ups don't communicate w/families or patients or, most scary, each other. too mant times the reader, and jay, are left w/a wtf feeling don't these people read one another's notes? no they do so here's the spoiler; there isn't a magic drug/bullet to rescue people from mental illness and anytime somebody says there is, it rips the hearts from mentally ill people and their familes. jay neugeboren's brother has been figuretivly screwed by damn near every doctor and instituion he's been in. the highest ups don't communicate w/families or patients or, most scary, each other. too mant times the reader, and jay, are left w/a wtf feeling don't these people read one another's notes? no they don't. this is a helpless book, nobody wins. for a family going through this a long time "imagining robert" could be a God send - yes other people go through this garbage! again and again... three other points about this book, jay and robert's mom ends up in a nursing home w/alzheimers. robert in his institution wants to see her but she doesn't know who he is. and nursing homes are run as compently as sanity houses. jay fights through rejection slip after rejection slip on his way to becoming a sucessful writer. for teens/twenties choosing writing as a vocation this is a great book to read. and last jay's kids are here caring about robert, he's their uncle. they love him. that settles it. as for robert's other friends and famiily - they're to busy this weekend.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cooper Cooper

    Novelist Jay Neugeboren chronicles a lifetime relationship with his brother Robert, who turned schizophrenic at nineteen and has been in and out of mental institutions—and on every imaginable psychoactive drug—ever since, and who oscillates between normal humorous and loving behavior and out-of control raging and abusiveness. Umpteen times over the years Robert has gone from locked ward to halfway house back to locked ward back to halfway house…the revolving door keeps revolving. Jay, meanwhile, Novelist Jay Neugeboren chronicles a lifetime relationship with his brother Robert, who turned schizophrenic at nineteen and has been in and out of mental institutions—and on every imaginable psychoactive drug—ever since, and who oscillates between normal humorous and loving behavior and out-of control raging and abusiveness. Umpteen times over the years Robert has gone from locked ward to halfway house back to locked ward back to halfway house…the revolving door keeps revolving. Jay, meanwhile, is contending with their half-demented mother (who, though a nurse, has long since given up on Robert) in Florida, and two college-age sons with drug problems. Obviously, this is a dysfunctional family of the first order. Family dynamics: the family revolved around the mother, a “Supermom” nurse who often worked double shifts to support the family because her businessman husband experienced failure after failure and contributed little to family finances—in fact, was usually deep in debt. The father was also extremely passive, often sitting around for hours on end doing absolutely nothing while the mother worked her butt off. Outside the family the mother was Mrs. Wonderful, always keeping up appearances of goodness and prosperity, but inside the family she was a bitch, a martyr and a tyrant, with an insatiable demand for worshipful attention. She openly favored her younger son Robert, whom she called her “love-child,” and attacked and ridiculed her older son Jay, whom she called “cold” and a “killer.” She herself had been despised by her mother, who told her (a fourth daughter), “I needed you like a hole in the head.” Jay, five years older than Robert, seemed to feel an inordinate responsibility for his brother, as though he had to protect him from the mother and father; he later seemed to feel that the schizophrenia was somehow his fault. Typical second-generation Brooklyn family? So how much of Robert’s problem is genetic and how much family-induced? Who knows? It’s too complicated to disentangle. I did notice a partial correlation between major life events (father’s non-fatal heart attack, Jay moving from New York, etc.) and Robert’s breakdowns—but only partial. Some of the breakdowns seemed to come out of nowhere. On the nature-nurture issue, the author quotes psychiatrist Dr. Michael Robbins: “The evidence, particularly from studies of monozygotic twins, suggests that there is a constitutional vulnerability to schizophrenia, a differently organized brain, and that, unless this is compensated for by exceptional parenting very early in life, it will lead, in a series of recursive transformations, to the qualitatively differently organized psyche we call schizophrenia.” And what is the author’s conclusion after years of dealing with his on-again, off-again psychotic brother? That the best approach is to accept him for what he is, including his illness, and deal with him as another unique human being rather than as a “mental patient” who has to be cured. Robert I find myself, again, recalling my visits to Robert during his first hospitalization, in February 1962, two months before his nineteenth birthday, and I find myself seeing Robert again as, in midsentence, he would sometimes freeze into catatonic positions—arms and legs bent at acute angles, mouth wide open, eyes closed tight, as if, I thought then, he resembled, in bone structure, a deadly and beautiful prehistoric bird. I would stand by while aides lifted him and carried him off—he was so rigid, it seemed as if he had been starched and folded—and tied him into a straitjacket, or strapped him down to a bed. “Listen, Jay,” he whispers. “Do you ever run screaming out of the house? Do you ever just start going up and down the stairs and you can’t stop, and from room to room, and first turning on every light and then going back and turning them off, and then just turning them on and off, and faster and faster and you can’t stop? “It’s like the world turns into black and white for me sometimes. I get jittery and on edge—angry and anxious—and then I begin to panic about everything. I get suspicious and I don’t sleep, and when I don’t sleep I stop eating or I eat too much. I just keep eating and eating, or not at all. I can’t work well or do anything. I remember things from years back, and they seem to be happening now—and I can’t figure out what’s now and what’s then. “When I’m in the house by myself I get very scared—every noise scares me, even the smallest sound from the refrigerator—low! low!—gives me goose bumps. I think the people on the TV are watching me and that I’m watching them. If I look outside and cars are parked I think people are waiting in the cars and I wonder who they are.” My mother provided minute-by-minute accounts of therapy sessions (“robt brought out that I used to get migraines and sometimes he felt the cause of it—but more than that he used to wish that he could take the pain and suffering for me and there were actual tears flowing from him when he was remembering how he couldn’t take the pain away from me to himself”)…. …through the next fifteen years, Robert would have many breakdowns, releases, and readmissions—would wander through so many hospitals, wards, welfare hotels, and halfway houses—and would have so many different drugs, and in enormous doses and combinations, poured into him—that their order is a blur, and neither of us can ever determine with certainty the precise sequence of events, or recall which events, episodes, doctors, and medications coincided with which hospitalization. Kate [Greenbaum, Robert’s psychologist:] said she was going to write a book about Creedmoor [state mental institution:] someday and call it The Helpless Dictator, because that's what the patients seemed like to her: helpless dictators. When parents complained about how their lives were controlled and ruined by their mentally ill child, Kate would ask them how it could be—since their child was helpless, locked up, and drugged up—that this sick, helpless child had such extraordinary power to dictate and control so many aspects of its family’s life. Robert nods. “That was me,” he says. What we know about conditions such as Robert’s is mostly, as ever, that we don’t know very much—except that these conditions bring great sadness and misery, and that they do not allow Robert, and those like him, to live with the rest of us in our world. The sad truth is that who he is—his identity as Robert Neugeboren and nobody else, a human being forever in process, forever growing, changing, and evolving—is made up, to this point in time, largely of what most of us have come to call his illness. And if he gives that up, as it were—if he denies that this so-called illness is central to his life and being (and if he merely fixes its symptoms instead of also understanding their causes), and does not hold on to his illness and its history as a legitimate, real, and unique part of his on-going self—what of him, at fifty-two years old, will be left? Jay (The Author) I find myself wondering again—as I did, sometimes suicidally, thirty-two years ago—whether my own seeming survival has been bought at the expense of my brother’s life. (“This is my love child,” our mother would always say about Robert, while lavishing affection and kisses on him. “That one,” she would say, pointing to me. “That one’s a cold fish. That one’s selfish and mean. All he ever thinks about is himself. Who could ever love that one? Mark my words—that one’s a killer.”) On my last night in Florida, driving from the nursing home [where he had just placed his mother:] to her apartment, I find myself wondering, too: Do I somehow love being responsible for her more than I love her or ever loved her? Am I now, in caring for her—as for Robert and for my children—merely trying to prove (to her? to myself? to the universe?) yet again that I am not the mean and selfish boy she always told me I was? Do I care for others, still, in the hopes that if I do a good enough job, somebody will, still, come along and care for me in the way I’ve longed to be cared for my whole life long? I recall, one Saturday or Sunday afternoon in late spring, watching—and envying—Robert and his friends, from a distance, as they danced together across one of Hillside’s [high-class mental hospital:] immense lawns. How wonderful it must be to be free of all responsibility! I recall thinking. How wonderful it must be to be so defined by the world that others see to all your needs. How wonderful it must be to be taken out of the workaday world for a while and set down in a peaceful, idyllic setting where most decisions are made for you by others. And how wonderful it must be, above all, I felt, to be taken care of by others. I often felt as if there were a curse in our (Jewish) family that was not unlike the curses in Greek tragedies, and that this curse had been passed down from generation to generation, strewing casualties along the way: from my mother’s grandparents and parents (and her sisters and brother) to Robert (and our cousins). What I wanted, I screamed through my tears, my stomach grinding itself, was for the curse to stop with me. I want it to stop! I cried. I just want it to stop! The Mother Jay and Robert’s mother, retired in Florida, remembers her own mother: “My mother hated me—oh did she hate me!” she says. “’I hate you,’ she used to say to me. I was her fourth daughter, you see, and she would say to me, in Yiddish, ‘I needed you like a hole in the head.’ And she hit me and smacked me around a lot, and then two years after I came into the world my brother was born—that was Izzie—and I wasn’t even allowed to touch him, he was such a prince. But she hated me. She beat me up a lot.” What usually happened…was that after screaming and recriminations about who-did-what-right and who-did-what-wrong—about who was to blame for what, and why, and when, and where, and how, and how often—all discussions would quickly turn, not to Robert and to what we might do to help him, but to my mother, and of how we could best show our love for her. Throughout most of my childhood, and especially at home, my mother was forever frenetic—forever doing, rarely able to sit still for more than a few minutes—while my father was an angry and withdrawn man whose main purpose in life, most days, seemed to be to get me to be good to my mother—to obey her wishes, and to anticipate her desires: to be quiet when she slept, considerate and adoring when she was awake…. While I watched my mother paint Robert’s nails with polish, put lipstick on his mouth, and dress him up in little girl’s dresses, I seethed with envy and rage. To enter a [family:] therapy session was to enter a war zone where no possibility of understanding or healing existed, and where…Robert would never win, since he was, for starters, simply no match for my mother, and since—a theory I’d long held to—despite her words to the contrary, my mother loved nothing so much as the fighting itself; she was, and had always been, most truly alive when embattled against real or imagined enemies—when engaged in confrontations with my father, Robert, me, her parents, or her sisters. For most of his life, [my father:] had believed he was the major cause of my mother’s unhappiness. But now, he said, gesturing to the palm trees and the sunshine, she had everything she wished for, and she was no different. “You don’t know what she’s like, Jay,” he said then. “How she’ll be fine one minute, and then the next, it’s like a wind blows through her, and she’s a different person. She wakes up some days and just starts walking from room to room, all day long, going on and on about how this one hates her, and that one is against her, and how everyone’s ganging up on her, and then she starts phoning every person she knows.” My father was buried the next morning, and my mother spent the hours before the funeral wandering around her apartment, talking to the walls as if she were talking to Robert, and then, in Robert’s voice, answering herself. “Robert, my love-child, where are you, darling? Why weren’t you here today? Where are you? Where are you, sweetheart? …Here I am, Momma…here I am!…Can I bring you a wash cloth for your headache, Momma?…Can I get you a pillow? What can I do for you, Momma?…Tell me…tell me, my beautiful Momma….” After their father died, their mother admitted: “Let’s face it, Jay—I needed to be worshipped and told I was loved a thousand times a day.” The Father Whenever I was with our parents in the months preceding their move to Florida, they fought about the move. My mother kept insisting she had done enough for others, and that staying in New York would not help or cure Robert. She was entitled, after a life of hard work and suffering, she said, to some peace. My father did not disagree, but he pleaded with her that they not leave Robert, especially when he was so sick. I had seen my father cry only twice before in my life…but one Sunday afternoon before a trip to Mid-Hudson [mental institution:], when I walked into my parents’ living room, I found him on his knees in front of my mother, weeping away. “I’m begging you, Annie,” he kept saying through his tears. “I’m begging you, I’m begging you—one doesn’t abandon a son! One doesn’t abandon a son!” The “System” The sad truth is that gifted therapists do not often work for the state, and if and when they do, they soon wear down. How not? They work with meager and ever-changing budgets, without adequate professional and technical resources, with restrictive bureaucratic rules, and with patients whom others—families and institutions—have often given up on. And Robert is, to be sure, a lot more experienced at being a mental patient than people like Henry and Nick are at helping mental patients; Robert is clearly—no asset—a lot brighter and more imaginative, despite all, than most of those who have, for thirty-two years, been paid to care for him, and a lot more adept, alas, at manipulating others (to his own destruction) than others are at working to help him learn to care for himself. Not only were homosexuality and the use of marijuana, for example, deemed aberrant behavior and proof of insanity, but any straying from the straight-and-narrow road that led from a college degree to job, marriage, children, home, and a family life in which one was “a credit to one’s parents” seemed cause, not merely for disapproval and disappointment, but for psychiatric treatment and/or ostracism. What would make a difference [to Robert’s condition:], even now?…Three things, I suggest: competent professionals who would be a constant in his life, and who would have the skills to work with him—steadily and steadfastly, through all his ups and downs; a pleasant place to live, like the supervised Beacon apartment he lived in on Hylan Boulevard; and some regular work that drew upon his mind and capabilities.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lester

    Although this book is certainly a comfort for those who have relatives who have been shunted through various institutions in search of a cure, I found it tedious after a while. Neugeboren goes through the details of his brother's mental illness and how it play out in everyday scenes in much too much detail for me. However, more than the insight into the life of Neugeboren (who not only has to deal with his ill brother, but also two sons with issues and a mother with Alzheimers), I found the book Although this book is certainly a comfort for those who have relatives who have been shunted through various institutions in search of a cure, I found it tedious after a while. Neugeboren goes through the details of his brother's mental illness and how it play out in everyday scenes in much too much detail for me. However, more than the insight into the life of Neugeboren (who not only has to deal with his ill brother, but also two sons with issues and a mother with Alzheimers), I found the book shocking in its portrayal of New York States mental health system. Constant switching of doctors, carers and institutions, as well as lack of communication with guardians, seems to be one of the contributors to ensuring that the mentally ill do not get better. I was left with the impression that New York State employees find it easier to drug their wards into quiet submission than to think about how to bring them back into society. A worry.....

  4. 5 out of 5

    Holli

    I appreciated hearing the account of a schizophrenic from his brother's point of view. It was fascinating to hear how his illness affected the whole family from its onset without ceasing. The book has a lot of detail and really allows you to empathize for the characters and put yourself in their shoes. However, the writing is not chronological, and there is a TON of jumping around through time periods, from childhood to adult to teen and back and forth. I understand that the author is trying to m I appreciated hearing the account of a schizophrenic from his brother's point of view. It was fascinating to hear how his illness affected the whole family from its onset without ceasing. The book has a lot of detail and really allows you to empathize for the characters and put yourself in their shoes. However, the writing is not chronological, and there is a TON of jumping around through time periods, from childhood to adult to teen and back and forth. I understand that the author is trying to make a point about mental illness in general and about schizophrenia in specific, but this style makes it rather difficult to keep track of what's going on and when things happened.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Thoroughly enjoyed! Excellent read...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott Umphrey

    Very good book since I have a brother. But, very painful to read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Just could not finish it - to many commas.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Korus

    Very moving, loving book about the author's brother, whose intelligence, wit and warmth shine through despite his decades-long struggle with mental illness.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Pruchno

    A brother's view of how mental illness affects families. Almost too many details for my taste and not enough musing. This book tells more than it shows.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scott Cinsavich

    Heart rending and poignant.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Sacks

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joe Simpson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  15. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Naomi Senkbeil

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Harris

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie Simonson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marion

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Harnisch

  24. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Lynn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Brochstein

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adele

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lenore Riegel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.