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Most people know Joe Pantoliano from his memorable roles in The Sopranos, The Matrix, The Goonies, Risky Business, Memento, and The Fugitive. But before he became one of Hollywood’s most successful character actors, he was “Joey Pants” from Hoboken, the son of a fiercely controlling schizophrenic mother. Growing up, Joe always knew something was different with him, too. “It was as if I was born with a huge hole inside of me,” he writes. Not until much later in life was Joe diagnosed with clinical depression. Now ...
Most people know Joe Pantoliano from his memorable roles in The Sopranos, The Matrix, The Goonies, Risky Business, Memento, and The Fugitive. But before he became one of Hollywood’s most successful character actors, he was “Joey Pants” from Hoboken, the son of a fiercely controlling schizophrenic mother. Growing up, Joe always knew something was different with him, too. “It was as if I was born with a huge hole inside of me,” he writes. Not until much later in life was Joe diagnosed with clinical depression. Now he has a message for the millions of people who suffer from mental illness, and for the friends and family who care for them: You are not alone.
Before Joe was diagnosed he tried to fill the hole inside of him with alcohol. Then he stopped drinking because the alcohol had stopped working, and instead took up to twenty Vicodin a day in an effort to numb his emotional and physical pain. Even after being diagnosed Joe faced roadblocks, such as when he couldn’t get insured on a film because of his antidepressant medication.
Asylum is the story of Joe’s Hollywood success, his undiagnosed mental illness and substance abuse, and how that all led to his eventual awareness, diagnosis, recovery, public activism, and advocacy. Interweaving deeply personal experience with informative discourse, Pantoliano creates a highly relevant and unflinchingly honest memoir that will resonate not only with victims of mental illness, and witnesses to its devastating effects, but the general reader curious about the working of the human mind.
Tommy Lee Jones
“Joey has written a brave, fascinating book. It is astonishing what people will put themselves through for the privilege of acting. Maybe we just can’t help it.”
Andrew Davis, director of The Fugitive
“Bravo! Joe Pantoliano’s very honest, moving, hilarious, and tragic telling of a life’s journey is both profound and enlightening. Asylum will make anyone who reads it a more generous and understanding human being.”
Robert Irvin, M.D., Instructor of Psychiatry,Harvard Medical School
“Pantoliano’s book reveals his ever-evolving understanding of himself and his disease through a retrospective analysis of his life’s most painful and jubilant experiences. The book provides a model of inspiration and courage for those who suffer from mental illness in silence to come forward and seek the life-changing help that is currently available.”
Jacqueline Lerner, Ph.D., Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology, Boston College
“Joey Pantoliano shows insight, humor, and brilliant storytelling as he unpacks his life to understand his challenges. Joey has opened himself up so that others can benefit from what he has discovered about mental illness. No one should miss this candid and richly told memoir.”
Richard M. Lerner, Ph.D., Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science; Director, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University
“With honesty, humor, and integrity, Joey Pantoliano uses his life story to inspire hope that each of us can thrive despite emotional challenges and family turmoil. Joey’s story exemplifies the fundamental human capacities for resilience and positive growth.”
Introduction: No Kidding, Me Too! xiii
Chapter 1 Abandon All Hope for a Better Past 1
Chapter 2 Lying for a Living 14
Chapter 3 An Egomaniac with an Inferiority Complex 48
Chapter 4 Let the Shame—Begin! 76
Chapter 5 The Hunchback of Hoboken 108
Chapter 6 If it Ain't One Thing, It's Your Mother! 123
Chapter 7 The Monkey Was Off My Bach, But the Circus Was Still in Town 151
Chapter 8 These Are the Good Old Days! 166
Chapter 9 Stuck on Stupid 183
Chapter 10 The Great Depression 210
Chapter 11 Twelve Steps out of the Mile Square 226
Epilogue: An Open Letter to the Late, Great Frank Capra 242
Book Acknowledgments 247
Posted April 25, 2012
An honest book about the struggle to overcome depression and addiction.
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