Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain

Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain

4.3 32
by James Patterson, Hal Friedman

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Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to twitch his neck. From that day forward his life became a hell of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances, and Cory embarked on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist to discover the cause of his disease. Soon it became unclear what tics were symptoms of…  See more details below


Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to twitch his neck. From that day forward his life became a hell of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances, and Cory embarked on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist to discover the cause of his disease. Soon it became unclear what tics were symptoms of his disease and what were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life was a living hell.

AGAINST MEDICAL ADVICE is the true story of Cory and his family's decades-long battle for survival in the face of extraordinary difficulties and a maddening medical establishment. It is a heart-rending story of struggle and triumph with a climax as dramatic as any James Patterson thriller.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
From five to 18, Cory Friedman was prescribed over 30 different medications to control obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome. He battled addiction, learning difficulties and tics before embarking on a wilderness retreat and an intensive school process. Working from Cory's recollections, family medical records and observations, Patterson and Friedman (Cory's father) create a rich and engaging first-person narrative based on the co-authors' previous work, Against Medical Advice (2008). Readers will wonder about some of the Friedmans' parenting choices, especially as Cory's behavior gets more extreme; a showdown over smoking at school, for example, may generate very little sympathy. There is a plethora of additional content: family photographs, medicine logs, question-and-answer sessions with both Cory and his father and a brief guide to mental-health resources. A perfect prescription for misery-memoir maniacs. (Memoir. YA)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Waldrop
Do not think about the color yellow. Do not dare to think about it. You cannot help thinking about it. The disorder plants the idea of the color yellow in your brain, and it becomes impossible not to think of it. Now imagine that it is not the urge to think about a color but the irrepressible desire to hit something, to hurt something, even if it is yourself you are hitting and hurting. Tourette's Syndrome has caused Cory Friedman to experience this lack of control for thirteen years, starting from the time he was four years old. His story is startling and effective because it is told in Cory's voice, despite being written by his father and renowned author Patterson. It is also painful. Cory's life changes drastically the first day that Tourette's takes hold of him. He tries endless combinations of medication to get his body under control, but the symptoms only seem to grow worse. Finally when he is seventeen, Cory takes drastic measures to change his life in order to save it. Although most readers may not know someone with Tourette's Syndrome, those who read this book cannot help but gain more understanding and possibly compassion for people with disabilities. Reviewer: Jennifer Waldrop
VOYA - Ann ReddyDamo
The biography of Cory Friedman details his tormented life with severe Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. James Patterson and Hal Friedman (Cory's father) tell this story from Cory's point of view, allowing the reader to feel the intensity of his torment, both physical and emotional. Starting at age five, Cory suffered from tics that actually caused self-injuries and obsessive habits ostracizing him from classmates. He even caused a car crash because he was compelled to touch the steering wheel while his mother was driving. Compounding these diseases, Cory suffered the side effects of the multitude of drug therapies and fluctuating doses he was prescribed to "help" his symptoms. Though at times the drugs left him drooling and obese, they provided no relief, so he self-medicated with alcohol, compulsive smoking, and rage. At seventeen, his passing out nightly ended when he awoke to acrid smoke from his burning couch. Based on detailed notes on medications, physician appointments, and school visits, this is a page-turning examination of what could have been a wasted, despairing life. His parents were relentless advocates for Cory despite the thirteen years of disappointing results. Parents, teachers, and teens gain insight on what it is to feel "like a boy on the end of a puppeteer's string"(p.viii) with his own mind being the puppeteer. While nonfiction resources can provide the facts on mental disorders, this excellent biography puts them into a context that promotes compassion. Reviewer: Ann ReddyDamo

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Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Med Head

My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain
By Patterson, James

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2010 Patterson, James
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316076173

A Father’s Prologue

THE EVENTS RECOUNTED HERE took place over what seemed like—to those of us who lived it—an endless thirteen-year period covering Cory’s life from age five to age seventeen. We decided, with Cory’s blessing, to tell his story in his own voice, because this conveys most powerfully what it was like for Cory to live through these experiences.

Some names and other identifying details of friends, doctors, and medical institutions have been changed.

The extremely unusual events portrayed in this story have been reconstructed from Cory’s own accounts, from detailed medical diaries that were kept by his mother throughout the period, and from direct family observations. Cory confirms that this narrative presents an accurate portrait of his life story.

Over the four years it took to write this book, I was continuously tormented by the decision of whether or not to make the most intimate details of Cory’s life public. Finally, I went to Cory for the guidance I needed, and he resolved the issue in a single sentence, without hesitation:

“If it will help other people like me, yes.”

Hal Friedman



At the Edge of Madness

Chapter 1

I’M SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD and lying like a pathetic, helpless lump in the backseat of our family car, being transported to a place that treats crazy people.

This is an exceptional event, even for me. I know that my brain causes unusual problems that no one has been able to treat, but being insane isn’t one of them.

How and why I’ve gotten to this point is complicated, but the main reason I’m here is more immediate. I’ve finally found the one thing that brings me peace—alcohol.

Now this self-medication has become a life-threatening danger that I cannot fix by myself. The doctors at the place I’m going to promise they can help me. I’ve heard that one before.

After about an hour, we arrive at a large brick building with a sign that reads DRESSLER PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL. In a split second the reality of what’s happening becomes very real and very scary.

“Why does it say that?” I call from the backseat, my heart suddenly pounding.

“Don’t worry about the sign,” my mother says to calm my rising panic. “They treat all different kinds of problems here, Cory.”

Dad looks as worried as I am but says softly, “Let’s not deal with this now, okay?”

Not deal with going to a hospital for psychos? Sure, no problem. What can my father be thinking?

Inside the main entrance, I enter a very crowded, somewhat noisy waiting room. Being on view always makes me uneasy, so as soon as I start to walk, my feet need to perform a triple hop, three quick steps only inches apart, which throws me off balance.

I have to do this in order to satisfy a tension that is building up in my legs and can’t be released any other way. Sometimes this trips me up so much that I go flying to the ground.

I do the triple hop a few more times before reaching out for the safety of one of the empty waiting-room chairs.

Welcome to my fun house, folks.


Excerpted from Med Head by Patterson, James Copyright © 2010 by Patterson, James. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer, ever, according to Guinness World Records. Since his first novel won the Edgar Award in 1977 James Patterson's books have sold more than 300 million copies. He is the author of the Alex Cross novels, the most popular detective series of the past twenty-five years, including Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

Brief Biography

Palm Beach, Florida
Date of Birth:
March 22, 1947
Place of Birth:
Newburgh, New York
B.A., Manhattan College, 1969; M.A., Vanderbilt University, 1971

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