Marcus Byruck grew up in a one-room flat in the Jewish ghetto of London’s East End. His father sold rags from a cart and his mother died in an asylum. Bright and ambitious, he escaped poverty to work his way to Oxford University and on to a career in the burgeoning computer industry of 1960’s Silicon Valley. Then he experienced his first grand-mal seizure, breaking his back and launching a decades-long battle with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.
In this memoir, Marcus Byruck, aged 80, recounts the discovery of the rare form of amnesia associated with his epilepsy, which deletes memories of specific experiences, while leaving intact his ability to recall other forms of information. Since his condition ironically renders him unable to remember much of his life, he draws on the recollections of his wife and son, on the journals and records he meticulously maintained throughout his life, and on his ongoing relationships with the neuroscientists who have studied him.
At each stage of his journey, he candidly describes his own psychological conditions, his struggles with debilitating depression and anxiety, and in the process offers an indictment of mainstream psychiatry’s overreliance on the drugs which nearly killed him.
The result is an intimate and ultimately uplifting portrait of a deeply gifted American immigrant, plagued by a disease that erases his reality with each new day.