Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book Review: Andy Warhol was a Hoarder

This book, Andy Warhol was a Hoarder, is fresh from the presses. Our library acquired it in February. I could tell it was a 2016 publication because the author referred to the neurologist Oliver Sacks in the past tense (he died in August of 2015). My fascination with the brain and how it works extends to mental illness and how it influences our lives. This book promises to take you inside the minds of history's great personalities.

Author Claudia Kalb selected twelve individuals to present in this book about how various famous people would probably be diagnosed today. She explores Princess Diana's eating disorders, Abraham Lincoln's clinical depression, Frank Lloyd Wright's narcissistic personality disorder, Charles Darwin's anxiety disorder, George Gershwin's probable ADHD, and Einstein's possible Asperger's Syndrome (among others). Each chapter focuses on the celebrity and their accomplishments, then delves into their particular neurosis.

I especially liked one particular passage that spoke of the very premise my most recent novel is attempting to convey, that the world would be a very shallow place if it attempted to strain out all the irregularities and limitations presented by certain "illnesses" or "diseases." Where would our world be without the Lincolns, the Gershwins, the Einsteins of our past? What if doctors attempted to eradicate their quirks by medicating them for their ADHD or anxiety disorders? Would the medicine rob us of the great achievements such hardships and challenges often produce? Our limitations are part and parcel of who we are. This book offers a key-hole look into very interesting lives and the disorders that challenge even the greats among us.

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