A Common Struggle

  • by Patrick J. Kennedy, Stephen Fried
  • Narrated by Johnny Heller
  • 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Patrick J. Kennedy, the former congressman and youngest child of Senator Ted Kennedy, details his personal and political battles with mental illness and addiction, exploring mental health care's history in the country alongside his and every family's private struggles.
On May 5, 2006, the New York Times ran two stories, "Patrick Kennedy Crashes Car into Capitol Barrier" and then, several hours later, "Patrick Kennedy Says He'll Seek Help for Addiction". It was the first time that the popular Rhode Island congressman had publicly disclosed his addiction to prescription painkillers, the true extent of his struggle with bipolar disorder, and his plan to immediately seek treatment. That could have been the end of his career, but instead it was the beginning.
Since then, Kennedy has become the nation's leading advocate for mental health and substance abuse care, research, and policy both in and out of Congress. And ever since passing the landmark Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act - and, after the death of his father, leaving Congress - he has been changing the dialogue that surrounds all brain diseases.
A Common Struggle weaves together Kennedy's private and professional narratives, echoing Kennedy's philosophy that for him, the personal is political and the political personal. Focusing on the years from his "coming out" about suffering from bipolar disorder and addiction to the present day, the book examines Kennedy's journey toward recovery and reflects on Americans' propensity to treat mental illnesses as "family secrets".
Beyond his own story, though, Kennedy creates a roadmap for equality in the mental health community and outlines a bold plan for the future of mental health policy. Written with award-winning health-care journalist and best-selling author Stephen Fried, A Common Struggle is both a cry for empathy and a call to action.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Downfall and redemption

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

For much of this memoir, Kennedy comes across as a spoiled rich kid, blaming his family for his problems (a serious mental illness and a series of addictions) but in the last chapters he finds redemption and a new life as a (more or less) ordinary person in an ordinary family.

What did you like best about this story?

The fact that he has become an advocate for mental health/addiction and physical health coverage parity. I also appreciated seeing evidence that he finally grew up.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Johnny Heller?

Not unless it was another book by a Bostonian.

What else would you have wanted to know about Patrick J. Kennedy and Stephen Fried ’s life?

The writing is uneven and needed better editing.

Any additional comments?

With all its faults, it's worth reading.

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- Carole B. Regan


Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely! Already have re-tweeted, re-posted many times. I'm in recovery & I felt like he did a brilliant job of respectful representation.

What did you like best about this story?

I have often searched for books by and about people in recovery and have usually found that, either, they didn't actually "work" the program & are full of misinformation. Or, they are just trying to exploit what did not work for them as a way to get a "book deal" - bad motives. Kennedy did neither of these. He was always respectful of the "anonymity" factor in our traditions, and, told his own experiences with humility.

Have you listened to any of Johnny Heller’s other performances before? How does this one compare?


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A little of both - happy tears that FINALLY - the country is having a conversation about this deadly disease that is killing our kids. Now, maybe we can truly begin to get past the stigma of it all and get on with the solutions!

Any additional comments?

I would encourage ANYONE that is either fighting their own demons, or, that knows someone who is to read this book. Great gift!!

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- Diane

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-05-2015
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio