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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Diana S. Dawson on 11-03-15
Personal & educational
Patrick Kennedy's story wrapped within that of his parents and extended family is one in common with so many not as famous or advantaged. The lives of the Kennedy's are tabloid popcorn so that is of interest but this book educates us about the many forms of brain illness- alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness and post traumatic stress. Patrick turned his personal illness, a "lemon" into lemon aid, a life's work for mental health parity.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Carole B. Regan on 03-28-16
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful