By: Hephzibah Anderson | Let Me Not Be Mad by AK Benjamin review – a doctor on the edge | Neuroscience | The Guardian
Clinical case studies meet personal revelations in a neuropsychologist’s eye‑opening memoir
Author’s notes – those arse-covering pleas bent on cloaking shiftiness with candour – tend to be skipped by all but the pernicketiest of readers. An exception should be made for AK Benjamin’s. The eight lines that preface Let Me Not Be Mad slice straight to the singed, fast-beating heart of a mental-health memoir like no other. Having explained that he’s changed all identifying details, from physical features to backgrounds and locations, as well as blending real and imagined encounters, he adds: “If anything, this confusion makes the book more faithful as an account of my experience.”
It is fair warning. And yet the true nature of that experience isn’t immediately apparent. Benjamin – not his real name, of course – is a clinical neuropsychologist in his late 40s. He specialises in diagnosis and acute rehabilitation, and the book’s opening chapters depict a series of compelling clinical encounters. We meet a distracted older woman named Lucy, who may or may not have Alzheimer’s. There is a troubled boy unable to resist electrocuting himself with a train set, and a fiftysomething financier whose base-jumping brain injury has turned him into “an English Dali”. In his consulting room in a debt-ridden London NHS trust, nothing escapes Benjamin, not even the sweat patches moving across Lucy’s dress, “a live map of drifting continents, like someone drowning in slow motion”.
He juxtaposes glimpses of the everyday horror of neurodegenerative diseases with black comedy