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A Mind Unraveled

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  76 reviews
The compelling story of an acclaimed journalist and New York Times bestselling author's ongoing struggle with epilepsy--his torturous decision to keep his condition a secret to avoid discrimination, and his ensuing decades-long battle to not only survive, but to thrive.

As a college freshman, Kurt Eichenwald awoke one night on the floor of his dorm room, confused and in pai
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 16th 2018 by Ballantine Books
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Canadian Reader
Rating: 3.5
Note: Possible spoilers

Kurt Eichenwald was diagnosed with epilepsy in the late 1970s, when he was a freshman at Swarthmore, the prestigious private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. The first signs of the disease were short episodes of staring. To friends, Kurt would appear to be lost in a world of his own: dazed and absent. He had earlier been ill with paratyphoid fever (with delirium) and had also suffered a concussion. Whether either of these conditions predisposed him to the s
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn’t stop reading. Eichenwald’s memoir is a powerful and riveting story of how he fought for what was right—the right to have good doctors, the right for a job that was inclusive of him and believed in what he could do, and the right to live as normal of a life as possible. The story begins as Eichenwald is diagnosed with epilepsy during his freshman year of college. After being told by an awful doctor that he should restrict his goals, he is continually misdiagnosed other doctors and almo ...more
Michelle Arredondo
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With a little over 41o pages it's safe to say that this book is a lot. Alot of information, a lot of content, a lot to think about and ponder issues within our own lives. A Mind Unraveled: A Memoir by Kurt Eichenwald is the true story of Kurt Eichenwald an acclaimed journalist and best selling author and his tormenting struggle with epilepsy. Easily among the list of top 10 non-fiction books that I have read this year so far.

Eichenwald first began experiencing symptoms when he was in high schoo
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
I would have read this book at one clip had my Nook not required a charge toward the end. Riveting, infuriating, informative, human, loving, and reflective -- this memoir tells the story of a man who refused to give into institutional stupidity, professional insufficiency, and personal trauma. He decided, twice in his life, to proceed to a specific goal, one academic, one personal. He achieved his goals because of his own strength while undergoing traumas beyond what most of his readers can even ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A masterfully written text by a young man--now a middle-aged man, husband, and father--who happened to have epilepsy and was kicked out of Swarthmore College his freshman year by a bunch of lying psychologists, neurologists, the dean, and the security department. All of them had progressed past the idea that epilepsy was caused by demon possession, but that it was still pretty weird and dangerous to be falling down and convulsing. They wouldn't admit that his epilepsy was the reason they were ki ...more
Ouida Foster
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author's telling of his path to success in family and career is exciting and compelling. Then, add in all of the challenges that his lifetime with epilepsy contributed to every facet of his journey is amazing. If you are unaware of the impact of Epilepsy, please read and see how a young man pushed and grew and fought his path to success and you will learn about epilepsy along the way. If you do know about epilepsy (I have epilepsy), you may still see parts of his story where there are simila ...more
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways-won
I received an advanced copy of A Mind Unraveled as part of the giveaway program. Reading Eichenwald's story is like reading my own autobiography. It's amazing how much the public still does not understand epilepsy. Only those who are the closest to the individual really know what the person experience. Kurt was fortunate to have roommates and family who stood by him throughout his life. I thought the idea of making recordings was such a great idea. I wish someone had made that suggestion to me o ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. I was angry with the doctors, the college administration! How could they be so callous? I applaud Kurt in his perseverance in his goals and not letting his epilepsy define him. Kudos to his wife and children too.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my number one read of 2018. This book will rip you apart. It is agonizing to go on this journey of epilepsy with Kurt Eichenwald. It is infuriating to meet a bevy of incompetent doctors. There are so many people in this book that I absolutely hated. Yet through it all Kurt never gave up. He kept pushing on demanding answers and never letting epilepsy keep him from accomplishing his goals even when it was really difficult. This book tackles very difficult subjects but is written beautiful ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
This is a well-written, informative, and enlightening book. A long read, but it went by fast because I could not put it down. Hard to believe the way doctors and Swarthmore failed him at many turns, but they did. Disgusting, actually. We should be able to trust those in the medical profession, but here is proof of a frightening opposite scenario. I felt and empathized with the author's anger and frustration, but cheered on his mother when she took control. That Eichenwald came through all of it ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars
“The compelling story of an acclaimed journalist and New York Times bestselling author’s ongoing struggle with epilepsy—his torturous decision to keep his condition a secret to avoid discrimination, and his ensuing decades-long battle to not only survive, but to thrive.”
Oh, holy buckets! This book is simply amazing, awe-inspiring, utterly maddening and truly heart warming. I am shocked at how deeply this book touched me. However, as a woman with uncontrolled epilepsy, this book really hit
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
An in-depth personal account of living with epilepsy, the unvarnished reality of misdiagnosis and the struggles that people with medical challenges face every day. It is quite amazing how Kurt Eichenwald’s determination, motivation, and belief in himself helped power him through the many dark periods in his life as he struggled to get accurate diagnosis despite numerous obstacles. Much has to do with his personality and his persistent nature - at times confrontational, at others slipping into th ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Exceptionally well written memoir that completely held my interest. It’s the story of one young man’s diagnosis of epilepsy in the late 70s. I often find the details in a memoir tedious but this author found the exact right balance. An epilepsy diagnosis is horrible but I had forgotten what a terrible stigma was associated with it in the past and I hadn’t known how hard it often was to get the right diagnosis. This author’s trials and tribulations were way beyond horrible and at times it is hard ...more
Lynn Donahue
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating look at the life of an epileptic man who just wanted a life like everyone else had. There is so much stigma attached to the condition that he was often forced to fight for the right to do normal things like attend college and get a job. His rise above all the odds was inspiring and you find yourself rooting for him as he forces open closed doors. A true tribute to the human spirit and what can be accomplished through hard work, a supportive family and an unfailing belief i ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an amazing, compelling story that was difficult to put down. But it started to read like a giant humblebrag, particularly in the second half. I couldn’t shake the thought that this was Lean In for folks with disabilities.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
---Full disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---

So, this guy is impressive. Firstly, he deserves kudos for surviving his teens & twenties with such crappy excuses for medical care. Secondly, he deserves recognition for being so honest about his experiences & sharing them with the world, considering what a terribly difficult thing that is to do. Since the time periods described, I know medical care & standards have improved dramatically, & that’s a great thi

Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
I very much enjoyed this book and I recommend it. It’s not a spoiler because Kurt Eichenwald has been very vocal about it but he made his peace with Swarthmore College in later years and they fully apologized for his treatment. I think it makes the book easier to read if you know this because his treatment there was so painful and heartbreaking.

Living with epilepsy is hard and he doesn’t pull any punches. In the Audible version I liked how various people in his life talked briefly about their o
Deborah Martinez
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I devoured this book, a compelling read!

A memoir about Kurt Eichenwald struggle with epilepsy. The discrimination he faced in college followed by the work force are horrid to read about.

Eichenwald's story tugged my heart strings a bit more because I suffer with chronic migraines, and so many of his stories about the doctor visits, being over medicated, and being hospitalized I could relate to first hand. A few quotes that really stuck out to me as I relate:

"People like me lived in the shadows,
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since a book, particularly a non-fiction book, captivated me like this one did. The author tells of his journey with epilepsy which vacillates from being heartbreaking to heartwarming. I have long thought that there are many people in the healthcare field who are completely incompetent, and this novel reinforces that--as well as the notion that when healthcare providers can't figure something out, they often won't admit this which can send a patient down a devastating path. ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I’ve ever read :) and like most memoirs, this was an eye-opening story! As a person with epilepsy, Kurt Eichenwald faced such tremendous challenges and obstacles, the likes of which I’ve never imagined, that drove him to heights of determination and accomplishment he might not have otherwise seen. Truly, as he alluded to in his story, if he had not overcome them they would have killed him. This was an inspirational, informative, and powerful reminder about how to love and s ...more
Rita Ciresi
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This memoir, told in serviceable prose, educates readers about the trials of living with severe epilepsy. The author's mistreatment by family members, physicians, college officials, and employers illuminates the hurdles that people with chronic illness must overcome to get through daily life. I liked the way that Kurt Eichenwald included statements from those who helped him out through the years, and also those who might have unknowingly harmed his chances for success. This gives the memoir a br ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely the best book I've read this year. The incredible story of what one man faced for so many years after his epilepsy diagnosis is frustrating and life-changing for the reader. I'll never approach doctors in the same way again. Mr Eichenwald's writing reads like fiction with absolutely no slow spots in the entire book. It deserves accolades and awards and a wide-spread readership. Do you think I loved this memoir? Definitely!! Read this book!!
Kathy Stone
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from Goodreads. I enjoyed this memoir. This is not easy stuff to read. Epileptics are greatly misunderstood and the drugs to control the condition are very toxic. When the author is first diagnosed his father sends him to a research, academic doctor. This is not a good fit as his blood levels are never checked and monitored. It is as if the doctor is using the eighteen year old as an experiment, but that is not quite true as the doctor conducting research will come later. After a ...more
Diane Payne
Jun 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This memoir will prove to be useful to other people, especially those suffering with epilepsy. Eichenwald does a thorough (perhaps too much at times) job detailing his experiences of first being diagnosed, getting kicked out of college, and eventually landing a successful career. As a memoir, I wish the focus wasn't just on his epilepsy, even though the illness consumes his life, but more about other factors in his life. it's well written, honest, and revealing, but I found the excerpts from oth ...more
Bryan Clark
I won this book in a giveaway, and i literally could not put it down. It was a ver fascinating outlook about a man living with epilepsy, and everything he went through.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Mind Unraveled: A Memoir by Kurt Eichenwald is a beautiful, tragic, and strong memoir. I found I had tears in my eyes at many of the things Kurt experienced, both sad at times, and joyful when we was triumphant.

This is the memoir of Kurt Eichenwald who was diagnosed with Epilepsy as a young adult nust entering college in the 1980’s. This book details the author’s struggles with incompetent doctors and college staff who are also incompetent and afraid of what they don’t know. Eichenwald’s docto
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't hardly put this book down. Very interesting, I won this book and I loved it. Thank you!!!
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Mind Unraveled by Kurt Eichenwald

This is a remarkably courageous biography of Kurt Eichenwald and his life long journey with debilitating epilepsy at his heels. There are so many adjectives to describe Kurt's story; courageous, resilient, sad, frustrating, infuriating, scary, strong, remarkable, humiliating, debilitating, but most of all, he has shared with his readers an incredibly humbling educational experience.

I found this story shocking on so many levels. Most shocking of all was that a r
Sarah Wade
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WOW. This was such an incredible book. My 2 sons have epilepsy and this book was recommended on an epilepsy site I follow. I was deeply engrossed from the beginning. The pain this man had to endure is unfathomable. To think that in 1982 "epilepsy" had so many stigmas and was so misunderstood. 1982 was not that long ago! The line from Dr. Naarden about how epilepsy is like having brown hair, "Some people have it," may have been one of the best lines in the book. That simple phrase just sums up so ...more
Jennifer M
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of my top 3 books of 2018. Kurt Eichenwald’s life makes for an exciting story. I was on the edge of my seat, rooting for him the entire time. His strength, keen intellect, resourcefulness, and work ethic are remarkable. His first years in journalism were fascinating.

As a person with epilepsy, thank you for sharing your story, Kurt. While epilepsy isn’t particularly rare, it’s likely that a lot of people with epilepsy don’t know anyone else with the condition, so it can feel isolating. This b
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“Whitman approached Friend. “Dorie?” she said. “Can we speak?” Whitman waited until everyone else left the room to say more. “I want to tell you, if Kurt sues the school, he will win,” she said. “And not only that—I’ll testify on his behalf.” 0 likes
“with growing horror. People at the school had lied to them directly, pretending I was making up stories. The tape ended. No one spoke. “Well?” I asked. “I’m calling your lawyer,” my mother finally said. “And,” my father added, “let’s call your friend at Health and Human Services.” He shook his head, a fury on his face unlike any I had ever seen. “We’re going to destroy this school,” he muttered coldly.” 0 likes
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