The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide

The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide Review

Award-winning novelist and poet Gayle Brandeis's wrenching memoir of her complicated family history and her mother's suicide

Gayle Brandeis's mother disappeared just after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. Several days later, her body was found: she had hanged herself in the utility closet of a Pasadena parking garage. In this searing, formally inventive memoir, Gayle describes the dissonance between being a new mother, a sweet-smelling infant at her chest, and a grieving daughter trying to piece together what happened, who her mother was, and all she had and hadn't understood about her.

Around the time of her suicide, Gayle's mother had been working on a documentary about the rare illnesses she thought ravaged her family: porphyria and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. In The Art of Misdiagnosis, taking its title from her mother's documentary, Gayle braids together her own narration of the charged weeks surrounding her mother's suicide, transcripts of her mother's documentary, research into delusional and factitious disorders, and Gayle's own experience with misdiagnosis and illness (both fabricated and real). Slowly and expertly, The Art of Misdiagnosis peels back the complicated layers of deception and complicity, of physical and mental illness in Gayle's family, to show how she and her mother had misdiagnosed one another.

Gayle's memoir is both a compelling search into the mystery of one's own family and a life-affirming story of the relief discovered through breaking familial and personal silences. Written by a gifted stylist, The Art of Misdiagnosis delves into the tangled mysteries of disease, mental illness, and suicide and comes out the other side with grace.

Title:The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Razor-sharp, raw, poetic memoir about mothers and daughters, suicide, mental illness, and grief. Gayle Brandeis's mother disappeared shortly after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. Several days ...

  • A brilliant and harrowing peek back through the author's childhood illness, exaggerated and fostered by her brilliant but mentally ill mother who ultimately dies by suicide. Brandeis writes with a poe...

  • Wow. I read the first line, “After my mother hangs herself, I become Nancy Drew,” and didn’t look up until I was 80 pages in. I looked up and dove back in again. This memoir about Brandeis’ mo...

  • This was a painful read, and I don’t know how she brought herself to share so much. But I do appreciate her candor and found so much of her journey interesting, and certain areas are just fascinatin...

  • Very good read not only about mental illness, but, on how to survive a family member's suicide....

  • A strangely fascinating journey that grips you from the start and doesn't let go until you feel as if you know the whole family personally. The unraveling of her mother's (and her own) life yields ins...

  • A lyrical, searing memoir about sudden and devastating loss, this is one 2017 book not to be missed. Moving between the time surrounding her mother's suicide and a posthumous letter to her mother, Gay...

  • As an ardent fan of Gayle Brandeis' words, I pre-ordered the book and had it delivered on publication day. Then sat down and devoured it. The subject is difficult, no doubt about it, but in the end, t...

  • What if the best thing and the worst thing that can happen to a person happen in the same week? The memoirist's son is born and her mom commits suicide a week apart, and for Gayle and her family, noth...

  • Powerful memoir with an intimate and honest look into mental illness and the impact it has on a family. I loved the layering of narrative, letters to her mother, and excerpts from her mother’s docum...