Anyone who has ever loved an emotionally troubled person will draw inspiration from this remarkable story of brotherly love. Jay Neugeboren and his brother, Robert, grew up in Brooklyn in the years following World War II. Both brothers -- smart, popular, and well-adjusted -- seemed well on the way to successful lives when for reasons that remain ...
Anyone who has ever loved an emotionally troubled person will draw inspiration from this remarkable story of brotherly love. Jay Neugeboren and his brother, Robert, grew up in Brooklyn in the years following World War II. Both brothers -- smart, popular, and well-adjusted -- seemed well on the way to successful lives when for reasons that remain mysterious to this day Robert had a mental breakdown at age nineteen. For the past thirty years Jay has been not only his brother's friend and confidante, but his sole caretaker as Robert continues to suffer from the ravages of chronic mental illness, which has also kept him institutionalized for most of his life. Imagining Robert is the most honest book to date on the lives of the millions of families that must cope, day by day and year by year, over the course of a lifetime, with a condition for which, in most cases, there is no cure. By rendering his brother in all his complexity and mystery, Jay Neugeboren has shown how even the grimmest of lives can be sustained by the power of love. "Hundreds of thousands of families have been waiting for Imagining Robert because its story is their story too". -- Joanne Greenberg, author of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
Publishers Weekly, 1996-12-30 Novelist Neugeboren (An Orphan's Tale) has written a detailed, exquisitely painful and always thoughtful account of his younger brother's long struggle with mental illness. He includes scenes from their Brooklyn childhood of constantly warring parents, extremes of love and hatred, of holding on too tightly and rejecting too absolutely. Robert Neugeboren, who was born in 1943, suffers from a variety of disorders, all roughly grouped together under schizophrenia. He has needed long periods of restraint and multiple hospital stays. His 30-year battle has coincided frighteningly with numerous changes in our attitudes toward and treatment of such illness. Shuttled from doctor to doctor, Robert has been dosed with almost every polysyllabic wonder drug that has surfaced. Some worked; some didn't. None offered the "magic bullet" that the author hoped and prayed for. Neither did such bizarre fads as putting patients into insulin-induced comas. The narrative touches on the author's parallel life as a writer, academic, divorcT and father of two and is shot through with an understandable sense of guilt. Could the family have done more? Would greater financial resources have changed Robert's chances for a normal life? The banal dysfunction of the New York State mental health establishment is horrifying in this portrayal, yet, to most readers of the daily newspaper, totally expected. Nothing is solved here, but Neugeboren's account may bring understanding to those who can barely imagine such horrors and comfort to those who have and have felt alone. Photos. (Feb.)
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