Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to twitch his neck. From that day forward his life became a hell of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances, and Cory embarked on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist to discover the cause of his disease. Soon it became unclear what tics were symptoms of his disease and what were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life was a living hell.
Against Medical Advice is the true story of Cory and his family's decades-long battle for survival in the face of extraordinary difficulties and a maddening medical establishment. It is a heart-rending story of struggle and triumph with a climax as dramatic as any James Patterson thriller.
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About the Author
Hometown:Palm Beach, Florida
Date of Birth:March 22, 1947
Place of Birth:Newburgh, New York
Education:B.A., Manhattan College, 1969; M.A., Vanderbilt University, 1971
Read an Excerpt
Against Medical Advice
One Family's Struggle with an Agonizing Medical Mystery
By James Patterson Hal Friedman Cory Friedman
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One I'M SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD and lying like a pathetic, helpless lump in the backseat of our family car, being transported to a place that treats crazy people.
This is an exceptional event, even for me. I know that my brain causes unusual problems that no one has been able to treat, but being insane isn't one of them.
How and why I've gotten to this point is complicated, but the main reason I'm here is more immediate. I've finally found the one thing that brings me peace - alcohol.
Now this self-medication has become a life- threatening danger that I cannot fix by myself. The doctors at the place I'm going to promise they can help me. I've heard that one before.
After about an hour, we arrive at a large brick building with a sign that reads DRESSLER PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL. In a split second the reality of what's happening becomes very real and very scary.
"Why does it say that?" I call from the backseat, my heart suddenly pounding.
"Don't worry about the sign," my mother says to calm my rising panic. "They treat all different kinds of problems here, Cory."
Dad looks as worried as I am but says softly, "Let's not deal with this now, okay?"
Not deal with going to a hospital for psychos? Sure, no problem. What can my father be thinking?
Inside the main entrance, I enter a very crowded, somewhat noisy waiting room. Being on view always makes me uneasy, so as soon as I start to walk, my feet need to perform a triple hop, three quick steps only inches apart, which throws me off balance.
I have to do this in order to satisfy a tension that is building up in my legs and can't be released any other way. Sometimes this trips me up so much that I go flying to the ground.
I do the triple hop a few more times before reaching out for the safety of one of the empty waiting- room chairs.
Welcome to my fun house, folks.
Chapter Two MANY OF THE PEOPLE in the waiting area are still staring at me as my right hand shoots up in the air with the middle finger extended. Oh boy, here we go, I think. Giving people the bird is another one of my involuntary movements, or tics, that pop up exactly when they shouldn't. Try telling people that one's not deliberate.
Another middle-finger salute. Hi, everybody!
For a moment I think about the new medicines I'm taking, which are, as usual, not doing their job. Wellbutrin for depression, Tenex to keep me calm, Topamax as an "experiment" to see if a seizure medicine will help. So far I've been on fifty or sixty different medicines, none of which have worked - and a few of them can become deadly when washed down with Jack Daniel's.
Psychiatric hospital. A place for insane people, I'm thinking.
I know I'm not insane, even though the things I do make me look that way. But I do have a fear that I can think myself insane, and being in this place could push me over the edge. Going insane is probably my worst fear. If it happens, I won't know what, or where, reality is. To me, that's the ultimate isolation - to be separated from my own mind.
Eventually a receptionist calls my name and then starts asking me strange, bewildering questions. One of my eyes begins to twitch rapidly, and my tongue jumps out of my mouth like a snake's.
Occasionally I make a loud grunting sound like I've been punched hard in the stomach. Often my tics come one at a time, but today they're arriving in clusters of three or four, probably due to the stress.
I once told my parents that they couldn't live through a single day with what I go through every day of my life, and that was when I was a lot better than I am now.
It takes another hour or so for my parents to be interviewed by a doctor. When they come out, I can see that my mother has been crying. My father looks exhausted and edgy.
When it's my turn with the doctor, I can't stop myself from shooting him the bird, too. The guy is good about it. He totally ignores it. He's young and gentle and pretty much puts me at ease.
"I drink more than I should at night," I tell him, skipping the part about almost burning down my parents' house when I passed out on the couch with a lit cigarette. "I guess I like to get a little tipsy."
This is the understatement of the year. Tipsy is my code word for totally wasted.
The doctor gives me a complete physical, and when it's over he says I'm as healthy as anyone he's seen, which strikes me as very funny.
"So I guess I can go now?" I joke, punctuated by an involuntary tongue thrust.
Later, back in the waiting area, a male attendant approaches us and asks for any medicines we might have brought.
"What do you mean?" my father asks.
"He needs these," my mother cautions, taking out a large plastic bag crammed with pill bottles.
"The doctors will take care of that," the attendant answers.
Mom reluctantly turns over the stash.
A while later, a female nurse approaches and leads the three of us deep into the rear of the building.
Everything is a lot different here. It's darker and there aren't any people around. It's a spooky place.
I fight off a really bad feeling that I'm going somewhere I won't be able to handle.
Eventually we stop in front of a massive door with a sign that says JUVENILE PSYCHIATRIC WARD D.
Mental kids, I think.
"That's not me," I snap, pointing to the sign. "Mom, you know I'm not crazy."
The nurse says, "We get all kinds of people here," as though arriving at an insane asylum is an ordinary event in anybody's life.
"You're here for your drinking," Mom adds, "which they treat."
"It doesn't say that on the signs."
The nurse takes a large metal key out of her jacket pocket, and I freeze at the sight of it. I've never been in a hospital where the doors have to be locked. I come to a sudden realization: You don't lock doors to keep people out. You lock doors to keep them in.
Excerpted from Against Medical Advice by James Patterson Hal Friedman Cory Friedman Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
In the tradition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Patterson and Friedman manage to get deep inside debilitating illness, and show us what life looks like from that perspective. Against Medical Advice is an amazing story of courage, fortitude and a family's love, simply told.
A work of naked truth, as disturbing as it is important-Against Medical Advice turns Tourette's Syndrome inside out and shows us what it is like to be trapped inside a brain that has a nightmarish mind of its own. This true story of Hal Friedman's son, Cory, is a gift of honesty, huge courage, and hope, and a reminder that against all medical advice and odds, human beings can prevail.
Inspiring...a testament to the importance of family and the resilient nature of the human spirit.
Against Medical Advice is a true story that reads like the most riveting of pageturners. Read it and feel at gut-level what it's like to be a child whose life is almost destroyed by a hellish array of nightmare medical symptoms. Best of all, watch what happens when an entire family stands together against all odds, armed with strength, perseverance, and love for one another.
Against Medical Advice is both harrowing and heartbreaking, but is also a story of astonishing courage. This book stands as a testament to the amazing power of one family's unconditional love for each other.
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Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to shake his head and his life was never the same again. From that day forward his life became a hell of uncontrollable tics, urges, and involuntary utterances. Eventually he is diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and Cory embarks on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist, enduring countless combinations of medications in wildly varying doses. Soon it becomes unclear what tics are symptoms of his disease and what are side effects of the drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Despite his lack of control, Cory is aware of every embarrassing movement, and sensitive to every person's reaction to his often aggravating presence. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life is a living hell.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Cory Friedman is a young man who has suffered from Tourette Syndrome since he was 5 years old. Hal Friedman (Cory's father) and James Patterson have collaborated on this book to bring us the most real, compelling and inspiring retelling of Cory's life and how he struggled every day (every minute) with a debilitating diagnosis. As a mother of 3 children, all of whom have Tourette Syndrome, I can authoritatively say that there was no fictionalization to this story. The events, misery and anguish that Cory and his parents went through are very real, and I'm certain that the feelings that came across were not amplified in any way, in fact sometimes, I thought maybe they were downplayed a little. I admire Cory for his stamina, resiliency and his determination. My children have already gained strength from Cory's experience as I have told them about his life and struggles.
I recommend this book to everyone, especially if someone in your life has been touched by Tourette Syndrome.
I joined the James Patterson Community and was the 1000th member to join. I actually got the book sent to me in the mail yesterday and I read it very quickly, could not put it down as is always the case with his books. This is his first non-fiction book and it did not let me down. You feel a connection with the main character as soon as you start reading. James Patterson has a future in the non-fiction field. I suggest you run out in October and pick up your copy!
James Patterson, Hal Friedman
Little, Brown & Co., 2008
Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 11/08
I read this book in one sitting¿
James Patterson and Hal Friedman share the story of Cory Friedman¿s life with Tourette¿s Syndrome. Cory was misdiagnosis and given the wrong medication repeatedly. He spent his life twitching and jerking, making involuntary motions and uttering involuntary words. He developed uncontrollable fears and obsessive habits. ¿I never know if it¿s the medicine itself, the combination of medicines, the doses, or the usual ups and downs that happen with Tourettes.¿
I do not think anyone can begin to understand the hell the Friedman¿s, especially Cory, have lived through. My heart aches for them and rejoices for them. Cory, you are a remarkable young man with a remarkable family.
Against Medical Advice grabbed my attention and would not let go. I read this book in one sitting. The story is told from Cory¿s point of view. I think family photographs would have added to this book; however, I can also understand that the family might have considered that intrusive. I highly recommend this book.
This was something that once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Great read and very informative as well. It also helped me understand what some of the students today are facing in elementary schools. I am going to have my daughter read this, as a former classmate of hers was recently diagnosed with Tourettes. I think it will be a great insight for her about how another person feels.
I read this book in one sitting (a first for me). Well written, with great insight into the disease and what it is like to live with it. Definitely worth your time!
This is a disturbing yet truly inspiring story of how determination and devoted parents can help to overcome a devastating disease and incompetant medical treatment for their son. A must read for parents and educators of special needs children.
This story will pull at your heartstrings. Told from Cory's point of view, it allows you to see his pain and agony from the inside. I'm sure the story would have been just as good had it been told from Hal's point of view, writing it this way, gives us readers that little bit more. Before reading this story, I hadn't a clue what it must be like to live with an illness like this, and it will definitely open my eyes to the struggles many people with Tourette's and other similar disorders deal with on a daily basis.
This is a very touching story of trying to make it in a world where different is not always accepted. I experienced some of the same response from people. Patterson and Friedman did an excellent job writing what life can feel like when a person is not like the others.
This book is narrated by the main character Cory, the reader then sees the world through the eyes of a person with Tourettes syndrome. At the tender age of five Cory begins to experience uncontrollable ticks, compulsions and odd urges. This book brings out the emotional and physical pain of doing actions that hurt others; Cory loses his childhood innocence to battle disease that is beginning to become invincible.
Cory gains OCD and Tourettes enhance the symptoms of OCD, his family attempt to help their child by getting help from doctors. However no matter whom they would go to nothing helps, in all actuality the prescriptions tend to enhance or create new problems.
After a near death event the Friedman family takes their son off of the prescriptions and medication suggested by the Doctors and professionals. However Cory still remains in torture in his own body. Along with his constant pain and suffering, Cory still tries to attend school and retain a somewhat normal childhood. The school also tries to embrace Cory and help him, but with his extreme OCD and Tourettes Cory has a very difficult time with making friends and behaving like everyone else.
When attending school became near impossible and Cory's drinking habits would steadily increase, Cory's parents send him to a wilderness camp in the snow tipped mountains. it was a camp that was designed to stop teens from their addictions, they way that would happen would be that because it is a wilderness camp everyone must work together to survive. Through this harsh and primitive way of living, Cory learns how to work through his Tourettes and OCD. Cory, although in agonizing and freezing pain, is able to find a somewhat relaxing part within himself-past the Tourettes and OCD.
Later on in the story Cory goes back to his old High school, but is faced with the probability of repeating his junior year. Through the fighting efforts of his mother and his own will, Cory manages to move on.
Cory's battle for control over his own life is inspiring and at times depressing his longing for the freedom he found on the mountain wilderness camp. The theme of nature and family are major the major themes of this novel.
The theme of nature against society is a large and constantly seen within the pages. While stranded in snow-covered mountains Cory learns how to live in peace with himself and how to work through most of his ticking and compulsions. Although the care and loving helping hand of his family was always appreciated, Cory was able to handle his internal problems when he knew- that in the mountains- he would have to take care of himself.
The theme of family is also an important theme to recognize. Cory constantly mentions how he hates hurting them, when his ticking gets so out of control that he becomes violent. Cory describes how he is able to gain his determination by watching his parents fight to find a cure. Family is important because they love and care for one another, and that is precisely how the Friedman family are to their son.
This is the true story of a boy who suffered from Tourette's syndrome, OCD and anxiety. Cory began experiencing the tics of Tourette's before he was five years old, had a horrible time through his school years, and then suddenly got better in his junior year of high school. The story is told from his voice, but is written by his father, so I felt a lack of credibility. Mom and Dad were like stick-figure characters: Mom always loved, Dad was always there. Where were their feelings, their reactions, their struggles? I think there could have been more about the family. Cory had a horrible time with his diseases. But, enough already. The book went on too long describing his problems, without giving us a sense of developing story. And then, all of a sudden, he goes to a Wilderness Camp and gets cognitive therapy, and all is solved? Dad, the author, in the epilogue, credit's Cory's strength and determination after he hits rock-bottom. Maybe so, but I didn't get that from the narrative.I was disappointed.
Fascinating tale of a young man who suffered horrendously with Tourette's syndrome during his growing up years. Much of that suffering was due to the medical treatments that were tried on him. His family never gives up on him and their support enables him to make it through his ordeal and discover his own way of overcoming his condition. An excellent read that helps the reader understand the emotions of someone experiencing a disease that takes over their bodily movements.
Against Medical Advice, gripping, honest, and absolute truth......As the mother of a child who underwent a similar life, I applaud the FriedmanFamily and Mr. Patterson for bringing his story to the world....and a special hats off to Cory......Thank you for presenting this in Cory's words, as he spoke directly to this mother's heart. With the exception of only 3 medications, my son also endured the same pharmacy roulette used by Cory's doctors when they didn't know how to treat the problems. He spentfrom age seven to twenty-one, medicated and housed, in residential treatment because they didn't know what to do. Cory beat the odds, and I embraced every word of his story. Educators, mental health professionals and every parent should read this book!!!
The brain is a marvelous, incredible joy to behold -- when it is functioning properly. When the signals are crossed, chaos results, leaving frustration, fear, anger, pain, sorrow and helplessness.At the age of five, Hal Friedman's son Cory began to twitch frantically. Over the years, Tourette's Syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, alcohol, and an exceedingly high level of anxiety took over Cory's life and made it and those around him a living hell.An entire spectrum of anti psychotic, anti depressant, anti seizure, blood pressure, mood enhancer, mood depressor drugs were prescribed. Some created a larger problem.In the end, a cognitive behavior modification program and a wilderness survival camp were the only things that helped.The story was interesting and I learned a great deal about Tourette's. However, I remained skeptical throughout. Cory's parents appeared to be too unreal, too perfect, too understanding.Because the story was told in the voice of Cory, but written by his father, the level of honesty was compromised and thus it detracted from the realness of this very complicated and difficult situation faced by Cory, his family, his teachers, his therapists and all with whom he came in contact.This book will NOT be on the list of top reads for 2010.
This "memoir of an illness" is an excellent narrative of one particular family's journey through the medical maze which often results when doctors have to treat multiple disorders and may not have a correct picture of the actual diagnosis or of the appropriate treatments.The title seems to indicate a critical breaking point in the narrative between trusting the doctors and moving on without them. Although there is that moment in the book, it is very brief and mostly glossed over. I would have liked to see more emphasis on how the characters felt at the time of that transition.
This is the story of a boy named Corey who has Tourette's Syndrome combined with a severe case of OCD. We have all seen fictional movies about individuals who are afflicted with various disabilities and/or psychopathic tendencies, but these images (at least for me) seem so detached and unrealistic. After reading Against Medical Advice, I now understand how realistic these conditions truely are. The book was written in Corey's own words, which made this nonfictional story read like a page turning suspence thriller. Before reading the book I saw an interview with James Patterson where he said he wanted the book to be a page turner, where he felt most nonfiction titles were not. I can tell you that Patterson and Friedman nailed it. I am saddened when I come to the realization that so many people are afflicted with debilitating conditions. Although it is always nice to read of those who can persevere under the most dire set of circumstances.
Story is interesting, but the writing is typical Patterson. Yuck.
This is a fascinating (true) account of one family's experience with a son who has Tourettes, OCD, and the worst possible cases of all. Anyone who has ever had a medical condition that made doctors scratch their heads, or has known anyone who experienced that or if you are looking for a moving true story, this is oddly fabulous.
Absolutely fascinating! An extremely well written story of such unknown disease. The book left me with such a huge appreciation of what suffers and their families go through, and looking to learn more about this scary disease.
This was a heart-breaking and also inspiring look at one young man's struggle with Tourette's Syndrome. I have to say that it reinforced my feelings of caution towards medication. Not that I don't think medication can be helpful, but as Cory's family found - it's hard to know exactly what is having certain effects when there are so many medications involved. I felt like I had a better understanding of Tourette's and OCD, as well as more empathy for those suffering from various mental disorders. Still, I can imagine it was extremely challenging for all those who cared for and coped with Cory during his growing up years. I am so impressed and inspired by his parents. As the parent of a child who has his own mild difficulties, I feel a renewed desire to be a more patient and understanding mother.
Synopsis: A fast-paced, non-fiction account of a boy's struggle with Tourette's, OCD, anxiety, and alcoholism Hal Friedman's son Cory began shaking his head around age 5. This tic became one of many brought on by Tourette's syndrome, and fueled by OCD and anxiety. The book is told through Cory's eyes. It demonstrates his struggle to look and act "normal," and his difficulty making friends. The family saw numerous doctors and tried a vast amount of pharmaceutical combinations, with no relief for Cory. As a teenager, he did find relief in smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. After almost burning the house down, his parents began an intervention. They sent him to winter wilderness camp followed by a stay at the Wellington Clinic. Cory's ticcing begins to get under control as he learns to manage the OCD and anxiety. Pros & Cons: I first saw this book on Loosha's thread. It is a fast paced, and interesting first person account of what it is like to live with a severe case of Tourettes. I understand the literary merit of writing it in first person, but I question the validity of how "authentic" it is since it is written by Cory's father and James Patterson. Cory did give his approval and copies of his mother's medical journal are included - but still, I feel cheated some how.
A non-fiction story told in the page turning manner of a Patterson novel. Using the son's voice of the co-author, this memoir relates a teenager's point of view of living with Tourette's and OCD for several years.So it seems like Friedman provided the material and Patterson wrote it....a good combination for making this material more readable and less clinical. I am sure it will reach more people because of the easy readability.
Somone plz help
Hi im mark im a guy and i need advice about this girl that i have a crush on. We met doing a stair moniter job and she was funny and shy. At first i thought of her as just a friend but now i think of her as more. Obviously she just thinks of me as a friend but i dont how to tell her what i feel. Please help.
How do you tell a boy you like him if he keeps pretending that he doesn't know even though he does and does not want to believe you?