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Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  461 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Born into enormous privilege as well as burdened by gut-wrenching family tragedy, Christopher Kennedy Lawford now shares his life story, offering a rare glimpse into the private worlds of the rich and famous of both Washington politics and the Hollywood elite. A triumphantly inspiring memoir, the first from a Kennedy family member since Rose Kennedy's 1974 autobiography, L ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2001)
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Lisa of Hopewell
Aug 25, 2009 Lisa of Hopewell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vouyers
Oiy! This guy is such a *rick! I admit he's been through a lot of really gruesome stuff--namely the murder of his two Uncles. It was also hard that his parents' boozing was more important to them than their kids and that their marriage fell apart. It's very difficult being in the limelight as part of one of America's most famous families. It IS very, very hard on kids to be ignored by their parents and to have to beg them to notice. HOWEVER, what kind of a jerk brags for hundreds of pages about ...more
Apr 25, 2008 Pooch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Cast in the authentic voice of a guy talking to his shrink-- believable despite trendy psycho-babble terms --dysfunctional,wealthy and famous, a patented combination for serious problems. This is a book that should NOT have been written, but I didn't stop reading it. Christopher Lawford paints "L" on his forehead as a "second tier" Kennedy yet uses Kennedy as his middle name rather than his actual middle name, Sidney. Hmmm, delve into that one!

I know I wouldn't have read it except fo
Dec 28, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the inside and honest view inside the Kennedy family, and also the biographical info on Peter Lawford, Christopher's father. However, I was very let down, not only in the personal life of an actor I had admired in my childhood (Peter Lawford) but also in Christopher himself, who seems to be quite misogynistic. While he repeatedly insists he had/has great respect for his later mother, his sisters, and most of all his aunt Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (whom he relates having spied on while ...more
I thought the first 200 pages or so were well-written and engaging. Unfortunately, the author decided to skate over his marriage and divorce issues in a way that made him seem arrogant and unfeeling and I lost my respect for him.
Carol Waters
Oct 01, 2014 Carol Waters rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crap
OK, page 300. i have plowed through this ridiculousness a page or two a day. Why? I don't know. Maybe that desire to hold out the hand of responsibility to a suffering addict. But in this book Lawford is a writer, but not a good one.

I think the editor gave up by page 300. He bought his wife-to-be a "bobble" of a wedding ring. B-A-U-B-L-E. Then his dad baled on him. B-A-I-L-E-D. And the most recent confusing sentence read: "He said we had everything and would he take care of."

Then, to the idiocy,
Jan 07, 2014 Sunnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoir of the life and drug addiction of Christopher Kennedy Lawford. Not actually having the Kennedy blame but that of his absent father who was divorced from his mother and out of favour with the Kennedy clan, Lawford appears to have regarded himself as second string in the family dynasty.

His childhood was marked by an absent father, a mother who appeared to be emotionally remote. Her way of dealing with this insecure boy was to palm him and his troubles off onto various friends, relatives and
Catherine Townsend-Lyon
I have to say that I was not to sure I'd enjoy this book. But as a person in Recovery, but not from booze or drugs, from addicted compulsive gambling, I have to give this book an Excellent Rating. How the description of one's sobriety and detox made me learn that what EVER addiction type others may suffer from, trying in Vain to *Control* our addictions, and of course that doesn't work....

I found that the Symptoms, Behaviors, habits, and the Denial, Blame, shame, and all of it is very Similar fo
This book is initially interesting just because it's the family that it is: the Kennedys - and seen from an inside view, told by someone not particularly interested in holding secrets or withholding rough stuff. That said, Lawford is not exactly a riveting writer and doesn't get too deeply into taking the family members apart in terms of personality, demons, etc. - other than the alcohol and drug problems he and some of the others in his generation have faced.

I enjoyed reading the first 50 page
Jan 26, 2015 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Lawford is a self-indulgent narcissistic brat born into much wealth and fame. Luckily, he recognized this fact early enough to save himself from the depths of despair, drugs, and alcohol addiction. This book was interesting and full of twists and turns. Although the American people may have seen so many of the events in Christopher's life played out on news footage or in the pages of gossip magazines, no one ever saw his life and his family from this point of view. I experienced peri ...more
Anna Cate
Dec 05, 2008 Anna Cate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i disliked this book so much that i couldn't remember the name of it. it took me a while to find it. i listened to it on a road trip, which is the only reason i finished it. this particular kennedy sounds like a real jerk. he used the word "profound" repeatedly, yet nothing about his life is profound except that he's a kennedy.
Melissa Prochaska
Another mindless, but very entertaining and interesting Kennedy book! :)
Dec 28, 2014 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, drugs
This is an autobiography of a person who had a front row seat at a very young age to view some incredible history. There is very little about withdrawl, (and a lot about addiction), but there is a suggestion that "symptoms" of withdrawal include self awareness. This book is about Chris' awareness of himself, but much more than that.

The first story is about Chris. What else could become of poor little Christopher? His first few years on this planet were rather wonderful, despite the detached adul
Oct 01, 2016 Lani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The yenta in me was intrigued by what Lawford had to say about his father and the Kennedy family. His life has indeed been interesting. I haven't read his other books. I might check out the one he wrote a few years ago. I appreciated his honesty about his choices.
Sep 25, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Kennedy can write!!! I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. For me, this book is about WAY more than his family & own addiction. It's about life. And now my view of my own past & present life is forever altered, for the richer! While I've never used chemical substances, I may now be addicted to CKL's prose. My only wish is HarperCollins had given the manuscript its' due editing/proofing--this read deserved that. (His Aunt Jackie would have done better!)
Lane Willson
Mar 03, 2012 Lane Willson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, recovery
“Experience, strength and hope” is a mantra frequently heard in the rooms of recovery, and Chris Lawford’s Symptoms of Withdrawal, certainly offers a great deal of all three. Each time an addict or alcoholic goes to the front of the room to tell their story, they are asked to cover three important areas – What we were like, what happened, and what we were like now. Much like the pirate’s code, they more guidelines really, rather than what you would call rules. Each addict telling their story mus ...more
Dec 29, 2012 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Kennedy Lawford shares his horrific journey into substance abuse and the devastation left in its wake in frank, nothing-held-back language with life-giving and -affirming humor. I had a massive crush on his father, Peter Lawford, when I was growing up that transferred to Christopher himself when he showed up on All My Children several years later. Little did I know how Christopher was struggling at the time. But he turned his life around--he got clean and has stayed that way for over ...more
Jessica Mccoy
Dec 26, 2015 Jessica Mccoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book on a whim. I picked it up because President Kennedy's photo was on it. I bought it because of the name. "Symptoms of Withdrawal" is a fascinating read.

I think that people who read it fail to look beyond the stories of glamour and glitz and later on the stories of sex, drugs and rock n roll.

Those who can look past it probably have more experience loving an addict. Perhaps even being an addict. In my case? I saw glimpses of every addict that I have loved in this book. Comi
Jan 10, 2008 Bethany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Christopher Kennedy Lawford is a member of The Kennedy Family, the son of Peter Lawford (of Rat Pack fame), a recovering drug addict, and a very good writer. His memoir is an interesting one, about a famous family that seems - other than the celebrity sightings - to be just as happily dysfunctional as any not-so-famous family. He discusses hanging out with “Uncle Jack,” Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and many others; however, the focus of the memoir is Lawford’s own struggles with addiction.

It c
Mar 20, 2010 Aimeslee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-biography
I found this to be pretty refreshing as Kennedy missives go, and I've read most of them. Chris is open and honest about the perks, constraints and excesses of life as a Kennedy. I still don't know if I buy his assertion that no one ever discusses with him who killed Jack or Bobby, or about Marilyn, the Mob, the womanizing, etc. It seems to me to be more likely that it's just a blood oath rule never to let on that it's discussed or to discuss it. I found it interesting and very sad that his cousi ...more
Jun 16, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
CD/abridged/autobiography: There were parts of this book that were great, but I felt that Lawford either skipped out on some details or they were cut in the abridgement.
Lawford does a good narration, but there were thing I wanted to know. Like how did his wife put up with him all those years. When he wrote the book, he was separated from her and living with one of his various affairs, so I guess he was keeping mum until the divorce was final.
While he gets into why he was addicted, there is an
Jun 12, 2015 Constance rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
"For those of you who bought this book for stories about my descent into darkness, the Rat Pack, and the Kennedys~~you can stop reading now." Page 306, Christopher Lawford.

Five stars is not enough for this incredible journey. I've read many books about the Kennedys, Camelot, and assassinations, but this is a different story. It is written with candor & humor about a road many have traveled.
I appreciate this because addiction is an extremely serious disease that will kill you. The last 83 pag
Sep 24, 2013 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Lawford name drew me to this book. What a combination, show biz glitz and political power. Not a good formula for a happy family. Christopher never had a chance…boozing partying parents from the beginning. I really liked his candid comments. I found his perspective as a Kennedy kid, (even from the outside as he viewed his life) revealing. I’m glad he managed to clean his habits up and not end up like his Dad.

The world of privilege always looks wonderful from the outside and it never is.
Apr 22, 2013 Eden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were times I doubted reading this book would be of much value for me (emotionally, inspirationally, or even research-wise), but in the end, I'm glad I read it. Lawford doesn't "play nice" with others in his life, but he does live life and learned how to live it on his terms... as his own person, not his legacy (and yet as it as well). It's not a Kennedy expose. It's the story of a young man who just wanted to be himself--the good, the bad, the gorgeous and the utterly horrific.

And it wasn'
Oct 09, 2007 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really surprised how well I liked this book. I think some of it came from a fascination with the Kennedy's, and it was held because of Chris's ability to look at himself and his family and tell it how it was, not how it may have been spun. It was an interesting look at someone's life who on the outside should have it all, but really didn't. He takes a realistic view at how selfish he had been in his life and how self-centered he was, which seems to have come from what he learned from his p ...more
Oct 26, 2012 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was more about his addiction and recovery than an autobiography, which I was hoping for. I found him likeable and sypmathetic until the last few chapters when he reveals that he left his wife of almost 20 years and his children, and got involved with a series of what sound like self-absorbed, groupie actresses. Then I realized that he is not as "evolved" as he pretends to be, he's actually self-serving and full of himself because he's a Kennedy.
As the author stated, most people read this book to get some insights into the Kennedy family. If that's what you're looking for this is not the book for you. His family is barely mentioned. Instead you get a memoir of a drug addict , who keeps screwing up in life, and eventually leaves his family to "find himself" and of course the young babe he eventually hooks up with. His self depreciating wit doesn't hide that fact that he's not a nice guy.
Dec 09, 2008 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this story - perhaps because it allows an insight to the "rich and famous", yet it was told honestly and had a happy ending. I saw Christopher Kennedy Lawford and heard him speak at a luncheon. He was quite a dynamic speaker (and handsome too) -that it made me curious to read his story and learn more about his life.
julie Warmington
May 30, 2012 julie Warmington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard a great radio interview with Christopher Lawford Kennedy so got this book out of the library. It is an interesting memoir about his life in the Kennedy family and his struggle to overcome drug addiction. I liked his honesty even if there was one part of the book where he sounded quite misogynistic. Overall I found his story engaging, touching and refreshingly honest.
Jul 01, 2008 Rona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved of those books that just keeps you reading. Written by the son of Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy. Messed up life, becomes a drug addict..talks about Uncle Jack, Aunt Jackie,the whole clan. Very well written and so honest..He writes it as a recovered drug addict that just happens to be a Kennedy. I reccommend it for anyone who likes this type of thing
Aug 30, 2008 Lennie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Lawford writes a memoir about growing up in the Kennedy family. While he's not one of the more well-known cousins, he offers insight into the Kennedy clan as well as his battle with drug addiction. I think this is an interesting book and I appreciate the honesty in which it is written.
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