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Death Grip: A Climber's Escape from Benzo Madness
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Death Grip: A Climber's Escape from Benzo Madness

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  98 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Death Grip chronicles a top climber's near-fatal struggle with anxiety and depression, and his nightmarish journey through the dangerous world of prescription drugs. Matt Samet lived to climb, and craved the challenge, risk, and exhilaration of conquering sheer rock faces around the United States and internationally. But Samet's depression, compounded by the extreme diet a ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published February 5th 2013)
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Note: I received a free advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher through the goodreads first reads program. (This has no influence over my rating or review.)

This is perhaps a four-star book if it were cleaned up a little. Samet is a surprisingly good writer, and his story is an interesting one, but this book is in need of a good proof-reader. There were quite a few simple mistakes, especially near the end. I don't read a lot of ARCs, so I don't know if that's standard and forgivable
Kris Davidson
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very gripping read, especially in part 2. I love the richness of the language and complexity of ideas--it's not written in your typical fluffy, cotton-candy fashion. I also never realized how addictive drugs like Xanax and Klonopin are and have family members on them. I'm going to recommend this to them.
3-22-14: I did like a lot about the book, and I identified with some of the addiction stuff and with a lot of the depression, low self-worth, mental "illness" struggles he describes. BUT, his tone was often haughty and along with the unnecessary use of "three-dollar words," it made it often hard to feel any deep sympathy for or empathy with him--and therefore identifying with and learning from his experience--because he often ends up sounding like a snotty, overprivileged brat. He may very well ...more
Jack Fenwick
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very personal narrative of the short-comings of psychiatric care through the eyes of a professional climber. Specifically, the results of misguided benzodiazepine prescription and treatment, and the resultant snow-balling of inappropriate diagnosis in lieu of it. Climbing metaphors end up being not trite, but perhaps the only appropriate personification here in Samet's vivid descriptions of finding out just how much of a dangerous and nearly fatal position he was put in by those whom we trust ...more
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eating disorder memoirs are so unsettling sometimes, because even though the person is writing from a reflective place where they're recovered to some great extent, this weird energy around food and body size lingers in their words. Like you'll be reading about some crazy diet debacle, and the narrator voice will say something about how 'still today bababa those kids with 3% body fat' or something, and it's like, wait, what? I can't tell if a sentence is in the old voice that's in the throws of ...more
Elizabeth  Holter
This is a fascinating and painful read. Fascinating because Mr. Samet is an expressive writer who is reporting from inside the war zone of the drugged mind. Painful because he is describing a medical culture in the thrall of drugs that alter neurochemistry (not to mention many other types of body chemistry). His description of the inpatient affective disorders unit at Johns Hopkins is a modern version of Nurse Ratched's ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The story is a cautionary tale to b ...more
Mary Moser
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am both a climber and a victim of psychotropic drugs, so this book really hit home for me. Samet is a talented writer and he relays his experience in a way that summons compassion from the reader and opens the eyes of those who have no idea how dangerous prescription drugs can be. I would recommend this book to anyone who is considering psychotropic drugs, as taking them could very well launch the user into a world of hell. It's a sobering reminder that we should not put our full faith in the ...more
Mary Beth
This book is more about rockclimbing than Benzodiazepine addiction and recovery. Don't misunderstand, the writer is brilliant, but his overruse of "four dollar words" and over the top vocabulary will frustrate the average reader. In some excerpts the author breaks away from the wordiness and gives us a more raw interpretation of his current set of circumstances, and this is much appreciated. Overall it is a good read. Definitely worth reading for anyone who has ever been "polydrugged" or struggl ...more
Mary Ann
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a first-person account of withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications, since I have family members on Klonopin and Ambien, but the book ended up sucking me in on so many more levels. Part II, where you get an inside look at the climbing world and climbers' strange eating disorders ("climborexia"), is fascinating. The book builds more and more momentum, offering astounding insight into the way society is pathologizing sadness, stress, and discomfort. I'm still haunted by the glimpses ...more
Nov 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through the Goodreads First Reads program. I signed up for the book because it was by and about a climber. But Death Grip was more about the author's battle with addiction than about climbing adventures. The book was relatively well written and engaging enough that I kept on to the end. While I found the discussion of widely prescribed drugs enlightening, I wouldn't describe it was an enjoyable read. Readers more interested in the central to ...more
Lisa M
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: won
Thank you Goodreads giveaways for the advanced copy of Death Grip. I had no knowledge of rock climbing prior to reading this book and found that was interesting! I felt Matt's struggles throughout his journey, however sometimes I also struggled to follow some of the story. Many times going back to re read a portion. I did enjoy this and thank the author for sharing such an honest look at his life.
Gayle Burns
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read it because the son of someone I know wrote it. The writing is really very good, and although I'm not the target audience for the book (rich kid, anorexic, rock climbing, pill popper) it was interesting and enlightening in helping me understand drug addiction vs. mental illness, drug abuse vs. the horror of prescription drugs and their effects. Particularly vivid descriptions of self-starvation.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author starts with a little problem with anxiety that explodes into addiction to various prescribed drugs. The advice of his doctors makes him worse. It is a nightmare. This book was a difficult read because the author is not someone I can relate to, has a giant ego, and takes little personal responsibility.
Amar Pai
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was interesting. It's not super well written. The author is very forgiving of himself. Yet, I think it gets at some real problems w/ modern psychiatry. Not saying Scientology is the answer, but maybe Tom Cruise had a point. I don't know. Anti-depressants seem to help a lot of people. But the industry is shady.
Aug 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it difficult (and worthwhile) to read such a personal and initially painful account but look forward to a second book where the author's poetic capture of his physical surroundings can be a joy to read.
Christopher Dubey
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a review for another site. His writing is far from perfect, but the story he has to tell is amazing.
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
any person who considers themselves on a healing path will find healing in this book.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly and at times brutally honest look at how addiction to psychotropic drugs happens and why the addiction is so hard to break.
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