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Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,187 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Electroboy is an emotionally frenzied memoir that reveals with kaleidoscopic intensity the terrifying world of manic depression. For years Andy Behrman hid his raging mania behind a larger-than-life personality. He sought a high wherever he could find one and changed jobs the way some people change outfits: filmmaker, PR agent, art dealer, stripper-whatever made him feel l ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published February 19th 2002)
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Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2011
I wrote a really insensitive review of this a couple years ago—you can see in the comments some people reacting to my bone-headed-ness with grace and sensitivity, just the opposite of the way I reacted to this book & its author. I feel shitty about it, so I'm redoing this review. Sorry if that's a bit revisionist-history of me.

I also want to say that I don't have any kind of psych background, and little context to understand manic personality disorder. To be completely honest, I think my lon
Liz Wright
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Sometimes, being a therapist, you forget what real true mania looks like because you don’t get to see it too often. Granted, you see some hypomania, but you don’t see the graphicness of true mania: $20,000 Barney’s shopping sprees, prostitution, 3 a.m. random travel to wherever, or lying, cheating, and stealing without fear of getting caught. Reading this book was like watching a horrible TV special on fast-forward (horrible because it made you feel uncomfortable for Behrman and also for the peo ...more
Jenny Schmenny
Aug 27, 2008 rated it liked it
A memoir by one of those 80's yuppie schmucks. This one is afflicted with manic depression, emphasis on the manic part, so the more interesting parts of the book deal with his crazy, obsessive, reckless, scamming, over-sexed, money-burning frenzies.

Oh, and he was involved in a major international art fraud case.

I didn't like him, his writing style, or aspects of the book, but it was still interesting, and it reminded me of some of my manic friends, except on a grander, more screwed up scale.

I c
Nathan Daniels
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
One of my absolute favorite books. Fast-paced and highly entertaining. I read it for the second time this year.
Michael Fischer
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Electroboy" is one of the better Bipolar memoirs I've read. I'd rank it up there with Marya Hornbacher's "Madness." I love the prose's frenetic pace that accurately captures mania: the racing/crowded thoughts, the embers inside your overstimulated brain, the compulsiveness and impulsiveness, the agitation, sleeplessness, etc. Behrman trusts readers to pick up on the style's expression of theme; as another reviewer wrote, Behrman "shows" mania. If you want mere information, try Google or a broch ...more
This is a weird book. It claims to be a memoir about living with manic depression/mania, but it's not very memoir-like at all, and the day-to-day life described doesn't sound a whole lot like bipolar depression either.

The weirdest thing is the way it's written. Even though the guy is doing some really high-stakes and sometimes outrageous stuff and staying up for days at a time, the events are told in a sort of monotone, and the excitement of what's going on isn't really captured at all. It's so
Karen Tyrrell
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania by Andy Behrman hooked me in from the very start with his childhood obsessions, his manic episodes and shocking behaviour. One minute I was cringing, the next totally engaged with his art forging escapades and electro-shock therapy. Always emphathising with Andy Behrman the person, praying that he would somehow Recover and lead a normal life.
Electroboy, the MOVIE comes out soon.
Apr 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
Omg. This was a total piece of garbage. I am so sick and tired of memoirs that have no depth! This was just a recounting of his "awesome times" and how much money he made and how he barely even was punished for art fraud. Oh, and he had electroshock therapy. He kinda threw that in there as a sidenote. AWFUL!
Amy Krichman Slutzky
May 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I get it, a bipolar memoir is bound to be a little difficult to follow. I'm sure it was no accident that the more the author understand and successfully treated his mental illness, the more the narrative became simplier, easier to follow. It is an accurate depiction of bipolar and how difficult some cases are to manage and medicate.
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I forgot about this one, red it years ago. But on my quest to find a new "crazy" book, I remembered this little gem! I thoroughly enjoyed it, perhaps because of my own identification with a lot of it... I think you'd have to really WANT to read about mental illness (and how entertaining it is) to enjoy it...
May 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mental
Andy Behrman hasn't quite written a memoir of bipolar disorder as much as a retelling (almost a reliving) of his dissipated life. He has the excuse of a serious mental disorder to lessen his culpability or even assuage his conscience. But I got the feeling culpability or conscience weren't necessarily things of importance to him, regardless of mental health.

In the end, Behrman's story didn't justify itself--at least as far as my expectations. It's like a modern American Gigolo with a strange de
Matthew Stefan
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Psychology Majors
Actually, it is 3.5 stars... Let me start by saying I rarely read non fiction, let alone memoirs. This genre tends to not appeal to me, since nonfiction can be very dry and hard to read. However, this is not the case with Electroboy. At times while reading this, I had to remind myself that these events had really happened to a real person. Writing some of these events had to be extremely tough, and the struggles with his illness had to be hard to offer up to the public in his novel. The novel wa ...more
Haylee Huntsinger
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
18 He talks about Middletown which was pretty cool because I was just reading Hillbilly Elegy the day before!

This book was hard for me to read as I also have manic depression. Certain parts made me absolutely cringe. I also had a hard time following along with a choppy dialogue. Still I'm glad I read it.
Feb 18, 2013 added it
I can't rate this book because it triggered so many things in me. It reminded me of when I was first diagnosed bipolar and support groups told me I wasn't bipolar enough even though the docs and psychiatrists that saw me were 100% in agreement. There are people with bipolar disorder who hate mania and will do just about anything to avoid it. I'm one of those people. I can't really rate it fairly because it's hard for me to read and I'm definitely not the audience it was written for.

The other thi
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is great. Andy really did a great job structuring his novel. He gets the right amount and type of details in at the right time. You follow both the progression of his disease, but also the progression of the major points in his life--all dictated by his disease. It's a disease I share, so this book definitely has an extra appeal to me and other sufferers of mental illness. I think this is a great novel for friends and family of people with bipolar disorder to read. It's a well paced, and we ...more
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Andy Behrman brilliantly captures the mania part of his bipolar life. There's not much in the way of story when it comes to the depression part, but Andy points out frequently that he actively sought ways to stay manic (sex, drugs, shopping, more drugs, more sex, travel, more shopping....) And, in fact, at times his tale s exhausting-- he jumps right from one exploit to the next. One minute he's making a film, the next selling art in Japan. He leaves big holes in his "timeline," which normally w ...more
Sep 17, 2014 added it
Recommended to Tlingit by: Julie D.
This started out reading like a non-homicidal American Psycho and I enjoyed it. Then it got real and watching Behrman trip, fumble, sprawl and crawl became a bit painful. I understand why other readers were disgusted with the author but the reality is that Mental Illness strikes you no matter who you are, what you do, what you were born into or how you go about living your life. I have friends with Bipolar Disorder who have luck that any gambler would pay their life for. Not all people with Ment ...more
Tammy Wooding
Jul 17, 2016 marked it as books-i-have

Electroboy is an emotionally frenzied memoir that reveals with kaleidoscopic intensity the terrifying world of manic depression. For years Andy Behrman hid his raging mania behind a larger-than-life personality. He sought a high wherever he could find one and changed jobs the way some people change outfits: filmmaker, PR agent, art dealer, stripper-whatever made him feel like a cartoon character, invincible and bright. Misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and psychotherapists for years, his condition e

Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've heard about this memoir for years, and finally read it. I like to read memoirs of people with mental illnesses. It was interesting enough to get through and it had many colorful moments. But as I started reading it, I realized something: It seems like all of the people with mental illnesses who write memoirs always come from very privileged backgrounds. Essentially, they are rich kids who go to ivy league colleges. I've never read a memoir of a person with mental illness who grew up poor. I ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Electro Boy Review
By Mikel K

It’s called, “Electro Boy, a memoir of mania”, and a wild manic roller coaster of a book it is once the author leaves home and gets out on his own and becomes a drug ingesting sex fiend selling art that is not his to sell. Having fucked my life up quite a bit as a dual diagnosed bipolar alcoholic who can’t stay off a pot pipe if there is pot around, I found myself ewwwing and awinng at Andy’s adventures and the amount of medication that they finally put him on, and th
Louise Chambers
Dec 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bipolars and anyone wishing to know more about the illness
Recommended to Louise by: A Fellow Bipolar
Behrman is an intelligent, extroverted, manic-depressive who allows his illness to lead him to commit art fraud and forgery. The prosecution and imprisonment for the crime leads him to finally confront the illness and find a new way to be himself but without the destructive aspects of the illness.

This is a much easier read than Madness: A Bipolar Life, by Marya Hornbecker, because Behrman's troubles are more along the lines of drug abuse and sex addiction which leads to prostitution, while Horn
Badly Drawn Girl
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it

Mania is exhausting for all involved, even if you are just reading about it. This book wiped me out totally. It's a great book for truly showing what life can be like for someone who is battling maniac depression.

I can't say I loved reading it, or that it was enjoyable. But I also don't think that's the point. If you know anyone who is dealing with this diagnosis, or suspect someone that you love may have some maniac traits, this book will help you walk in that person's shoes.

I really apprecia
Juli Kinrich
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm generally not a fan of paragraphs that run on for a page or more, but in Behrman's case, it makes sense, serving to underscore this masterful account of his maniacal, overcharged life--both the internal one that had him hallucinating tattoos erupting on his skin and the external one that sent him jetting around the globe, fistfuls of cash in hand. powerful, stunning memoir. Behrman is jaw-droppingly brutal in his self-exposure. It takes real guts to hang your sins and shortcomings out on the ...more
Nov 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who is curious what mania can become if you don't have a conscience
Recommended to Ryan by: I found it online
This book is what you get when you reduce bipolar disorder to pure shock entertainment value and little more. I've talked to Andy by phone, and I believe that he means well, but you have to question the motives of someone who is willing to sell his advice to people in need for literally hundreds of dollars an hour with almost no mental health credential. Andy is a gifted writer, and an even more skilled promotor, but this book left me wondering what might have been had he written a narrative aim ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A whirlwind of a book detailing Andy Behrman's life in NYC in the nineties and his attempt to come to terms with and learn to live with his manic-depression.

Not what I was expecting but the details of ECT were interesting to say the least. It does bring home beautifully how 'useful' manic episode can be to some people and how they can learn to use them to their advantage, but also how put of control the whole thing can get.

More of a memoir of life in NYC than a memoir of manic-depression really.
Gina C.
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
His childhood touched my heart as it mirrors my own. It's as if I've told him my secrets and he's written them I this book. It pains me to see such an exceptionally bright individual become consumed by sex and drug addiction. As someone who's bipolar and cognoscente of my weaknesses, I see some of his in me. They are largely dormant but still existent when I'm manic. By comparison, I must admit to being a coward in comparison to Andy - I could never strip myself bare so publicly and for this we ...more
David Koblos
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mind-spirit
Great book! Grants you a direct view into the mind of a manic depressive. Most interestingly, he doesn't even realize that something is not quite right with him, until the very end of the book. Meanwhile his supposedly "all-too-normal" story takes you on a roller-coaster ride involving international art forgery, side gigs as a stripper, being the best dressed student on his campus, all related in a funny, exciting, and breathtaking way.
Kristine Mckenna
Jun 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting look at bi-polar disorder, which I didn't know much about. I assume the author's behavior was so out of control due to this illness, but I had a hard time relating to his choices. I don't think his illness completely explains his self indulgence and he was in PR and honestly I feel it, the way the book is written feels like it's been crafted a bit for a marketing effort. In the end though, it's pretty clear, Andy had a hard time and I wish him insight and wellness.
Electroshock Therapy has been shrouded in intense controversy since its first appearance and use in the 1930's. Andy Behrman describes his life as a manic-depressive and the struggles that accompany such a diagnosis. Ultimately, he receives more Electroshock Therapy than anyone could deceive themselves into believing is healthy. That he is still alive and healthy is nothing less than shocking (no pun intended).
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
For the last several years, I have primarily only read memoirs, sans ones by my favorite authors or ones I found a million years ago and loved. This is a powerful and engaging memoir of a man in the throes of true manic depression (not that with which too many people claim to be afflicted because they have ups and downs) and his journey for potential relief. As a last resort, he opts for electroshock therapy (set: late 1980s and early-mid 1990s).
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For years Andy hid his raging mania under a larger-than-life personality. He sought a high wherever he could find one, and changed jobs as some people change outfits -- filmmaker, art dealer, hustler; whatever made him feel like a cartoon character, invincible and bright. Electroboy is about living life at breakneck speed. Andy hopped on flights from New York to Tokyo and Paris at a moment's notic ...more
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“Bipolar disorder is about buying a dozen bottles of Heinz ketchup and all eight bottles of Windex in stock at the Food Emporium on Broadway at 4:00 a.m., flying from Zurich to the Bahamas and back to Zurich in three days to balance the hot and cold weather (my sweet and sour theory of bipolar disorder), carrying $20,000 in $100 bills in your shoes into the country on your way back from Tokyo, and picking out the person sitting six seats away at the bar to have sex with only because he or she happens to be sitting there. It's about blips and burps of madness, moments of absolute delusion, bliss, and irrational and dangerous choices made in order to heighten pleasure and excitement and to ensure a sense of control. The symptoms of bipolar disorder come in different strengths and sizes. Most days I need to be as manic as possible to come as close as I can to destruction, to get a real good high -- a $25,000 shopping spree, a four-day drug binge, or a trip around the world.” 21 likes
“Like Sylvia Plath, Natalie Jeanne Champagne invites you so close to the pain and agony of her life of mental illness and addiction, which leaves you gasping from shock and laughing moments later: this is both the beauty and unique nature of her storytelling. With brilliance and courage, the author's brave and candid chronicle travels where no other memoir about mental illness and addiction has gone before. The Third Sunrise is an incredible triumph and Natalie Jeanne Champagne is without a doubt the most important new voice in this genre.” 9 likes
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