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Passing for Normal


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About the Author

Amy S. Wilensky is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University's M.F.A. writing program. A native of suburban Boston, she lives in New York City.


Growing up is difficult enough without the added stress of an unattractive and little-understood neurological condition that causes one to twitch, pick at one's skin, hoard rotten food or step six times on each stair and manhole cover one passes. No wonder Wilensky, who didn't realize she had Tourette's syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder until she was in college, tried so hard to pass for normal. A graduate of Columbia's M.F.A. writing program, she insightfully and intimately describes the symptoms that emerged during her early school years and soon dominated her life. These tics infuriated her father, who accused her of looking "crazy" and insisted she stop. Increasingly confused, fearing for her sanity and sometimes bullied by her classmates, Wilensky managed to negotiate her way through adolescence. But when, as a Vassar student, she was plagued by insistent compulsions to harm herself, she finally sought psychiatric help. Her diagnosis was both a relief and a challenge, for it forced her to confront her own ambivalence about otherness. "If the tics and rituals were as much a part of me as the mole on the back of my neck," she muses as she considers taking medication, "then eliminating them with a pop of a pill was an eradication of my very soul." Wilensky's emotional honesty and surprising humor make this memoir not only an informative account of diagnosis and treatment, but an exceptionally wise exploration of larger themes of difference and the need to belong. Agent, Amanda Urban, ICM. Author tour. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

This book concerns a frequently misunderstood psychological illness, Tourette's syndrome, which currently afflicts over 200,000 Americans. Contrary to popular belief, not all sufferers exhibit coprolalia (the involuntary utterance of offensive language); common symptoms consist of bizarre vocal and physical tics. Wilensky, a New York writer, has both Tourette's syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She describes, in intimate detail, how her life has been circumscribed by her debilitating condition. Transforming the reader into a confidante, she opens the reader's mind and heart to the plight of all Tourettic victims. Her tale is a testament to human courage, hope, and perseverance as well as a heartfelt search for personal identity that redefines the concept of "normalcy." Recommended for all public and academic libraries.ÄYan Toma & Jessica Wolff, Queens Borough P.L., Flushing, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"A harrowing and wryly humorous story of a woman's lifelong battle with tics and obsessions and her gradual acceptance of treatment."
--Village Voice

"Wilensky's emotional honesty and surprising humor make this memoir not only an informative account of diagnosis and treatment, but an exceptionally wise exploration of larger themes of difference and the need to belong."
--Publishers Weekly

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