1 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, written by RB Le’Deach, is a memoir of the author’s life with untreated bipolar disorder. It begins with his earliest memories as a child in the American Deep South and extends through his adolescence, his service in the United States Marine Corps, his marriages, and his lifelong battle with alcohol.
The author tells his life’s story through amusing anecdotes and quirky thoughts. He is up-front and honest about all aspects of his life and does not shy away from the darker side, like his brother’s relentless abuse and his early dependence on alcohol and sex. He frequently interrupts himself with what he calls “Side Thoughts”, abrupt changes of track only tangentially related to the story being told. I enjoyed these interludes, as they felt authentic to the experience of hearing an elder tell stories from the past, in that the storyteller’s mind often wanders and takes the listener along on its journey. Given the title, I was surprised to find that Le’Deach’s mental health challenges are not more prominently explored; while they are mentioned a few times, they are not the focus of the book.
Throughout the book, there are multiple instances of what is now known as “casual racism”, the kind of racist remark that is made thoughtlessly and without ill intention but which is nevertheless demeaning. There are also a few overtly racist slurs, some of which include serious profanity. I have no doubt that the author’s views are a result of his upbringing as a White American child in the Deep South during the 1960s-70s, and I know that many others of the author’s generation would feel – and possibly say – the same. Still, I found these comments distasteful and wish that they had been either omitted or altered. Telling a story, even a historical one, with racial slurs included is uncalled for in the 21st century.
Women, too, are presented in a demeaning fashion. An entire chapter is devoted to cataloguing almost every woman with whom Le’Deach has ever had sex, with no more than four or five sentences describing each one. Women are consistently objectified and are often reduced to nothing more than their appearance, annoying traits or habits, and willingness to sleep with Le’Deach. Even the author’s own sisters are discussed in this way; none of them have names, and so they are called only the “ugly sister” and the “pretty sisters”. There are also coarse terms for female genitalia throughout the book. I was honestly appalled by how Le’Deach chose to speak about the women in his life.
Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified would have earned a score of 2 out of 4 for its entertaining anecdotes from a long and varied life, though they are relayed in a way that may be objectionable to some readers. However, the book was riddled with grammatical errors for which a star absolutely must be deducted, yielding a final score of 1 out of 4. Readers sensitive to profanity, vulgarity, or blatant racial or sexist biases should avoid the book. On the whole, I feel that the book has a long way to go before it will be ready to wind up in the hands of the public.
P.D.N.O.S. Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
View: on Bookshelves