Official Review: Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today

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Official Review: Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today

Post by chytach18- » 15 Nov 2015, 06:13

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today" by Adrian Kenton.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Adrian Kenton opens his autobiographical book with a rather philosophical musing: “Is there anything good about mental illness? We’re told not. It’s all negative and negative is bad”. Negative kills. It nearly killed him one day, when he stood in the bathroom with a razor in his hand. But there was something positive (or weird, as he called it) that crossed his mind. Before committing suicide, he thought he could eat a “Jammie-dodger biscuit”. He ate four and by the time he was munching on the fourth biscuit, he knew that his mission was not only to live, but also campaign for people who, like him, were on the edge between life and death. He gathered his thoughts, his arguments and his accusations in the book Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today.

Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today is a very controversial but brutally honest book written on the themes of mental illness, depression, suicide, mental health care and politics. It is mainly about politics and how the people in power address the issues related with mental health. He focuses on the UK government`s approach towards the mental health care because “we rightly look for it [the government] for protection”. Do we have it? Adrian Kenton thinks no, and I agree with his many arguments. My only criticism of his attack on the government is that he had targeted the government, which is no longer in power. It had created a sense of déjà vu as I was reading the book, and that had somehow decreased the level of my irritation towards the “Mansion of Uncommon” and the “Palace of Lordy-Lords” (the House of Common and the House of Lords). Nevertheless, as I mentioned above, Adrian Kenton had his point when he attacked the politicians. They will survive. Ordinary people, who suffer from the lack of the government protection, might not.

Kenton also confronts the whole society with its negative social attitude towards people with mental health difficulties. The attitude, he argues, is created by social media in the UK and across the world. If you are weak, you have no place in our strong society. He blames capitalism as the system that promotes that negative social attitude. Again, I agree with many of his arguments, but the problem is there is no better society than capitalist democracy in the world. It has not been created yet.

The book is controversial, angry and sometimes a little chaotic, but eventually I liked it. I liked the language Kenton used throughout the book. I have to warn the potential readers that Kenton often employs the words that are unlikely to be found in a respectable dictionary. But his language is suitable for his arguments. And I have to say that Adrian Kenton is a brilliant writer. His figurative language is outstanding. Above I had mentioned the “Mansion of Uncommon” and the “Palace of Lordy-Lords”. But there were many more metaphors and similes I found in the book that had made me laugh first, then think and reflect on them. To demonstrate what I mean, I will give you the chance to hear the author himself. Here is a direct quote from his book: “We know the reality is layered. The apparent reality that we face every day; a consciousness of the reality behind, or around, how everyday events turn out; realities we cannot possibly know and our personal and internal reality. For the more honest, it's spaghetti rather than lasagne. But we prefer lasagne generally. Spaghetti, too messy.” I am still not sure to whom I belong – to spaghetti or to lasagne.

Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today is not an easy or entertaining reading. I can only recommend it to the serious readers who do not mind some vicious language when they want to hear about our reality. At first, I didn’t like the book. Then I accepted it. Finally, I felt privileged to having read it. I will give Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today four out of four stars. But bear in mind – this book is not for everybody.

******
Four Jammy Biscuits Saved My Life Today
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Post by gali » 26 Nov 2015, 10:42

Great review! I don't think the book is for me though. 8)
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by PashaRu » 26 Nov 2015, 11:27

Excellent review! Thanks for a balanced, thorough discussion of the book.
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Post by Adrian Kenton » 26 Nov 2015, 12:56

Some contextual points.
1 - the point of the book is NOT that "negative kills" - the point is to challenge traditional concepts of what we regard as 'negative' or 'positive;' such as a) our use of vocabulary and b) the foundation on which common perspectives, cliches and stigmas surrounding mental health are based

2 - the book does not focus on politics but all aspects of social construct and what we regard as institutions and building blocks of society that many suddenly find themselves placed on the outside of, when they suffer mental struggles.

3 - it is not an attack on no longer existing governments but to contextualise the daily issues that compounded the author's circumstances and influences through the illness and regime changes that have contributed to the current state of Mental health care and perspectives since. MH regimes do not miraculously change with successive governments.

4 - it is the reviewer's personal perspective that "there is no better society than a capitalist democracy, in the world." this is not the author's limited view. but the book challenges fundamentally what this "democracy" amounts to in reality.

5 - All people suffer mental issues of various kinds and degrees. in the UK, all people will be subject to it's mental health, social stigmas, political and economic climate. this is applicable by comparison with other countries to flag up the danger of being hoodwinked by some with devious if not criminal pursuits behind the facade of respectability and 'responsibility of care." yes the book is challenging and unnerving. a wake-up call. but just who is this book not for exactly? and who decides?

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Post by bookowlie » 26 Nov 2015, 19:30

Nice, insightful review. I like that you gave honest and thoughtful opinions of controversial subject matter. Well done.
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Post by chytach18- » 27 Nov 2015, 09:26

gali wrote:Great review! I don't think the book is for me though. 8)
Thank you, gali. It is a difficult book and although I liked it, it took a considerable time for me to finish reading it.

-- 27 Nov 2015, 09:27 --
PashaRu wrote:Excellent review! Thanks for a balanced, thorough discussion of the book.
Thank you, PashaRu.

-- 27 Nov 2015, 09:31 --
Adrian Kenton wrote:Some contextual points.
1 - the point of the book is NOT that "negative kills" - the point is to challenge traditional concepts of what we regard as 'negative' or 'positive;' such as a) our use of vocabulary and b) the foundation on which common perspectives, cliches and stigmas surrounding mental health are based

2 - the book does not focus on politics but all aspects of social construct and what we regard as institutions and building blocks of society that many suddenly find themselves placed on the outside of, when they suffer mental struggles.

3 - it is not an attack on no longer existing governments but to contextualise the daily issues that compounded the author's circumstances and influences through the illness and regime changes that have contributed to the current state of Mental health care and perspectives since. MH regimes do not miraculously change with successive governments.

4 - it is the reviewer's personal perspective that "there is no better society than a capitalist democracy, in the world." this is not the author's limited view. but the book challenges fundamentally what this "democracy" amounts to in reality.

5 - All people suffer mental issues of various kinds and degrees. in the UK, all people will be subject to it's mental health, social stigmas, political and economic climate. this is applicable by comparison with other countries to flag up the danger of being hoodwinked by some with devious if not criminal pursuits behind the facade of respectability and 'responsibility of care." yes the book is challenging and unnerving. a wake-up call. but just who is this book not for exactly? and who decides?
Thank you, Adrian, for writing this book. I am sorry if my understanding of it differ somehow from your intentions. But I think I understand a lot and share many of your views (I live in the UK). John Fowles once said that the reader has a right to interpret the book as he or she wants to. I took a liberty to follow his advice. Anyway, I would be delighted to read the second volume.

-- 27 Nov 2015, 09:31 --
bookowlie wrote:Nice, insightful review. I like that you gave honest and thoughtful opinions of controversial subject matter. Well done.
Thank you, bookowlie.

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Post by Adrian Kenton » 28 Nov 2015, 20:30

HI chytach18 - no i have no objections to your observations or opinions and i appreciate your trouble and sentiments, i just felt it necessary to clarify a few things. my sardonic humour and lateral constructs allow for people to interpret or mis-interpret as they see fit and i think you did a decent job of it in general. i am glad you brought out a lighter side amidst the heaviness of the subjects. that is not wasted on me. but the subject matter gives so much information of real worth to people who are left generally in the dark. life-saving potentially. I don't believe in putting everything on a plate or telling a reader what to think. it's obvious you gave it more than surface consideration. the second volume is more expressive as it deals with my inner evolution. (3 x the size) more personal and challenging on a psychological level. many thanks for your views. i'd be confident to trust your impartial evaluations again, particularly considering how different the books are in content and seeing as the reader needs the first book to get the humour and contextualise the second no-holds-barred b-side. the first was pretty tame and reasonable in comparison and both are needed for the reader to come to their own over-all judgments.

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Post by chytach18- » 29 Nov 2015, 06:06

Thank you very much, Adrian, for trusting me as a reader. I will be very happy to read the second volume. If I can`t read it from this site for the official review, I can do it privately (I think. I need to verify it with Scott). However, if I found the subject is too upsetting for me, I would tell you. I teach very young children with profound additional needs. So the subject is not foreign to me, but sometimes it is too much. As you had mentioned in your book, the quality of mental health care depends on people who are delivering it.

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Post by Adrian Kenton » 29 Nov 2015, 11:25

this book obviously deals with trauma, post-traumatic stress, bipolar and depressive illness and contributing destructive issues. it's remarkable the difference between this sector and the sector of MH dealing with brain related injury or conditions such as ALzheimer's, Parkinson's, AUtism, Cerebral Palsy, Learning Difficulties, Dementia etc. the support and treatment approaches in that sector are extremely advanced and pro-active, person-centred without stigma. more sympathetic you might even say. no stigma, no scape-goating of 'clients.' even this is under threat and abuses go on, but those conditions, though just as harsh, are less global, more visible and hence less frightening as they do not affect everyone. you only have to read the account about David in chapter 9 to realise where the lines get muddied. i suppose that's why the issues i deal with are more frightening. but the point is, the sector dealing with it prefers to misguide everyone into thinking it depends upon elitist approaches by people who have little or no experience of the illness or trauma themselves. there is more hope out there for sufferers than they are led to believe but not delivered by services who waste masses of money on flip-chart discussions and powerpoint presentations. this is what is entirely irresponsible of service-providers who mostly by-pass the sufferer's needs and reduce them in the way they were during Dickensian times. Dickens was a radical in his day and not much has changed.

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Post by j p gilbert » 29 Nov 2015, 12:57

Adrian Kenton wrote:this book obviously deals with trauma, post-traumatic stress, bipolar and depressive illness and contributing destructive issues. it's remarkable the difference between this sector and the sector of MH dealing with brain related injury or conditions such as ALzheimer's, Parkinson's, AUtism, Cerebral Palsy, Learning Difficulties, Dementia etc. the support and treatment approaches in that sector are extremely advanced and pro-active, person-centred without stigma. more sympathetic you might even say. no stigma, no scape-goating of 'clients.' even this is under threat and abuses go on, but those conditions, though just as harsh, are less global, more visible and hence less frightening as they do not affect everyone. you only have to read the account about David in chapter 9 to realise where the lines get muddied. i suppose that's why the issues i deal with are more frightening. but the point is, the sector dealing with it prefers to misguide everyone into thinking it depends upon elitist approaches by people who have little or no experience of the illness or trauma themselves. there is more hope out there for sufferers than they are led to believe but not delivered by services who waste masses of money on flip-chart discussions and powerpoint presentations. this is what is entirely irresponsible of service-providers who mostly by-pass the sufferer's needs and reduce them in the way they were during Dickensian times. Dickens was a radical in his day and not much has changed.
I think this thread is a good example of the benefits which are achievable when an author interacts with the reviewer. It does, however, highlight the burden upon reviewers to fully understand the book and its message. To have an author comment on a review, shows the level of trust and a willingness to improve as readers and writers. Hopefully, this is a trend setter and there is more interaction like this to follow throughout this site.
Some say our future is written, mine must be in invisible ink.

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Post by Adrian Kenton » 30 Nov 2015, 05:28

thanks for your positiveness JP Gibert - of course any decent author agonises over numerous drafts to consider the best way to communicate something. it is an art. but these two volumes are an exercise in replicating some symptoms so that they are visible to the reader in either content or style to help expand on people's everyday understanding. also from the outset - one of the things i promote is parity between those experiencing the illness and those treating/supporting them. it is no exaggeration to say as soon as people hear you have the slightest mental health issue -(depression the most common 1in4 of UK population prior to the credit crunch) - a person IMMEDIATELY loses some of their rights, even in people's assumptions of them. i suggest a re-evaluation of how IMPERFECT communication should not be dismissed but given just as serious consideration as someone who is eloquent or assertive. dismissal of this common language is endemic and results in gross infringements of human rights. why? simply because people and authorities can get away with it without recourse. it is the sufferer that is ill, not them. hence the language and methods used to replicate this, making it more challenging than simply stating facts. most is stated logically but relying on logic does not always convey situations that challenge or defy logic. thus creating the common blockades to engagement. sorry folks - i do not intend to explain the whole book. it is an encounter that each person should assess for themselves. i don'y believe in sensationalism, but yes the book should disturb us all as it is about endemic common abuse that needs to stop (hence the responsibility of the MH industry) before the next person encounters it and that could be anyone.

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Post by chytach18- » 30 Nov 2015, 10:11

I do agree that "the book should disturb us all as it is about endemic common abuse that needs to stop (hence the responsibility of the MH industry) before the next person encounters it and that could be anyone." What upsets me is that I doubt it very much that the people who have power will read your book, Adrian. They are too busy. They are responsible for the whole industry/NHS/country, and therefore "the next person" might and possibly would slip through the net. Unfortunately, the problem is global.

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Post by kimmyschemy06 » 04 Dec 2015, 05:45

I'm not much into reading about politics but mental illness is a topic of interest to me. Great review! Congratulations to Adrian Kenton for such a wonderful book!

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Post by chytach18- » 05 Dec 2015, 07:43

Thank you.

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Post by Tanaya » 05 Dec 2015, 15:34

Like others have stated, I don't think I'm interested in the political side of the book, particularly for the UK. But I'm always open to learning more and that'd be a subject I know very little about. Regardless, thanks for honestly sharing your views. This was certainly an interesting thread to read.

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