A rural physician learns that a former doctor at his clinic committed a shocking crime, leading him to uncover an undiagnosed mental health crisis in our broken prison system–a powerful true story expanding on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time.
This is a true-crime as well as a biography. Dr.Benjamin Gilmer became a doctor later in life than most. And he has accepted a job at a clinic in rural North Carolina. Cane Creek Clinic serves an area of the poorest of the poor. He also is replacing another doctor who just happens to have had the same surname. Only this Dr. Gilmer is in prison for murdering his own father.
Benjamin is somewhat obsessed with the story and how and why a doctor would suddenly do something so outside of his beliefs. Is he mentally ill? Was there past abuse? As he listens to the staff and patients tell him about the former doctor, Benjamin becomes convinced that Dr. Gilmer had been going through withdrawals from an anti-depressant. An SSRI. Dr. Gilmer himself had complained that his brain wasn’t working right, but still they sent him to prison.
Benjamin meets This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig and together they work relentlessly to get the man out of prison. But the prison system isn’t in the business of caring about your mental status. So they are just beating their heads against a wall of politics and ignorance. This country obviously needs reform in our mental health system and our prison system.
This was a story that I did know about. And I admire the good doctor for giving it his all for so long. One thing I did not understand was how he earned a living while doing all of this work. It didn’t seem as if he was at work a lot and his small family was barely hanging on financially. I wish that had been addressed.
NetGalley/ March 1st, 2022 by Ballantine Books