Ramone's Brother Slammed For Reprinting Psychiatric Evaluation27 December 2009
Mickey Leigh admits he wrestled with his conscience before reprinting his sibling's medical records from the psychiatric ward at New York's St. Vincent's hospital - but he knew he couldn't tell his brother's story in I Slept With Joey Ramone without revealing the extent of the I Wanna Be Well singer's mental issues.
In the memoir, he reprints his brother's diagnosis, which suggests Ramone "sees himself with low self-esteem, as a combination of being both dangerous and in danger". It goes on to reveal the future star experiences "great pain in the form of anxiety," with doctors adding, "Jeff (Joey Ramone's real name was Jeff Hyman) feels at the mercy of external and internal forces beyond his control, culminating in explosive behavior, accompanied by confused depression."
The diagnosis concludes with the summary the teen, who was to become Joey Ramone, suffers from "Schizophrenia, Paranoid type with minimal brain damage... It is strongly recommended that he be in intensive psychotherapy."
Leigh's late mother was the one who convinced him that going into details about his brother's evaluation was the right thing to do.
Leigh tells WENN, "My mom was the one who had to go to St. Vincent's to clear those records and she understood that it was important to have that in the book, even though I got a lot of flak for it.
"I knew nothing was gonna hurt my brother anymore. Also, I didn't think that I was really divulging anything that hadn't been expressed... The Ramones sang Gimme Shock Treatment and Teenage Lobotomy and I don't think anybody's going to go, 'Hey wow, these guys have got mental issues?'
"There's some people who are a little shocked and feel like I betrayed some privacy issue, but I needed to make Jeff real, and I had to be honest about what happened in his life.
"There are some fringe people who have given me flak - those people who fancied themselves as being closer to him than his real blood family. Some of these people have taken on the role of the protector."
But Leigh has been rewarded for his efforts by youngsters who have written to him detailing their own mental issues: "I've got a lot of letters from kids... one from a girl who's been diagnosed with 15 different mental illnesses and read this story and was so encouraged and inspired. She saw that Joey had similar diagnoses."
And Leigh's mother had the chance to read to memoir before she died in 2007: "My mom read the book and she was so proud of it... I believe Joey would have been proud of the book too."
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