Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me on and off General Hospital

Morrow. Apr. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9780062973375. $27.99. TV
At 22, Benard was in a psychiatric ward coping with delusions, hallucinations, and uncontrolled aggression, but just two years later, he made his soap opera debut on All My Children. In this debut memoir, coauthored by screenwriter Black, the actor revisits his troubled childhood, where youthful indiscretions and physical abuse from his father escalated as his mental illness went untreated, leading to his institutionalization. As the subtitle suggests, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and receiving treatment, coupled with support from friends and family, transformed his life. Since then he’s portrayed Desi Arnaz and John Gotti, though he’s best known as General Hospital’s Sonny Corinthos, a role he’s played for more than 25 years. Despite his on-screen success, Benard exhibits more pride in his work as a spokesperson for bipolar awareness. His depiction of the disorder is unflinching—an incident where he threatened to kill his then-pregnant wife, Paula, is especially harrowing. Benard’s struggles with mental illness have been incorporated into the show, and he reveals how some of his favorite story lines have also been the most triggering.
VERDICT Benard’s honest work is realistic yet inspiring. Soap opera fans will relish the behind-the-scenes insight, but overall this will resonate with anyone attempting to overcome life’s hurdles. [See Prepub Alert, 9/30/19.]

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