The other Dr. Gilmer Two men, a murder, and an unlikely fight for justice

Benjamin Gilmer

Book - 2022

"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. When family physician Dr. Benjamin Gilmer began working at the Cane Creek clinic in rural North Carolina, he was following in the footsteps of a man with the same last name. His predecessor, Dr. Vince Gilmer, was belov...ed by his patients and community--right up until the shocking moment when he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular day of work after the murder. He'd been in prison for nearly a decade by the time Benjamin arrived, but Vince's patients would still tell Benjamin they couldn't believe the other Dr. Gilmer was capable of such violence. The more Benjamin looked into Vince's case, the more he knew that something was wrong. Vince knew, too. He complained from the time he was arrested of his 'SSRI brain,' referring to withdrawal from his anti-depressant medication. When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who was obviously fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering off into nonsensical tangents. Enlisting This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to get Vince the help he needed. But time and again, the pair would come up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates--despite an estimated one third of them suffering from an untreated mental illness. In The Other Dr. Gilmer, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer tells of how a caring man was overcome by a perfect storm of rare health conditions, leading to an unimaginable crime. Rather than get treatment, Vince Gilmer was sentenced to life in prison--a life made all the worse by his untrustworthy brain and prison and government officials who dismissed his situation. A large percentage of imprisoned Americans are suffering from mental illness when they commit their crimes and continue to suffer, untreated, in prison. In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer argues that some crimes need to be healed rather than punished"--

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2nd Floor New Shelf 364.1523/Gilmer (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Subjects
Published
New York : Ballantine Books [2022]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
292 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 289-292).
ISBN
9780593355169
0593355164
Main Author
Benjamin Gilmer (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Two family doctors, unrelated in spite of having the same last name, establish medical practices in the same North Carolina rural community. In 2004, an increasingly impulsive Dr. Vince Gilmer strangles his mentally ill 60-year-old father and cuts off all his fingers. He's sentenced to life in prison without parole. Years later, Benjamin Gilmer is hired to work in the same clinic Vince did. This weird intersection of their lives generates consternation and challenges for Benjamin, but also compassion. After visiting Vince in prison, Benjamin embarks on a quest to elucidate Vince's motive for patricide and possibly procure justice for him. Is Vince a troubled soul who did a terrible deed? Or a calculating manipulator? Did discontinuing his SSRI medication trigger violent behavior? Might he have an undiagnosed genetic illness that explains his moral and physical decline? Antitheses abound—mercy versus punishment, intuition versus preconceptions, coincidence versus destiny—in this unsettling combination of murder mystery, medical detective tale, and plea for criminal-justice reform. With more than one-third of prison inmates suffering from severe mental illness, greater awareness and better treatment would reduce that number. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Two family doctors, unrelated in spite of having the same last name, establish medical practices in the same North Carolina rural community. In 2004, an increasingly impulsive Dr. Vince Gilmer strangles his mentally ill 60-year-old father and cuts off all his fingers. He's sentenced to life in prison without parole. Years later, Benjamin Gilmer is hired to work in the same clinic Vince did. This weird intersection of their lives generates consternation and challenges for Benjamin, but also compassion. After visiting Vince in prison, Benjamin embarks on a quest to elucidate Vince's motive for patricide and possibly procure justice for him. Is Vince a troubled soul who did a terrible deed? Or a calculating manipulator? Did discontinuing his SSRI medication trigger violent behavior? Might he have an undiagnosed genetic illness that explains his moral and physical decline? Antitheses abound—mercy versus punishment, intuition versus preconceptions, coincidence versus destiny—in this unsettling combination of murder mystery, medical detective tale, and plea for criminal-justice reform. With more than one-third of prison inmates suffering from severe mental illness, greater awareness and better treatment would reduce that number. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

When family physician Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic, he was shocked to discover that his predecessor—who coincidentally had the same last name—got up one morning and strangled his father before coming to work. Visiting the "other Dr. Gilmer" in prison, the author immediately recognized a case of untreated mental illness (he was ultimately diagnosed with Huntington's disease), launching often frustrated efforts to secure his colleague the help he needed. Gilmer here expands his story to discuss the high incidence of mental illness in the U.S. prison population and to argue for better treatment—healing rather than punishment. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

When family physician Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic, he was shocked to discover that his predecessor—who coincidentally had the same last name—got up one morning and strangled his father before coming to work. Visiting the "other Dr. Gilmer" in prison, the author immediately recognized a case of untreated mental illness (he was ultimately diagnosed with Huntington's disease), launching often frustrated efforts to secure his colleague the help he needed. Gilmer here expands his story to discuss the high incidence of mental illness in the U.S. prison population and to argue for better treatment—healing rather than punishment. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Family physician Gilmer's gripping debut starts out as a murder tale, morphs into a medical mystery, and lands as a heartbreaking account of how poorly the American prison system treats the mentally ill. When the author joined a rural North Carolina clinic, he became fascinated with the clinic's founder, Vince Gilmer—no relation—who was in prison for murdering his mentally ill father in 2004. At first, after hearing an unfounded rumor that the other Gilmer was being released, he was fearful the man would come after him for taking his practice, but he soon set out to reconcile the murderer with the person the clinic's patients revered. Working with a radio journalist, the author discovered Gilmer had a number of medical problems, including antidepressant withdrawal and head trauma from a car accident, that could have made him violent enough to kill his father. In the process, the two Gilmers became friends, and after the radio journalist aired a story about the other Gilmer languishing in prison with various neurological disorders, the author fought to have him released on a clemency plea while becoming an advocate for prison reform for the mentally ill. (The other Gilmer remains in prison.) The author does a fine job humanizing everyone involved. This painful look at a terrible social injustice deserves a wide audience. Agent: Lara Love Hardin, Idea Architects. (Mar.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"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 Lifeepisodes of all time. When family physician Dr. Benjamin Gilmer began working at the Cane Creek clinic in rural North Carolina, he was following in the footsteps of a man with the same last name. His predecessor, Dr. Vince Gilmer, was beloved by his patients and community--right up until the shocking moment when he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular day of work after the murder. He'd been in prison for nearly a decade by the time Benjamin arrived, but Vince's patients would still tell Benjamin they couldn't believe the other Dr. Gilmer was capable of such violence. The more Benjamin looked into Vince's case, the more he knew that something was wrong. Vince knew, too. He complained from the time he was arrested of his "SSRI brain," referring to withdrawal from his anti-depressant medication. When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who was obviously fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering off into nonsensical tangents. Enlisting This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to get Vince the help he needed. But time and again, the pair would come up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates--despite an estimated one third of them suffering from an untreated mental illness. In The Other Dr. Gilmer, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer tells of how a caring man was overcome by a perfect storm of rare health conditions, leading to an unimaginable crime. Rather than get treatment, Vince Gilmer was sentenced to life in prison--a life made all the worse by his untrustworthy brain and prison and government officials who dismissed his situation. A large percentage of imprisoned Americans are suffering from mental illness when they commit their crimes and continue to suffer, untreated, in prison. In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer argues that some crimes need to be healed rather than punished"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A rural physician examines the case of his predecessor, who strangled his father, and, discovering he is plagued by mental illness, enlists a This American Life journalist to get him the help he needs, pitting them against a prison system that cares little about the mental health of its inmates.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A “mesmerizing” (The New York Times Book Review) true story about a shocking crime and a mysterious illness that will forever change your notions of how we punish and how we heal—an expansion on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time“A remarkable medical detective story–cum–memoir, grippingly told . . . I was drawn in by every part of it.”—Atul Gawande, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Being MortalFresh out of medical residency, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic only to find that its previous doctor shared his last name. Dr. Vince Gilmer was loved and respected by the community—right up until he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular week of work. Vince’s eventual arrest for murder shocked his patients. How could their beloved doctor be capable of such violence? The deeper Benjamin looked into Vince’s case, the more he became obsessed with discovering what pushed a good man toward darkness.  When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who appeared to be fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering into nonsensical tangents. Sentenced to life in prison, Vince had been branded a cold-blooded killer and a “malingerer”—a person who fakes an illness. But it was obvious to Benjamin that Vince needed help. Alongside This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to understand what had happened to his predecessor. Time and again, the pair came up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates—despite more than a third of them suffering from mental illness. The Other Dr. Gilmer takes readers on a riveting and heart-wrenching journey through our shared human fallibility, made worse by a prison system that is failing our most vulnerable citizens. With deep compassion and an even deeper sense of justice, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer delves into the mystery of what could make a caring doctor commit a brutal murder. And in the process, his powerful story asks us to answer a profound question: In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, what would it look like if we prioritized healing rather than punishment?