Keeping control

Jane Rogers

  • Ivan: Living with Parkinson’s Disease by Ivan Vaughan and Jonathan Miller
    Macmillan, 203 pp, £9.95, November 1986, ISBN 0 333 42454 9

This is not a moving account of how bravely and cleverly Ivan Vaughan copes with a debilitating disease: its scope is far wider, and its tone more varied, and more demanding of the reader, than that would suggest. Part of it is an adventure story about someone in extraordinary physical circumstances, for whom execution of the most mundane acts (such as putting on spectacles, opening a letter) attains a level of cliff-hanging suspense. Part of it is a mass of theories about the nature of the disease, the functioning of the brain and nervous system, stress and ways of dealing with it, drugs and attitudes to their use. The theories, in which the author clearly delights, all spring from specific physical experiences, and so living with Parkinson’s disease, in Ivan Vaughan’s book, becomes a fascinating, even thrilling experience.

You are not logged in