Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

Andy Behrman


“Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” is a gripping and vividly detailed memoir that takes us deep into the whirlwind world of Andy Behrman, a man grappling with bipolar disorder. Published in the early 2000s, this book sheds light on the intense experiences of mania and depression, offering readers a firsthand look at the highs and lows of living with a mental health condition. Andy Behrman, the author and protagonist, doesn’t hold back as he shares his journey through rapid mood swings, extravagant spending sprees, and the quest for a diagnosis that could explain his extreme emotions and behaviors. As a genre, the book fits snugly into the memoir category but stands out due to its candid exploration of mental health, making it a beacon for those seeking to understand bipolar disorder and its impacts. Through “Electroboy,” Behrman not only offers a peek into his life but also contributes significantly to the conversation around mental health, breaking down stigma and opening up pathways for discussion and understanding. 📘💡

Plot Summary

“Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” by Andy Behrman chronicles the author’s tumultuous journey with bipolar disorder, marked by dizzying highs and crushing lows.

Exposition — Andy introduces us to his early life, hinting at the initial signs of his condition through his restlessness and eccentric behaviors. From his childhood in New Jersey to his college days, we see the seeds of mania taking root, although they are not immediately recognized as such.

Rising Action — After college, Andy’s life in New York City becomes a rollercoaster of grandiose projects, international travel, and lavish spending, all fueled by his undiagnosed bipolar disorder. His career in the art world and PR leads to risky behaviors, including drug use and involvement in illegal activities, as his mania escalates unchecked.

Climax — The climax of Andy’s story occurs as his world spirals out of control. His risky behaviors catch up with him, leading to legal issues and a devastating personal crisis. It’s at this point that his bipolar disorder becomes impossible to ignore, forcing him to confront his mental health head-on.

Falling Action — The falling action unfolds as Andy seeks treatment. He undergoes numerous hospitalizations and treatments, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), in his quest for stability. These experiences, while challenging, start to offer glimpses of hope and moments of clarity amidst the chaos of his condition.

Resolution — In the resolution, Andy reaches a level of understanding and acceptance of his bipolar disorder. He finds a treatment regimen that works for him, leading to a more stable and manageable life. Although he acknowledges the ongoing challenges of living with bipolar disorder, he also embraces the insights and depth of experience it has provided him, using his story to educate and support others.

Throughout “Electroboy,” Behrman’s journey is marked by intense personal and emotional upheavals, but ultimately, it’s a story of resilience, understanding, and the search for equilibrium in the face of a relentless mental health condition.

Character Analysis

“Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” is centered around Andy Behrman himself, with other characters playing roles that illuminate aspects of his life and condition. Here’s a closer look at the main characters:

  • Andy Behrman — The protagonist, whose life story forms the backbone of the memoir. Andy is dynamic, charismatic, and incredibly driven, yet these qualities are often amplified to a dangerous degree by his bipolar disorder. His journey from the euphoric highs of mania to the debilitating lows of depression provides a raw and unfiltered look at the realities of living with a mental health condition. Throughout the book, Andy evolves from being at the mercy of his condition to becoming an advocate for understanding and treating bipolar disorder.
  • Andy’s Family — Though not individually named or deeply detailed, Andy’s family serves as a backdrop to his story, offering glimpses into his support system and the challenges they face in understanding and coping with his condition. Their journey mirrors that of many families dealing with mental health issues, characterized by confusion, concern, and a desire to help even when the path forward is unclear.
  • Medical Professionals — Various psychiatrists, therapists, and medical experts appear throughout Andy’s narrative, reflecting the often frustrating and dehumanizing experiences patients can face in the healthcare system. These characters underscore the trial and error aspect of treating mental health conditions and the impact of medical professionals on patients’ lives.
  • Friends and Acquaintances — Andy’s interactions with a wide range of people, from the art world, PR industry, and beyond, highlight the impact of his bipolar disorder on his social and professional relationships. These characters often act as mirrors, reflecting Andy’s diverse states of mind and helping readers understand the external manifestations of his inner turmoil.

Character Analysis Summary

CharacterPersonality/TraitsMotivationsCharacter Development
Andy BehrmanDynamic, charismatic, impulsive, sensitiveTo find stability and understanding of his conditionEvolves from being controlled by his disorder to managing it
Andy’s FamilySupportive yet challenged by Andy’s conditionTo support and help Andy despite not fully understandingGrows in understanding and adapting to Andy’s needs
Medical ProfessionalsRange from empathetic to clinicalTo treat Andy’s bipolar disorder, with varying successIllustrate the spectrum of care and approaches in mental health
Friends and AcquaintancesDiverse, reflecting various aspects of Andy’s life and personalityVaried, often to connect with or support AndyHighlight the social dynamics and consequences of Andy’s behavior

Andy Behrman’s vivid character portrayal in “Electroboy” not only offers an inside look into the mind of someone living with bipolar disorder but also presents a nuanced view of the people and systems around him, contributing to a deeper understanding of mental health.

Themes and Symbols

“Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” is rich with themes and symbols that contribute to the depth and complexity of the narrative. Here are some of the major themes and symbols identified in the book:


  • The Stigma of Mental Illness — The memoir tackles the pervasive stigma associated with mental health conditions, particularly bipolar disorder. Andy’s experiences highlight how societal perceptions can influence one’s willingness to seek help and the quality of care received.
  • The Quest for Identity — Throughout his journey, Andy grapples with understanding his true self versus the self influenced by mania and depression. This theme explores the challenge of maintaining a stable sense of identity amidst the fluctuating states of bipolar disorder.
  • The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on Relationships — The book delves into how Andy’s condition affects his interactions and relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners, underscoring the broader implications of mental health on social dynamics.
  • The Search for Effective Treatment — Andy’s journey through various treatments, including medication, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), reflects the broader theme of the challenges and complexities involved in managing bipolar disorder.


  • Light and Darkness — These classic symbols are used throughout the memoir to represent the contrasting states of mania (light, energy, euphoria) and depression (darkness, lethargy, despair). This duality mirrors the internal battle Andy faces.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Machine — The ECT machine symbolizes both hope and fear; hope for a solution to unmanageable symptoms and fear of the extreme measures taken to find stability. It represents the physical and psychological extremes Andy endures in his search for balance.
  • Money and Excess — The recurring motif of extravagant spending and living beyond one’s means symbolizes the impulsivity and lack of control associated with mania. Money acts as a tangible measure of the highs and lows Andy experiences.
  • Art and Creativity — Art and creative expression throughout the memoir symbolize both the therapeutic potential of creativity and the fine line between genius and madness. Andy’s involvement in the art world underscores the connection between his bipolar disorder and his creative impulses.

These themes and symbols are woven into the fabric of “Electroboy,” creating a rich tapestry that portrays the complexity of living with bipolar disorder. Andy Behrman’s candid account not only sheds light on his personal struggles and triumphs but also offers a lens through which to explore broader issues related to mental health, identity, and human resilience.

Writing Style and Tone

Andy Behrman’s “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” is distinguished by its vivid writing style and varied tone, which play a crucial role in conveying the emotional landscape of living with bipolar disorder. Here’s how these elements contribute to the book’s mood and atmosphere:

  • Direct and Honest — Behrman employs a straightforward and unflinching approach to storytelling, inviting readers into the most intimate and chaotic aspects of his life. This honesty helps demystify bipolar disorder and builds a strong connection between the author and the reader.
  • Energetic and Intense — Mimicking the manic episodes it describes, the prose often carries an energetic and intense tone. Rapid-fire descriptions, stream-of-consciousness passages, and vivid imagery immerse readers in the whirlwind of mania, effectively conveying the protagonist’s state of mind.
  • Reflective and Sober — Contrasting with the manic highs, Behrman’s style shifts during the recounting of depressive episodes and moments of introspection. These sections are characterized by a more measured pace, reflective tone, and deeper exploration of the emotional and psychological impact of the disorder.
  • Humorous and Wry — Despite the serious themes, Behrman weaves humor throughout his narrative, providing moments of levity that underscore the absurdity of certain situations and the author’s resilience. This use of humor does not diminish the gravity of the subject but rather makes it more approachable and relatable.
  • Visual and Descriptive — Behrman’s background in the art world is evident in his descriptive passages, where he paints vivid pictures of places, people, and experiences. This visual quality not only enriches the narrative but also enhances the reader’s understanding and empathy for his experiences.

Bullet Points on How Style and Tone Contribute to the Book:

  • Enhances emotional engagement and understanding of bipolar disorder.
  • Provides a dynamic and immersive reading experience, reflecting the highs and lows of the condition.
  • Balances the gravity of the subject matter with humor and humanity, making the book accessible.
  • Offers insight into the protagonist’s mind, making his journey and transformations more relatable.
  • Uses vivid imagery and descriptions to underscore the themes of identity, chaos, and the search for stability.

Behrman’s writing style and tone in “Electroboy” serve not just to narrate events but to envelop readers in the experiential reality of bipolar disorder, making the memoir a powerful tool for empathy and awareness.

Literary Devices Used in Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

“Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” utilizes a variety of literary devices that enrich the narrative, deepen the reader’s understanding, and enhance the emotional impact of Andy Behrman’s journey. Here are the top 10 literary devices employed in the book:

  1. Metaphor — Behrman frequently uses metaphors to illustrate the indescribable aspects of his experience with bipolar disorder, comparing his manic highs to being “electrified” or his lows to “sinking into a deep, dark ocean,” which helps readers grasp the emotional and psychological states he navigates.
  2. Simile — Similar to metaphors, similes are used to draw comparisons, such as feeling “like a rocket about to take off” during manic episodes. These comparisons make the abstract sensations of mania and depression more tangible.
  3. Imagery — Vivid imagery is a hallmark of Behrman’s writing, painting detailed pictures of his extravagant lifestyles, periods of deep despair, and the various environments that shape his experiences. This device immerses the reader in the sensory details of his world.
  4. Hyperbole — Exaggeration is used to convey the extremity of his feelings and actions, particularly during manic episodes. Describing seemingly boundless energy or impossibly deep depressions, hyperbole underscores the intensity of bipolar disorder.
  5. Personification — At times, Behrman gives human qualities to abstract concepts, such as his mania or depression, portraying them as companions or adversaries. This device personifies his mental health struggles, making them more relatable.
  6. Allusion — References to cultural figures, art, and history not only contextualize Behrman’s experiences but also enrich the narrative with deeper meanings and connections, linking his personal story to broader cultural and societal themes.
  7. Irony — The use of irony, both situational and dramatic, highlights the contradictions within Behrman’s life and the often unpredictable nature of bipolar disorder, offering insights into the complexities of his condition.
  8. Flashback — Behrman employs flashbacks to provide background information and context, revealing the roots of his disorder and how past experiences shape his present, thereby deepening the reader’s understanding of his journey.
  9. Foreshadowing — Subtle hints about future events or revelations are sprinkled throughout the narrative, building tension and anticipation, and engaging readers by making them eager to see how these hints will unfold.
  10. Anaphora — The repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive clauses is used for emphasis and to convey the cyclical nature of Behrman’s experiences, particularly the repetitive cycle of mania and depression.

These literary devices are not just stylistic choices but are integral to conveying the complexity of bipolar disorder, adding layers of meaning to Behrman’s story, and engaging the reader on a deeper emotional and intellectual level.

Literary Devices Examples

To illustrate how Andy Behrman employs literary devices in “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania,” here are examples and explanations for each of the top 10 devices mentioned:


Example 1:

Describing mania as being “electrified from the inside out.”

Example 2:

Comparing depression to “drowning in a sea of blankets.”


Example 1:

Feeling “like a rocket about to take off” to depict the onset of a manic episode.

Example 2:

Describing his energy as “like a thousand suns burning inside” during periods of high mania.


Example 1:

Vivid descriptions of New York City’s nightlife, capturing the pulsating energy and chaos that mirrors his internal state.

Example 2:

Detailed portrayal of the sterile, cold environment of the hospital during his treatments.


Example 1:

Claiming to have “the energy to power an entire city” during manic episodes.

Example 2:

Describing a depressive episode as feeling “heavier than a mountain.”


Example 1:

Mania is described as an “uninvited guest that takes over every inch of my life.”

Example 2:

Depression is “a shadow that follows me, even in the brightest of days.”


Example 1:

References to Vincent van Gogh to draw parallels between their experiences with mental illness and creativity.

Example 2:

Mentioning the myth of Icarus to symbolize the dangers of flying too high or diving too deep into mania.


Example 1:

Despite seeking freedom through mania, he finds himself more trapped by its consequences.

Example 2:

The pursuit of happiness through extravagant spending only leads to deeper debt and dissatisfaction.


Example 1:

Recalling childhood moments that hint at early signs of bipolar disorder.

Example 2:

Reflecting on a past relationship to show how bipolar disorder affected his capacity for intimacy.


Example 1:

Early mentions of feeling “too alive” hint at the impending crash of depression.

Example 2:

Subtle references to upcoming legal troubles due to reckless behavior during manic episodes.


Example 1:

Repeating “I feel” at the beginning of sentences to describe the fluctuating emotions of mania and depression.

Example 2:

Using “Every time” to start descriptions of the cyclical nature of his treatment and relapse.

These examples demonstrate how Behrman’s use of literary devices enhances the narrative’s expressiveness and depth, allowing readers to engage more fully with the complex emotions and experiences of living with bipolar disorder.

Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania – FAQs

What is bipolar disorder, as depicted in Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania?
Bipolar disorder, in the context of “Electroboy,” is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). The memoir provides a vivid, firsthand account of these swings and their impact on the author’s life.

Who is Andy Behrman?
Andy Behrman is the author of “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania.” He is a former PR professional in the art world, who chronicles his experiences with bipolar disorder, including his highs, lows, and the journey toward stability.

What themes are explored in Electroboy?
The book explores themes such as the stigma of mental illness, the quest for identity, the impact of bipolar disorder on relationships, and the search for effective treatment.

How does Andy Behrman’s bipolar disorder affect his life?
Behrman’s bipolar disorder leads to impulsive decisions, extravagant spending, periods of intense productivity, risky behaviors, and profound periods of depression. These experiences affect his professional life, relationships, and well-being.

What treatments does Andy Behrman undergo in the memoir?
Behrman undergoes various treatments, including medication, psychotherapy, and notably, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), as he seeks stability and relief from his bipolar disorder symptoms.

What is the significance of the title Electroboy?
The title “Electroboy” reflects Behrman’s energetic, electric personality during manic episodes and his experiences with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a significant part of his treatment for bipolar disorder.

How does Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania contribute to the conversation about mental health?
“Electroboy” contributes to mental health discussions by providing an honest, detailed account of living with bipolar disorder. It helps reduce stigma, fosters understanding, and encourages conversations about mental health conditions and their treatment.

Can Electroboy be considered inspirational?
Yes, many readers find “Electroboy” inspirational due to Behrman’s candidness about his struggles and his journey toward managing his bipolar disorder. It highlights the importance of resilience, support, and seeking help.

Is Electroboy suitable for readers who don’t have a background in mental health?
Absolutely. “Electroboy” is written in an accessible manner, making it suitable for a broad audience, including those without prior knowledge of mental health issues. It provides insightful perspectives on bipolar disorder, making it an educational read for anyone interested in learning more about mental health.

What literary devices does Andy Behrman use in Electroboy?
Behrman uses various literary devices, including metaphor, simile, imagery, hyperbole, personification, allusion, irony, flashback, foreshadowing, and anaphora, to enhance the narrative and express the complexities of living with bipolar disorder.


QuestionsABCDCorrect Answer
What is the primary theme of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania?The glamour of the art worldThe challenges of living with bipolar disorderThe importance of familyThe pursuit of fameB
Which literary device is prominently used to describe Andy’s manic episodes?IronyHyperboleAllusionMetaphorB
Who is the author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania?Andy WarholAndy BehrmanAndy CohenAndy WeirB
What treatment does Andy undergo that is highlighted by the book’s title?MedicationPsychotherapyElectroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)MeditationC
How does bipolar disorder affect Andy’s professional life?It has no effectIt enhances his creativity but leads to risky behaviorsIt leads to consistent successIt makes him avoid workB
What symbolizes Andy’s manic episodes in the book?The color redA fast carElectricityA rocketC
What is a major impact of Andy’s condition on his personal life?Improved relationshipsIsolation and damaged relationshipsIncreased popularityNo impactB
Which theme is NOT explored in Electroboy?The stigma of mental illnessThe quest for identityThe impact of technology on societyThe search for effective treatmentC
What does Andy hope to achieve through his memoir?Fame and fortuneA detailed account of the art worldReducing the stigma around bipolar disorder and sharing his journeyStarting a new career in writingC
Which literary device does Behrman use to provide background information about his condition?FlashbackSimileMetaphorPersonificationA

This quiz is designed to test comprehension of “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” by Andy Behrman, focusing on its themes, literary devices, the author’s experiences, and the impact of bipolar disorder on various aspects of life.


Identify the literary devices used in the following paragraph from “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” and explain their significance. Provide your answers after the separator line.

In the throes of mania, I felt like I could conquer the world, a sensation as exhilarating as flying close to the sun, much like Icarus. Every street in New York City seemed to sparkle just for me, the skyscrapers towering like giants ready to grant my every wish. But with each ascent, there’s the inevitable fall, a plunge into darkness that felt as if the sun itself had turned its back on me.


  1. Simile – “I felt like I could conquer the world” compares the feeling of mania to conquering the world, illustrating the profound sense of power and invincibility that comes with a manic episode.
  2. Allusion – “Much like Icarus” references the Greek myth of Icarus, symbolizing the dangers of overambition and the eventual downfall that follows reaching too high or getting too close to the sun, paralleling the highs of mania followed by the crash into depression.
  3. Personification – “The skyscrapers towering like giants ready to grant my every wish” personifies the skyscrapers, giving them qualities of giants, which emphasizes the grandiosity and distorted perception of reality during a manic phase.
  4. Imagery – Descriptions like “Every street in New York City seemed to sparkle just for me” create vivid imagery, painting a picture of the world through the eyes of someone experiencing mania, where everything feels heightened and personalized.
  5. Metaphor – “A plunge into darkness” is a metaphor for the sudden shift into depression, comparing the emotional descent to a physical fall, highlighting the abrupt and profound change in mood and outlook.

This exercise demonstrates how literary devices in “Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania” enhance the narrative, offering deeper insights into the bipolar experience by connecting the reader to the emotional states of mania and depression through vivid language and symbolism.