Skip to product information
1 of 1

Notting Hill Editions

Mentored by a Madman

Mentored by a Madman

The William Burroughs Experiment

by A.J. Lees, foreword by James Grauerholz

Regular price $18.95
Regular price $0.00 Sale price $18.95

A fascinating account by one of the world's leading neurologists of the profound influence of William Burroughs on his medical career. Lees relates how Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and troubled drug addict, inspired him to discover a ground-breaking treatment for Parkinson's Disease. Lees journeys to the Amazonian rainforest in search of cures, and through self-experimentation seeks to find the answers his patients crave. He enters a powerful plea for the return of imagination to medical research.

Click here to listen to A.J. Lees discuss Mentored by a Madman on the Expanding Mind podcast.

Additional Book Information

Series: Notting Hill Editions
ISBN: 9781910749104
Pages: 236
Publication Date:


Lees takes the reader on an extraordinary journey inside and outside the brain. His deep humanity and honesty shines throughout. The inevitable comparison with the late, great Oliver Sacks is entirely just.
—Raymond Tallis

Andrew Lees celebrates the honourable tradition of the hunch in medical diagnosis and treatment.
—Professor John Hardy, winner of the 2015 Discovery Prize

[Lees’s] book is not just a wonderfully unexpected addition to the Burroughs literature, but an important polemic for more humane and imaginative medical research.
—Phil Baker, The Times Literary Supplement

It is hard to believe that this extraordinary memoir is not fiction, but every word turns out to be rooted in hospital life and literary experience. Andrew Lees is an internationally distinguished neurologist, Britain’s leading Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s expert. Mentored By a Madman is both an exotic memoir and a passionate appeal for a more humane approach to bio-medical research. In associating himself with Burroughs, Professor Lees is arguing that potential breakthroughs in the treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases are most likely to come from a relaxation of the stringent controls surrounding the profession.
—Robert McCrum, The Observer

Yes, do read this book to discover how William S. Burroughs inspired a professional lifetime of brilliant medical research. But read it as well, perhaps even more so, to be reminded of what genuine medical care can and should be…No technical knowledge is required to profit from this marvellous book.
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

Mentored by a Madman is an original and interesting book from one of the world's leading experts in the field of movement disorders...The beautiful prose and original contents suggest comparisons with the writings of authors of the calibre of Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, and Oliver Sacks...Surely this is the kind of book that curious readers who are used to thinking outside the box enjoy the most.
The British Journal of Psychiatry

Andrew Lees has written a fascinating and provocative memoir.
— Jon Palfreman, Journal of Parkinson’s Disease

This book is highly recommended to anyone who wants to reimagine the magic of neurology, science, life, the universe and everything.
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry

A.J. Lees' Mentored by a Madman is a kaleidoscopic mix of his experiences as a neurologist, his private passions and how they have informed his career, as well as his thoughts regarding some of the bureaucracy that limits research and medical practice today. What gives this book such a unique perspective is the part played by the titular 'madman'...It is a rare thing to find a book with such a unique perspective and accompanying content; however, this is exactly what Mentored by a Madman provides...The book is also reminiscent in some ways of the literary work of Oliver Sacks...As well as a personal account of Lees' experiences, this book also serves as a call for more open-mindedness and freedom in our exploration of medical science.
The Lancet

View full details
  • Shopping for someone else but not sure what to give them? Give them the gift of choice with a New York Review Books Gift Card.

    Gift Cards 
  • A membership for yourself or as a gift for a special reader will promise a year of good reading.

    Join NYRB Classics Book Club 
  • Is there a book that you’d like to see back in print, or that you think we should consider for one of our series? Let us know!

    Tell us about it