Past Meetup

Skeptical Salon: Every Last Tie by David Kaczynski

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Maynard has kindly offered to host the Skeptical Salon for August! And it's a short book, so it won't get TOO much in the way of your summertime adventures.

The impact of mental illness on a family is a sensitive topic, so bring some consideration along with your snacks and drinks. We'll be reading Every Last Tie: The Story of the Unabomber and His Family by David Kaczynski ( Possible discussion topics: diagnosis/misdiagnosis, denial on the part of close relatives, hope versus red flags, coming to terms with reality, and the lack of sociopolitical resolve in identifying and treating mental illness.

About the book:
In August 1995 David Kaczynski's wife Linda asked him a difficult question: "Do you think your brother Ted is the Unabomber?" He couldn't be, David thought. But as the couple pored over the Unabomber's seventy-eight-page manifesto, David couldn't rule out the possibility. It slowly became clear to them that Ted was likely responsible for mailing the seventeen bombs that killed three people and injured many more. Wanting to prevent further violence, David made the agonizing decision to turn his brother in to the FBI.

Every Last Tie is David's highly personal and powerful memoir of his family, as well as a meditation on the possibilities for reconciliation and maintaining family bonds. Seen through David's eyes, Ted was a brilliant, yet troubled, young mathematician and a loving older brother. Their parents were supportive and emphasized to their sons the importance of education and empathy. But as Ted grew older he became more and more withdrawn, his behavior became increasingly erratic, and he often sent angry letters to his family from his isolated cabin in rural Montana. During Ted's trial David worked hard to save Ted from the death penalty, and since then he has been a leading activist in the anti–death penalty movement. The book concludes with an afterword by psychiatry professor and forensic psychiatrist James L. Knoll IV, who discusses the current challenges facing the mental health system in the United States as well as the link between mental illness and violence.