Rooting for the underdog is a satisfying endeavor, especially when the purported villain is a multinational pharmaceutical company. That means most readers will want to root for Henryk Behr, resident of a small town in Scotland. In his book, he explains the sudden ruination of his health during September 2010 after he ingested two capsules of L-Tryptophan he had ordered from a British company named Biovea, which sold the genetically engineered substance for a company called Source Naturals.
Behr, a happily married man, father of a young son, and caretaker of elderly parents, decided to ingest the medicine due to a slight heart arrhythmia, occasional shortness of breath and a stiff neck muscle. Almost immediately, he says, he stopped sleeping well (averaging about two hours per night), found playing with his son too painful because every body part ached, could no longer perform sexually or even concentrate on television –and, thus, mostly sat on a couch in agony.
Determined to uncover what had crippled him, Behr somehow worked through the agony to research his alarming condition. He decided he had contracted the rare autoimmune condition Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome. Persuaded that the medicine was the only possible cause, Behr began writing his medical expose/memoir. In the short time since, he has attempted to gather copious information, some of it highly complex, as well as decipher the scientific validity of that information. While the book does a good job of explaining EMS, it becomes problematic when insisting that the capsules are the cause of this illness.
The trouble is, Behr offers no credible evidence. His reasoning is unreliably inductive: he started feeling awful shortly after ingesting two capsules; no other cause is apparent, thus the capsules must be responsible. Perhaps Behr’s conclusion is correct. A painstaking, dispassionate reading of this passionate book, however, offers nothing to substantiate that hypothesis.
Behr’s lack of writing skills further hampers his cause: the book has little organizational structure, consisting primarily of reprinted email correspondence, much of which cannot be clearly understood due to the absence of clear antecedents. Furthermore, almost every page contains flawed grammar, poor word choices and incorrect punctuation.
Behr’s pain – psychological and physical – is palpable in his book. Unfortunately, that pain does not translate into an effective indictment of those who manufacture and market the product Behr feels certain has ruined his life.
Also available as a hardcover and ebook.