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The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice

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A rural physician learns that a former doctor at his clinic committed a shocking crime, leading him to uncover an undiagnosed mental health crisis in our broken prison system--a powerful true story expanding on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time. When family physician Dr. Benjamin Gilmer began working at the Cane Creek clinic in rural North Caro A rural physician learns that a former doctor at his clinic committed a shocking crime, leading him to uncover an undiagnosed mental health crisis in our broken prison system--a powerful true story expanding on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time. When family physician Dr. Benjamin Gilmer began working at the Cane Creek clinic in rural North Carolina, he was following in the footsteps of a man with the same last name. His predecessor, Dr. Vince Gilmer, was beloved by his patients and community--right up until the shocking moment when he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular day of work after the murder. He'd been in prison for nearly a decade by the time Benjamin arrived, but Vince's patients would still tell Benjamin they couldn't believe the other Dr. Gilmer was capable of such violence. The more Benjamin looked into Vince's case, the more he knew that something was wrong. Vince knew, too. He complained from the time he was arrested of his SSRI brain, referring to withdrawal from his anti-depressant medication. When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who was obviously fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering off into nonsensical tangents. Enlisting This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to get Vince the help he needed. But time and again, the pair would come up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates--despite an estimated one third of them suffering from an untreated mental illness. In The Other Dr. Gilmer, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer tells of how a caring man was overcome by a perfect storm of rare health conditions, leading to an unimaginable crime. Rather than get treatment, Vince Gilmer was sentenced to life in prison--a life made all the worse by his untrustworthy brain and prison and government officials who dismissed his situation. A large percentage of imprisoned Americans are suffering from mental illness when they commit their crimes and continue to suffer, untreated, in prison. In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer argues that some crimes need to be healed rather than punished.


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A rural physician learns that a former doctor at his clinic committed a shocking crime, leading him to uncover an undiagnosed mental health crisis in our broken prison system--a powerful true story expanding on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time. When family physician Dr. Benjamin Gilmer began working at the Cane Creek clinic in rural North Caro A rural physician learns that a former doctor at his clinic committed a shocking crime, leading him to uncover an undiagnosed mental health crisis in our broken prison system--a powerful true story expanding on one of the most popular This American Life episodes of all time. When family physician Dr. Benjamin Gilmer began working at the Cane Creek clinic in rural North Carolina, he was following in the footsteps of a man with the same last name. His predecessor, Dr. Vince Gilmer, was beloved by his patients and community--right up until the shocking moment when he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular day of work after the murder. He'd been in prison for nearly a decade by the time Benjamin arrived, but Vince's patients would still tell Benjamin they couldn't believe the other Dr. Gilmer was capable of such violence. The more Benjamin looked into Vince's case, the more he knew that something was wrong. Vince knew, too. He complained from the time he was arrested of his SSRI brain, referring to withdrawal from his anti-depressant medication. When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who was obviously fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering off into nonsensical tangents. Enlisting This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to get Vince the help he needed. But time and again, the pair would come up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates--despite an estimated one third of them suffering from an untreated mental illness. In The Other Dr. Gilmer, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer tells of how a caring man was overcome by a perfect storm of rare health conditions, leading to an unimaginable crime. Rather than get treatment, Vince Gilmer was sentenced to life in prison--a life made all the worse by his untrustworthy brain and prison and government officials who dismissed his situation. A large percentage of imprisoned Americans are suffering from mental illness when they commit their crimes and continue to suffer, untreated, in prison. In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer argues that some crimes need to be healed rather than punished.

30 review for The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice

  1. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    In 2004, Dr. Vince Gilmer picked up his father from the assisted living facility, strangled him, cut off his fingertips, dumped his body, and then calmly went to work at the clinic the next morning and put in a full day’s work. These facts aren’t in dispute. The question is WHY? Dr. Vince was a much beloved physician and member of the community who went above and beyond in caring for his patients. In the year before the murder there were hints that not all was well in his world, and after his arr In 2004, Dr. Vince Gilmer picked up his father from the assisted living facility, strangled him, cut off his fingertips, dumped his body, and then calmly went to work at the clinic the next morning and put in a full day’s work. These facts aren’t in dispute. The question is WHY? Dr. Vince was a much beloved physician and member of the community who went above and beyond in caring for his patients. In the year before the murder there were hints that not all was well in his world, and after his arrest he behaved even more strangely. Many thought he was a malingerer, feigning mental illness to avoid prosecution. But were there other factors that came into play? 10 years after the murder, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer (no relation) accepts a job at the same clinic Dr. Vince Gilmer practiced. What are the odds that they would share a name? He finds he is living in the shadow of the much beloved Dr Vince, and his curiosity grows. The picture of Vince that he was getting from his patients was far different than that of a vicious murderer. Why would a man who couldn’t even kill a mouse in a trap, viciously murder his father? Dr Benjamin begins to investigate the case, combing the court transcripts. He later joins Sarah Koenig of This American Life, who was working on a story about Dr. Vince. Dr. Benjamin eventually meets with Vince and is shocked at what he finds. Is he a wily psychopath or a seriously ill man? Dr. Benjamin was convinced it was the latter, and that Vince suffered from a combination of mental and physical disabilities that may or may not have contributed to his crime. Even more shocking, he was not receiving the medical treatment he needed. There’s no question Vince committed the crime, and there may be a difference of opinion on what price he should pay if there were extenuating circumstances, but there is no question he should receive adequate medical care. Due to Dr. Benjamin’s tireless advocacy, Dr Vince was eventually discovered to have a neurodegenerative, disease, Huntington’s chorea, and was suffering from mental illness exacerbated by childhood trauma and abuse. Other factors also came into play in explaining Dr. Vince’s condition including possible head injury and serotonin discontinuation syndrome. But it still took years of work and advocacy for Dr Vince to get the help he needed. (NOTE: this is not a spoiler, the case is all over the news, and has been featured on This American Life. The beauty of this book is the why and the how the case progressed, and the details of Dr B's advocacy) The kindness and compassion of Dr Benjamin Gilmer led him to become a warrior and advocate, not just for Dr. Vince, but to reform the system. This is a fascinating true crime/medical mystery story that not only tells the story of the two Dr Gilmers, but one that highlights the failures and injustices in our prison system and the lack of medical and mental health care for prisoners. As many as 37% of prisoners have some form of mental illness. Shockingly, there are more mentally ill people living in prison than in mental hospitals. Humane reforms are desperately needed. Highly recommended! The audiobook is narrated by the author, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer, who did a fantastic job.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    In an incredible twist of fate, or karma, or whatever you believe, Dr Benjamin Gilmer winds up practicing in a small town which the previous doctor, Dr Vincent Gilmer had practiced in for years. Vicent was not a relative of Benjamin's so sharing the same last name was quite odd. Odd indeed, since the Vince had one day picked up his dad at an assisted living facility and then went ahead and brutally committed patricide. What drove Vince to commit such an atrocity? Benjamin endeavors to learn of th In an incredible twist of fate, or karma, or whatever you believe, Dr Benjamin Gilmer winds up practicing in a small town which the previous doctor, Dr Vincent Gilmer had practiced in for years. Vicent was not a relative of Benjamin's so sharing the same last name was quite odd. Odd indeed, since the Vince had one day picked up his dad at an assisted living facility and then went ahead and brutally committed patricide. What drove Vince to commit such an atrocity? Benjamin endeavors to learn of the other Dr Gilmer and from what he finds out, Dr V Gilmer was a well loved member of the town of Cane Creek, NC. He also learns that Dr V. Gilmer is serving time in prison. Intrigued, Benjamin decides to investigate further and as he becomes involved, he finds Dr V. Gilmer, had undertaken the job of defending himself at his trial, using the term SSRI brain as his defense. SSRI is the brain's attempt to withdraw from anti-depressant medication. Working up enough courage, Benjamin visits Vincent and find a shell of a man. He shuffles his feet, looks ten years older than his forty years, and a definite deterioration of his brain functions. Benjamin was intrigued and felt that there obviously had been a miscarriage of justice. This book, which was narrated by Dr Ben, was an investigation into the years that Ben tried to obtain some compassion and eventually a pardon for Vince. It's a wake up call to the amount of mental illness prevalent in our prison system and how so many of its inhabitants should be in a mental hospital receiving help, not condemned to a small cell. Many parts were hard to listen to and of course along the way, we develop the same empathy for Vince that his many patients and eventually Benjamin and his family find within themselves. Definitely a fascinating true crime story, one that brought realization that prison has in many cases become a holding cell for people who are seriously mentally ill. Finding out if Ben and others were successful in freeing Vince was a most interesting tale of how mistakes are made and often the mentally ill wind up in a place where they don't belong.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Real Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up because the issues it raises too important to ignore A 2022 New York Public Library Best Adult book! I RECEIVED MY DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: The carceral economy that makes corporations wealthy is evil. That's my bias, right there; I make no apologies for it, and if your opinion is otherwise, this review will make you angry and upset, and feel (correctly) that you are being shamed and blamed for your absence of empathy and decen Real Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up because the issues it raises too important to ignore A 2022 New York Public Library Best Adult book! I RECEIVED MY DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: The carceral economy that makes corporations wealthy is evil. That's my bias, right there; I make no apologies for it, and if your opinion is otherwise, this review will make you angry and upset, and feel (correctly) that you are being shamed and blamed for your absence of empathy and decency. Doubled if you claim to follow a religion. The rest of my screed is here: https://expendablemudge.blogspot.com/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tooter

    5 Stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    What are the chances that a relatively newly minted MD would take over a rural practice from another MD with the same last name? Minuscule, I think, but it happened. I was unfamiliar with the Gilmer case and almost didn’t read this. The state of our prison system is appalling. Those in need of treatment receive punishment. I was heartened by one Dr. Gilmer’s dogged determination to help the other Dr. Gilmer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel the Page-Turner

    There are three things I want to say about this book, and they are things that I rarely say: 1. It made me cry (hard to do). 2. I learned a lot. 3. This book is a MUST READ. I debated for a long time about how much to reveal about this story. I have decided that since it is a true story that was in the news (though I’d never heard of this particular case), that it was okay to share details. If you want to go into it fresh, stop reading my review now - but know that you should definitely read the boo There are three things I want to say about this book, and they are things that I rarely say: 1. It made me cry (hard to do). 2. I learned a lot. 3. This book is a MUST READ. I debated for a long time about how much to reveal about this story. I have decided that since it is a true story that was in the news (though I’d never heard of this particular case), that it was okay to share details. If you want to go into it fresh, stop reading my review now - but know that you should definitely read the book. Dr. Vince Gilmer was a rural doctor in the Appalachian area of southern America. He was gentle, kind, well-loved and very respected by all who knew him … until one day, when he took his father out of his healthcare facility, strangled him with a dog leash, cut off his fingers, and dumped his body on the side of the road. Dr. Ben Gilmer (no relation) soon took his spot at the small clinic, and was horrified to hear what his predecessor had done. He was worried this tight-knit community wouldn’t accept him, especially since he is also Dr. Gilmer, and also worried that the “other” Dr. Gilmer would somehow get revenge while serving his life sentence. However, after hearing about the elder doctor and how much his patients loved him, he decided to visit the other doctor in prison to get his side of the story. Long story short, he soon realized that Vince Gilmer was a man who was suffering. Shortly before killing his father, Vince went off the SSRI antidepressant he was on, Lexapro. As anyone who has been on an SSRI knows, when you start or stop taking them abruptly, you can literally go crazy. Was this a case of serotonin withdrawal? The other Dr. Gilmer had also been sexually abused by his father as a child, and had PTSD from that abuse. He ALSO had recently received a traumatic brain injury, which can certainly make people irrational and completely change their personalities. Was this a man with a brain that was severely damaged, or a psychopathic killer trying to make excuses for his behavior? With all of these factors in play, Dr. Ben Gilmer realized that this doctor, who ended up defending himself in court, may not have been in his right mind when he murdered his father. He began visiting Vince more, and one day brought a colleague who noticed some disturbing physical symptoms that mimicked Huntington’s Disease. I had never heard of this, but it is kind of similar to having both Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s at the same time. It causes tics, tremors, walking issues and mental instability. The only way to find out for sure if he had it was to do genetic testing … which came back as positive for Huntington’s. With this new knowledge, and after getting to know Vince, Ben realized that this entire situation was a miscarriage of justice. This man had multiple factors that could have caused him to “snap” and kill. He was allowed to defend himself, when it should have been clear to most people that he was suffering from a mental illness. He was sentenced to life in prison, and was left with no physical or psychiatric care - very common in the American prison system. Soon, Ben realized that he needed to step in and advocate for this man. The rest of the book goes through the years-long process of trying to get clemency for this once kind and gentle man, and get him into a mental health facility that could help him. Huntington’s has no cure, but there are treatments that can bring some comfort as the victim’s mind and body are ravaged until they die a horrific death. I won’t spoil how it turned out, in case you are like me and had never heard of this story, but this book will keep you captivated and hoping for some justice. I learned a lot while reading this book - not only about Huntington’s Disease, but about how so many mentally ill people fall through the cracks in our legal system. I know it happens all the time, but the specifics of this situation are shocking. I found myself rooting for an admitted killer, and hating the people who failed him. He had been telling people that his brain wasn’t working properly, but it was brushed off as malingering. Had anyone intervened sooner, the murder may have been avoided. Why didn’t anyone see that this man was suffering? Why didn’t the legal system investigate the situation more thoroughly? Why did they automatically assume he was faking the physical symptoms he was having? WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN? As an advocate for mental health, I was shocked and saddened by how everything went down, as was Dr. Ben. He spent years getting to know Dr. Vince, and trying to get him out of prison and into someplace more appropriate for his situation. Again, I won’t spoil the very end, but it is very emotional and heart-wrenching. As I said earlier, this is a must-read book, and the case should be highly publicized as an example of how the American prison system just does not work. I can’t give this book anything less than five stars - it was involving, intriguing and very, very illustrative. I could not recommend it more highly, and I hope this book helps affect major changes to our legal and prison systems. (Thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer, and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review. I’m kicking myself for sitting on it for so long.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Valleri

    Big thanks to Ballantine Books, as well as to @NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Other Dr. Gilmer. What a fascinating book! Fascinating and heartwrenching!! The Other Dr. Gilmer begins with a strange twist of fate whereby Dr. Benjamin Gilmer starts working at Cane Creek clinic in rural North Carolina and takes over the practice that once belonged to Dr. Vince Gilmer. The bizarre part is that they aren't related to each other. What are the odds?? Dr. Vince Gilme Big thanks to Ballantine Books, as well as to @NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Other Dr. Gilmer. What a fascinating book! Fascinating and heartwrenching!! The Other Dr. Gilmer begins with a strange twist of fate whereby Dr. Benjamin Gilmer starts working at Cane Creek clinic in rural North Carolina and takes over the practice that once belonged to Dr. Vince Gilmer. The bizarre part is that they aren't related to each other. What are the odds?? Dr. Vince Gilmer was a kind, considerate, and much-loved physician ... right up until he strangled this father, cut his father's fingers off, dumped the body in a spot where it would be located, and went back to the clinic to see patients! He was tried, convicted, and had been imprisoned for 10 years prior to Dr. Benjamin showing up to work the practice. Rumor has it that Dr. Vince is about to be released. He is said to be furious about Dr. Benjamin taking over his practice and he is going to take back what is rightfully his! After a period of time where Dr. Benjamin is making himself crazy, making sure his house is completely locked up, and keeping a baseball bat within reach, he decides to go to the prison and meet Dr. Vince. What he finds is a shell of a man who constantly twitches, rolls his eyes, and twists his mouth as he veers off into nonsensical tangents. Rather than receiving treatment, Dr. Vince has been dismissed by prison and government officials. Dr. Benjamin is horrified and resolves to at least diagnose Dr. Vince and get him the help he needs. Unfortunately, pleas for clemency have been repeatedly denied and Dr. Vince remains in prison to this day, although he is at least now receiving the medication he needs. This book definitely opened my eyes to the fact that some criminals should be healed rather than punished. Everyone should read The Other Dr. Gilmer. It not only educated me but it's one I'll never forget. #TheOtherDrGilmer #NetGalley

  8. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    Once I started reading this book, I realized that I’d already seen the story on a television crime show a couple of times. That didn't detract from a very good, well written true crime story with much to recommend it. It really fleshed out the rest of the story for me. It’s sad and disturbing in what it reveals about life in prison for the mentally ill. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Once I started reading this book, I realized that I’d already seen the story on a television crime show a couple of times. That didn't detract from a very good, well written true crime story with much to recommend it. It really fleshed out the rest of the story for me. It’s sad and disturbing in what it reveals about life in prison for the mentally ill. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  9. 5 out of 5

    carol

    I unfortunately had a very hard time liking the author. The story is a good one. But I found the author to be troublesome. The part up until the diagnosis and essentially the case is figured out is fairly riveting. An interesting true crime and no doubt a wonderful feat for the author and inmate. And I don't want my dislike for this book take away anything from my true appreciation to the energy and dedication it took to find the underlying truth. But this is a book review and the truth of the ma I unfortunately had a very hard time liking the author. The story is a good one. But I found the author to be troublesome. The part up until the diagnosis and essentially the case is figured out is fairly riveting. An interesting true crime and no doubt a wonderful feat for the author and inmate. And I don't want my dislike for this book take away anything from my true appreciation to the energy and dedication it took to find the underlying truth. But this is a book review and the truth of the matter is, I did not care much for the author and his tone of voice in his writing. I found him, well to be quite frank, annoying. After the truth is discovered the author becomes preachy and a bit self-righteous which I found in contradiction to some of the times in the book where I found him on the daft/ignorant side. He got so grandiose in his thoughts about Vince and the world and his part in it and our part in it, I almost quit. My issue isn't that the author isn't correct, my issue is I found him disingenuous. I couldn't shake the feeling that although he claims to not want the attention, he truly does like it and he wants to be congratulated for it fairly often, thus the interviews, and thus this book. Just too much saviorism for my taste. Stay for the crime and the solving and the back drop of rural North Carolina. Leave immediately once dinner is over, don't stay for drinks after and hear the author drone on and on.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    There are two Dr. Gilmers. Vince Gilmer was beloved by his patients until the day he gruesomely murdered his sick father then calmly walked back into his office to treat patients. Benjamin Gilmer has taken over Vince’s Asheville practice and through conversations with patients and staff, is driven to learn what could have propelled Vince to commit this heinous crime. He reads transcripts of Vince’s past court appearances and is shocked when he first visits him in jail, witnessing his behavior. Th There are two Dr. Gilmers. Vince Gilmer was beloved by his patients until the day he gruesomely murdered his sick father then calmly walked back into his office to treat patients. Benjamin Gilmer has taken over Vince’s Asheville practice and through conversations with patients and staff, is driven to learn what could have propelled Vince to commit this heinous crime. He reads transcripts of Vince’s past court appearances and is shocked when he first visits him in jail, witnessing his behavior. The prison system will fail him for years to come. Will Benjamin be able to put a name to this neurologic degeneration? A fascinating true story first spotlighted in an episode of This American Life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Siria

    Benjamin Gilmer, a recently qualified doctor, joins a practice in a poor, rural part of North Carolina to find out that not only does he by chance share his surname with the town’s beloved former doctor, Vince Gilmer, but that The Other Dr. Gilmer was serving a life sentence for the horrific murder of his elderly father. At first distressed by the unexpected connection, Benjamin Gilmer eventually finds himself visiting his namesake in prison and realising that while there’s no doubt that Vince G Benjamin Gilmer, a recently qualified doctor, joins a practice in a poor, rural part of North Carolina to find out that not only does he by chance share his surname with the town’s beloved former doctor, Vince Gilmer, but that The Other Dr. Gilmer was serving a life sentence for the horrific murder of his elderly father. At first distressed by the unexpected connection, Benjamin Gilmer eventually finds himself visiting his namesake in prison and realising that while there’s no doubt that Vince Gilmer committed the murder, his legal culpability is in doubt. Vince Gilmer has a fatal neurodegenerative disease which almost certainly played a role in his actions. There’s every reason to believe that if he had been diagnosed by the time of his trial, Vince Gilmer would have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a medical institution where he could get the medical care he needed to manage his last years. (There is no cure for his condition.) Benjamin Gilmer embarks on a campaign to gain a pardon and better medical care for Vince Gilmer. This was something of a frustrating read. While Vince Gilmer’s story is a fascinating one—one which raises multiple questions about justice, legal accountability, the injustices of the carceral prison system, societal perspectives on mental illness and more—I do not think that Benjamin Gilmer is the best person to tell that story. Yes, he’s been involved in Vince Gilmer’s appeals process; yes, there is that hook that comes from the coincidence in their names. But Benjamin Gilmer is, I think, more than a little self-involved. There’s nothing here that indicates that he would ever have thought very much at all about, say, the wrongs of mass incarceration if he hadn’t found out about the case of someone who shared a name and a job with him. I’m sure I too would be unsettled a bit by such a coincidence, but the grandiosity of his response—the anxiety that Vince Gilmer would be released from prison and attack him, the purchasing of security equipment, his talk of how he needed “healing” and so on—came across as weirdly centering him in a story that fundamentally is not about him. There’s also a lot of white saviourism/Nice White Centrist Dude-ism throughout. He wants the reader to know from the get-go that he spent time working at clinics in Gabon and Central America; is keen for us to know how much the Gabonese respected him and his vocation; tells us that he and his wife often put the suffix -ito on words because of the time they (two white people who’ve got very Anglo-sounding surnames) have spent in Latin America; and more than once makes passing reference to and/or describes women and/or BIPOC people in ways that made me side-eye. I finished this book thinking that Gilmer is not the kind of person who thinks very far beyond the end of his nose. And then, too, Benjamin Gilmer’s exploration of issues like legal accountability or the crisis in the provision of mental health services in the U.S. is cursory and shallow, and there are no new observations or insights to be gleaned here for anyone who’s read even a little on the subject before. Ultimately not a book that I feel has much to recommend it beyond calling attention to the case of Vince Gilmer—but honestly listening to the This American Life episode about it would be quicker to get through and just as informative.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Dr. Benjamin Gilmer finds himself in an odd position: taking the position at a small rural doctor's office, replacing the doctor who was now a convicted murder -- Dr. Vince Gilmer. As author Dr. Gilmer begins learning about the case and the community, he realizes that the old Dr. Gilmer may not have been a crazed psychopath, but perhaps suffering with a medical condition that likely could have caused him to commit such a heinous crime. As Gilmer himself says, this is not a true crime book in the Dr. Benjamin Gilmer finds himself in an odd position: taking the position at a small rural doctor's office, replacing the doctor who was now a convicted murder -- Dr. Vince Gilmer. As author Dr. Gilmer begins learning about the case and the community, he realizes that the old Dr. Gilmer may not have been a crazed psychopath, but perhaps suffering with a medical condition that likely could have caused him to commit such a heinous crime. As Gilmer himself says, this is not a true crime book in the sense that it is not a story whose sole purpose is to cover the murder and the investigation. It is, rather, a story about the potential medical cause of the murder, the search for a medical diagnosis for the murderer, and the experiences of the mentally or physically ill in America's prison systems. Admittedly, however, I enjoyed the more true crime aspects towards the beginning of the book more than the appeal process near the end. The murder, the trial, the aftermath -- the competing facts of each of these kept me hooked and interested in reading further. Once we get a diagnosis and Ben Gilmer begins narrating the experience of the appeals process and Vince's decline in prison, I found my interest waning. There were definitely moments I found interesting in the back half, especially with the conversations about the systematic neglect of people who have been incarcerated, but I wished the pacing was a bit more balanced. If you like books like "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" or "Just Mercy", you'll love this one!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan Leathers

    "The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 37 percent of male inmates in prisons suffer from severe mental illness. My conversation with Vince that day made me ask myself, and not for the first time, why? If mental illness was one of the reasons they were in prison, then crime was not just a legal problem, but a medical one--not just for the courts but for us care providers, as well.. Clearly, we could be doing a better job." This stunning book by Dr. Benjamin Gilmer about Dr. Vince Gilmer "The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 37 percent of male inmates in prisons suffer from severe mental illness. My conversation with Vince that day made me ask myself, and not for the first time, why? If mental illness was one of the reasons they were in prison, then crime was not just a legal problem, but a medical one--not just for the courts but for us care providers, as well.. Clearly, we could be doing a better job." This stunning book by Dr. Benjamin Gilmer about Dr. Vince Gilmer navigates the world of a mentally ill killer, but not in the way you would expect. There is compassion, understanding, and the search for true justice, not punishment. There is no doubt about what crime occurred and who committed it, but it is the "why" and the actions of the following days that are so intriguing. Delving into the backstory, as well as the author's own history before launching into a uphill battle of seeking the truth kept me rushing back to these pages anytime I had a free second. Your thoughts and opinions at the beginning will be vastly different from the end (in a good way) and you will fully empathize with the author's still-continuing fight to get a man out of prison who shouldn't be there.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A compelling story of a beloved small-town doctor who brutally killed his father. A few years later, a replacement doctor is hired. This doctor, through pure coincidence, shares the same last name with the murderer, who is now serving a life sentence. New Dr. Gilmer is at first intrigued, then frightened, then terrified of the “other” Dr. Gilmer. Eventually he visits the murderer in prison and discovers that things are not at all as he’d thought. This was an engrossing read, and an indictment of A compelling story of a beloved small-town doctor who brutally killed his father. A few years later, a replacement doctor is hired. This doctor, through pure coincidence, shares the same last name with the murderer, who is now serving a life sentence. New Dr. Gilmer is at first intrigued, then frightened, then terrified of the “other” Dr. Gilmer. Eventually he visits the murderer in prison and discovers that things are not at all as he’d thought. This was an engrossing read, and an indictment of our judicial and prison system.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    This book will break your heart. It will anger you and frustrate you and then break your heart all over again. This is a book that needs to be read with Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy" and Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow". This is a book that needs to be read with an open mind and an open heart and will evoke emotions you may never recover from. You may THINK you know this story and what it is about and how it will end, but I am pretty sure you [like me] will be wrong. I am still grappling This book will break your heart. It will anger you and frustrate you and then break your heart all over again. This is a book that needs to be read with Bryan Stevenson's "Just Mercy" and Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow". This is a book that needs to be read with an open mind and an open heart and will evoke emotions you may never recover from. You may THINK you know this story and what it is about and how it will end, but I am pretty sure you [like me] will be wrong. I am still grappling with all I just read and I will be grappling with it for a long time. There is so much that needs to be done in the area of mental health and incarceration - we as a nation need to really reevaluate WHY and HOW we lock people up and this book is a prime example of why. Such a great read, one that will never leave me. I highly recommend that you go and get this book immediately. Thank you to NetGalley, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer, and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine/Ballantine Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    There is one other review here that describes this book much better than I could by Teresa. Absolutely spot on her succinct reaction. I also was stymied and aghast at some of this author's opinion and copy lengths. As horrendously sorrowful as this Dr. Vince tale is, the posits for treatment described and implied in the author's worldview of idealist never-never land? Victims of such horrific deeds occur. Containment of perpetrators for nearly all various types of such outlier mental illness are There is one other review here that describes this book much better than I could by Teresa. Absolutely spot on her succinct reaction. I also was stymied and aghast at some of this author's opinion and copy lengths. As horrendously sorrowful as this Dr. Vince tale is, the posits for treatment described and implied in the author's worldview of idealist never-never land? Victims of such horrific deeds occur. Containment of perpetrators for nearly all various types of such outlier mental illness are absolutely necessary. SSRI withdrawal just a mere tip of an iceberg to such depths of mental/ chemical imbalance. Genetic diseases of this nature are truly heart-wrenching. Some of the worst mental and physical realities for sure. But time and again reading this, I felt strongly- Dr. Benjamin Gilmer heal and fix yourself. He poor mouths more than several times too. And yet where is his time spent? I truly understand the common reaction to this book and Dr. Benjamin's tale. Where is the empathy for victims of death and mutilation in this very visceral outcome?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda ~lilacsandliterature

    This was an amazing read that covered so many topics - a terrible crime, mental illness, incarceration, humanity and dignity. It was an inspiring read about those who put time into the right causes and look beyond statistics and numbers to the person behind bars. It opened such a great conversation about how we treat the mentally ill (in a “reactive not proactive way”) and the importance of competent doctors, lawyers, and law enforcement that should be working together, not against each other.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate (reeder_reads)

    I read this book for a quarterly nonfiction book club I’m a part of, but I was familiar with the story from This American Life. Overall, it was an informative narrative nonfiction read that I would recommend if you’re interested in prison reform, prison abolition and mental health in the United States. I think this book would have benefited from some tightening (the author was on his soap box a little too often) and editing. Still, it’s a moving story and a sad look at mental health care in the I read this book for a quarterly nonfiction book club I’m a part of, but I was familiar with the story from This American Life. Overall, it was an informative narrative nonfiction read that I would recommend if you’re interested in prison reform, prison abolition and mental health in the United States. I think this book would have benefited from some tightening (the author was on his soap box a little too often) and editing. Still, it’s a moving story and a sad look at mental health care in the US prison system.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    Holy moly

  20. 4 out of 5

    The Romance Book Disciple (Samantha)

    The Other Dr. Gilmer is part medical mystery part social justice story. At first, I was not sure where Benjamin Gilmer was going with the story. He is paranoid about Vince Gilmer for sure, but then, with the help of Sarah Koenig, he begins to dive into what happened to the other Dr. Gilmer. The story takes a very grizzly murder and turns it into a story of the mental health needs of prisoners. Gilmer does a great job of explaining Huntingtons to the reader and also correlating the various s The Other Dr. Gilmer is part medical mystery part social justice story. At first, I was not sure where Benjamin Gilmer was going with the story. He is paranoid about Vince Gilmer for sure, but then, with the help of Sarah Koenig, he begins to dive into what happened to the other Dr. Gilmer. The story takes a very grizzly murder and turns it into a story of the mental health needs of prisoners. Gilmer does a great job of explaining Huntingtons to the reader and also correlating the various symptoms to events in Vince Gilmer's life. By the end of the story, you will be ready to write a letter to the governor advocating changes in the way the justice system treats people with not only mental illness, but with medical conditions that affect the brain. Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson, The Emergency by Thomas Fischer, ...then you will probably like The Other Dr. Gilmer! The Other Dr. Gilmer   See full review on The Book Disciple

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fishface

    Just an excellent read about a curious coincidence that turned into much, much more. Well written, hard to put down. There was medical material in here but it was delivered in plain English. Moving and hard to put aside. A lot of this story shocked me to the core. Don't miss this one. Just an excellent read about a curious coincidence that turned into much, much more. Well written, hard to put down. There was medical material in here but it was delivered in plain English. Moving and hard to put aside. A lot of this story shocked me to the core. Don't miss this one.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This is one of those books that makes you hyper aware of yet another overwhelming foundational and institutional problem in America. I was equally inspired and saddened by this story which shines a light on the prevalence of mental illness in the for-profit (lest we forget) American prison scheme. America houses 25% of the world's incarcerated population, a third of which are mentally ill. This book implores us to look within ourselves to find humanity and revive our sense of community, bearing This is one of those books that makes you hyper aware of yet another overwhelming foundational and institutional problem in America. I was equally inspired and saddened by this story which shines a light on the prevalence of mental illness in the for-profit (lest we forget) American prison scheme. America houses 25% of the world's incarcerated population, a third of which are mentally ill. This book implores us to look within ourselves to find humanity and revive our sense of community, bearing in mind that we're all united by fallibility. Sigh.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bev Schuller

    I’m so glad I read this book. It is frustrating and heartbreaking and the sadness and injustice made me cry.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julie Harding

    Fascinating and terrifying. A combination of Brain On fire and Just Mercy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shadira

    Fresh out of medical residency, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic only to find that its previous doctor shared his last name. Dr. Vince Gilmer was loved and respected by the community—right up until he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular week of work. Vince’s eventual arrest for murder shocked his patients. How could their beloved doctor be capable of such violence? The deeper Benjamin looked into Vince’s case, the more he became obses Fresh out of medical residency, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer joined a rural North Carolina clinic only to find that its previous doctor shared his last name. Dr. Vince Gilmer was loved and respected by the community—right up until he strangled his ailing father and then returned to the clinic for a regular week of work. Vince’s eventual arrest for murder shocked his patients. How could their beloved doctor be capable of such violence? The deeper Benjamin looked into Vince’s case, the more he became obsessed with discovering what pushed a good man toward darkness. When Benjamin visited Vince in prison, he met a man who appeared to be fighting his own mind, constantly twitching and veering into nonsensical tangents. Sentenced to life in prison, Vince had been branded a cold-blooded killer and a “malingerer”—a person who fakes an illness. But it was obvious to Benjamin that Vince needed help. Alongside This American Life journalist Sarah Koenig, Benjamin resolved to understand what had happened to his predecessor. Time and again, the pair came up against a prison system that cared little about the mental health of its inmates—despite more than a third of them suffering from mental illness. The Other Dr. Gilmer takes readers on a riveting and heart-wrenching journey through our shared human fallibility, made worse by a prison system that is failing our most vulnerable citizens. With deep compassion and an even deeper sense of justice, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer delves into the mystery of what could make a caring doctor commit a brutal murder. And in the process, his powerful story asks us to answer a profound question: In a country with the highest incarceration rates in the world, what would it look like if we prioritized healing rather than punishment?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hailey

    4.5 ⭐️ I have to admit when I saw this book in the “new to the library” section of my local branch’s website, I was only drawn to the book because of the name(I too know a special Gilmer in the medical field), but when I read the synopsis I knew “The Other Dr. Gilmer” was something special. As someone who is very interested in true-crime, justice reform, mental health advocacy and the general compassion of everyday people, this story really hit the mark. I have so much to say about this book and 4.5 ⭐️ I have to admit when I saw this book in the “new to the library” section of my local branch’s website, I was only drawn to the book because of the name(I too know a special Gilmer in the medical field), but when I read the synopsis I knew “The Other Dr. Gilmer” was something special. As someone who is very interested in true-crime, justice reform, mental health advocacy and the general compassion of everyday people, this story really hit the mark. I have so much to say about this book and it’s subject matter, I don’t even know where to begin a proper review. That being said, I am grateful to this author for this book, and his life’s work in medicine and advocacy for someone who was wronged by a broken mental health and criminal justice system.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Orlopp

    Outstanding memoir about two doctors with the same last name. One is in prison for killing his father although all of his patients describe him as an amazing, caring doctor who spent time getting to know them and help them. The book exposes the potential dangers of long term use of anti-depressants as well as the horrific conditions in prison for those who have mental health concerns. It also demonstrates how one person can make a difference. Dr. Benjamin Gilmer focused on getting to know Dr. Vinc Outstanding memoir about two doctors with the same last name. One is in prison for killing his father although all of his patients describe him as an amazing, caring doctor who spent time getting to know them and help them. The book exposes the potential dangers of long term use of anti-depressants as well as the horrific conditions in prison for those who have mental health concerns. It also demonstrates how one person can make a difference. Dr. Benjamin Gilmer focused on getting to know Dr. Vince Gilmer and became a staunch advocate for change in prisons and for justice for Dr. Vince Gilmer. Highly recommend!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I wish that I had a personal defender as the author is to Dr Gilmer. The authors devotion to knowing the facts, knowing the details, and his sense of wonderment at Dr Gilmers cause/crime is most notable. We follow Dr Benjamin Gilmer from the interview in the small town to the stunning NON CONCLUSION (I will get into this in a minute) of the story. I was transfixed by the story, I had never heard about it, and I was stunned. Dr VINCE Gilmer (the OTHER Dr Gilmer) picked up his elderly father from a I wish that I had a personal defender as the author is to Dr Gilmer. The authors devotion to knowing the facts, knowing the details, and his sense of wonderment at Dr Gilmers cause/crime is most notable. We follow Dr Benjamin Gilmer from the interview in the small town to the stunning NON CONCLUSION (I will get into this in a minute) of the story. I was transfixed by the story, I had never heard about it, and I was stunned. Dr VINCE Gilmer (the OTHER Dr Gilmer) picked up his elderly father from assisted living and while driving around, strangled him and cut off all of his fingers. Dr Vince Gilmer then calmly went on to work for the next few days before being arrested for the murder of his father. The author, also a Doctor, also a Gilmer, but no relation, steps into the vacant position left by Dr Vince Gilmer. As he begins to learn more about Dr Vince Gilmer and the crime, the more he realizes that something is NOT right. The author delves into a possible MEDICAL reason for Dr Vince Gilmer killing his father, with that medical reason in hand, the author tries to get Dr Vince Gilmer's conviction overturned or to get clemency. Throughout the book, I just kept returning to Dr Vince Gilmore calmly returning to his practice, throwing away his dead fathers fingers into the Koi pond and seeing patients until he was arrested. Can this medical condition explain that away? I am still not convinced. However, the author is convinced that because of this medical condition that Dr Vince Gilmer may have, it can explain the murder. The author does so much for Dr Vince Gilmer that it is so admirable, I couldn't help but root for him. Alas, the end of the book is deeply unsettled. SPOILER ALERT: The pleas for clemency are denied and Dr Vince Gilmore remains in prison. The book really unfolds between the unknown, the knowing of the medical condition and the fight for justice. It was well thought out and a wonderful read. Thank you to Netgalley and to the publisher for allowing me this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    MUST READ

  30. 4 out of 5

    Louise Hindal

    An easy, interesting read. I enjoyed the pacing and the seeming plot twist. It did feel like an episode of House in the middle. I also found thinking about the morality of crime during episodes of mental illness interesting. Something I hadn’t spent much time thinking about before. Personally, it was cool to read this because I recognized so many of the Asheville-area places, restaurants, and even some of the people. To me, it did feel like there were some cliche moments along the way, but they di An easy, interesting read. I enjoyed the pacing and the seeming plot twist. It did feel like an episode of House in the middle. I also found thinking about the morality of crime during episodes of mental illness interesting. Something I hadn’t spent much time thinking about before. Personally, it was cool to read this because I recognized so many of the Asheville-area places, restaurants, and even some of the people. To me, it did feel like there were some cliche moments along the way, but they didn’t last too long.

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