The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries

The Education of a Doctor

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Pub Date 23 May 2023 | Archive Date 06 Jun 2023


A doctor’s powerful and deeply human memoir about the mysteries of the brain and his 40-year quest to find a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Stephen L. Hauser is an acclaimed physician and neuroimmunologist who has spent his career performing cutting-edge research on multiple sclerosis (MS), a devastating brain disease that affects millions of people worldwide. His work has revolutionized our understanding of the genetics, immunology and treatment of MS, and led to the development of B cell therapies—the most effective therapy for all forms of MS and the only therapy currently in place for progressive MS patients.

The Face Laughs While The Brain Cries
is a riveting memoir that follows Dr. Hauser from his unorthodox upbringing among the colorful cast of characters responsible for his development into a tenacious and innovative researcher, to the life-changing medical breakthroughs he has made against extremely long odds. Along the way, readers will learn the incredible stories of many of his patients, whose bravery, strength, and optimism in the face of a debilitating illness were instrumental to the progress that has been made in the fight against MS. This heartwarming book, written in accessible prose and related with equal measures of humor, empathy, and excitement, is sure to inspire.

A doctor’s powerful and deeply human memoir about the mysteries of the brain and his 40-year quest to find a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Stephen L. Hauser is an acclaimed physician and...

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Average rating from 35 members

Featured Reviews

Brains are mysterious things, as is Multiple Sclerosis, the basis of this doctor's book.

MS has been more prevalent in the media as it has come out that Selma Blair and Christina Applegate both have the disease. I actually google "Celebrities with MS" and they are not alone. Who else has it? Terri Garr, Ann Romney, Jack Osborne, Trevor Baine, Tamia Hill, Noah '40' Shebib, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Montel Williams, and CNN's John King. (Okay, I don't know who they all are, but maybe you do!)

I would not call this a casual read, but I would call it an excellent read. I would recommend it more for book clubs and people into the medical genre. Well written, accessible and utterly fascinating...that's why it is worthy of 5 stars.


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The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries by Stephen Hauser, M.D. is an excellent, well written book by an extremely intelligent, honest and helpful doctor.
I would bet this book would be extremely helpful to those in the medical field, those whom have Multiple Sclerosis and are wanting to learn and know more.
This was very informative and easy to read. And if I’m being honest I found it fascinating.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Thank You Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this eARC!.

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While I tend not to make resolutions, I do like to set goals at the beginning of a new year. This year, my goal was to venture out of my comfort genre. My friends St. Martin’s Press have helped me along the way by sending me some new memoirs. First up is this intriguing one from Stephen L. Hauser M.D. Interesting and technical, yet accessible, this read is one that should be on your shelves.

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Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries!

This memoir tells the story of Dr. Stephen Hauser, the neuroimmunologist credited with developing B cell therapies to treat MS. His experience provides an inside perspective of the medical industry, from clinical studies to funding for developing treatments. I found it especially interesting, albeit frustrating, to learn about the road blocks they faced in pursuing B cell therapy as a treatment -- first because it challenged preconceived ideas about MS, then later because it cut into pharmaceutical profits.

All things considered, Dr. Hauser’s story paints a vivid picture of the history of MS and the pursuit of a cure. MS is a heartbreaking, devastating disease, one that hits close to home, but his work gives me hope for the future for those struggling with MS.

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Interesting read. It’s always a new world learning things and this book was an experience of awakening.

While I found it a great read, it’s not a book for everyone.

Thanks so much NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC!

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I predominantly read fiction, but do expand to nonfiction when I see something that interests me. Dr. Hauser’s memoir was well written and flowed with a genuine ease. It not only talked about his personal experience, but also the patients he worked closely with to learn more about this disease itself as well as potential treatment options. Thank you for sharing your story, Dr. Hauser

This was by no means a light read, but I would highly recommend for someone looking to learn more about the topic of Multiple Sclerosis in a very accessible, highly educational form.

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The Face Laughs While The Brain Cries
The Education of a Doctor
Author: Stephen L. Hauser, M. D.
Pub Date: May 23, 2023

Thank you to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for the #gifted copy of this book.

After reading this book I have had the chance to reflect about how thankful I am for people like Dr. Stephen Hauser. The perseverance and drive over his lifetime is why people are able to prolong life! He is truly one of God’s gifts.

This book is a memoir of his life and journey to become one of the worlds leaders in MS research. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects so many people yet for so many years we have had so few answers. Dr. Hauser spends his entire life dedicated to trying to understand MS, whether it is caused by a virus or hereditary or environmental. He describes his personal journey, some patients individual stories, the trials, tribulations, setbacks, and wins!

I’m forever amazed by powerful our brains really are and how dedication by so many relentless and talented people make a difference in science. Thank you for sharing your story and for all of your hard work!

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This book was pretty heavy but I found it also fascinating and written by an incredibly talented and smart man. This memoir of his journey to becoming a leader in MS research was fascinating. Hearing his personal stories, from patients, the difficulties and the wins, while the top was hard I think it was beautifully written and I commend this doctor for his lifelong work. It's because of people like himself that MS patients can have hope for a better future. Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martins Press for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Part medical mystery, part autobiography, The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries is the story of multiple sclerosis (MS) and the physician-scientist determined to cure it. Even if you have no background in the sciences or a connection to the disease, this book is a compelling, engaging read.

From his childhood memories to career highlights, Dr. Hauser explains how he became interested in MS, the highs and lows of his research, and how complicated it is to bring new drugs to market. He takes us from patients’ bedsides to his laboratory, following clues of how MS affects the body and brain. Besides his medical investigations, Hauser also explores the issues of animal research, blind studies, and even the politics of which diseases and studies receive funding. Throughout, this book expresses Dr. Hauser’s compassion and dedication, the gold standard of medicine.

Prerelease book provided by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for review consideration.

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I really enjoyed learning about the process that Dr Hauser went through to search for a cure to MS. It was hard for him to accomplish. anything when he had to convince the other doctors as well as the government agencies about his new discoveries. Considering the topic, it was easy to read. I liked the doctor's writing style.

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I’m not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it. It was so much more lovely than I imagined. This book is a beautiful mix of memoir and medical science. The science is explained well enough for the average reader to understand, and the memoir part of it not only brings the science to life but brings the narrator to life. Dr. Hauser lets the reader in on why he became interested in neurology and how his interest in medicine began, reasons that remain with him throughout his career. Very fascinating read!

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Autoimmunity. Monoclonal anitbodies. CD20. B cells. T cells. Research facilities. Medical scientists. Why does any of this matter?

In The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries, Dr. Stephen Hauser takes the reader with him through his journey getting his medical degree and then into a new world of medical research. Early in his medical career he becomes fixated on MS and the myriad ways it presents in different patients, what causes this devastating disease, and what treatment can he offer to his patients.

While he writes about his research from around the world, he does so using language that even those without medical backgrounds can understand and follow. He opens the world of clinical trials, FDA approval, and the eve elusive funding for new medicine, showing the good, the bad, and the frightening. Through it all, Dr. Hauser never loses touch with the patients and how all of these things affect their lives.

Even readers who have only a slight interest in what goes on when searching for treatment for diseases will find this book fascinating, just as I did.

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Pseudobulbar palsy is a sign that something is haywire in the brain. It is a condition where the individual may have difficulty eating and swallowing, speaking, display inappropriate emotion such as laughter or facial expressions, or uncontrollable crying. Dr. Steven Hauser uses an interesting term for it when he titles his book: The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries: The Education of a Doctor These are not the only symptoms of multiple sclerosis, of course. Loss of vision, facial or muscle weakness, pain, or tingling, gait issues, and cognitive issues, among others, can also occur. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They affect more women than men and the age of onset tends to be between the ages of 20 and 40. Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable autoimmune disease affecting the myelin of the central nervous system. There is no cure; however, in this book, Dr. Hauser accounts his quest for an effective treatment for this debilitating disease. This is a story of hard work, of trial and effort, of human compassion, and of triumph. Congratulations and many, many thanks!

Hauser did not set out to make MS the focus of his life’s work. As a child, he began life in the South, but later moved to New York. One of his brothers, Howard, was severely mentally and physically disabled. Howard died as a child. Sadly, too, a close friend of Stephen’s died of brain cancer. Both these childhood experiences had a profound effect on Stephen. At one time, Stephen wanted to dedicate his career to solving the mystery of mental retardation. A mentor told him, however, to find something he could fix. He was fascinated with the brain and nervous system, and when he met a patient with very severe MS symptoms, he knew what direction he wanted his career path to take. That didn’t mean he stopped caring about those with mental challenges. He continued that work as well in his “spare” time.

After graduating Harvard Medical School in 1975, it was on to residency, internship, and finally, a full-fledged neurologist, all in the Boston area. During this time, he and other colleagues had begun drug trials. He discusses his concerns about the ethics of using placebos in some cases, because that means that patients are not receiving medication for their disease during the duration of the trial. He also expressed reservations about using primates for his studies, as they are so closely related to humans. Oh, and during this time, he also met Elizabeth, whom he married.

In 1989, his former chief form Massachusetts General, who was now the dean of the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, called him to offer him a position. While hesitant to leave the East Coast, he and Elizabeth moved with their three young children to California. The entire family loved their new environment. Life was good.

Challenges in the research continued. Funding, approval, B cells, T cells, rituximab, ocrelizumab…there were setbacks, even deaths. Through the death due to Parkinson’s of his grandfather, he had first-hand experience listening to the needs of patient, not the treating the illness, which he seemed to always do anyway, but when it’s one’s own family, it’s hard to keep emotions out of the equation. But he somehow managed to allow his cherished grandfather die with dignity. I really felt that this is how he believes all patients deserve to be treated, that he tries to see through the patient’s eyes. The research was important. Finding the answer was important, not for itself, but for a better life for each patient with multiple sclerosis.

The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries does contain medical information that may not be fully understood by laypersons (I believe the author has simplified it to the best of his ability.) I have some experience working with medical professionals, and while I did not understand the fine details, I got the gist of it. I didn’t feel that understanding every word is not necessary to appreciate this book. Dr. Hauser comes across as an extremely dedicated, caring, intelligent, highly experienced professional. Thanks for a fascinating look at a marvelous journey toward solving the mystery of MS in your life and career, Dr. Hauser. My thanks also to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a digital copy in exchange for my unbiased review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

5 stars

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The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries is a very well written memoir of Dr. Stephen Hauser who spent his life studying Multiple Sclerosis. The book not only tells of his many years of studying the disease, but also tells of patients he worked with and possible treatment options that were tried. This was very interesting even though I am not in the medical field and don’t understand all that he wrote about. The book flowed well and I did learn a lot as well as enjoying my reading.
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this advanced e-book. Release date is May 23, 2023.

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Dr. Stephen Hauser is a doctor and scientist who has devoted much of his career to the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. This memoir covers his entire life, career motivations and the clinical trials that lead to an affective treatment for MS. I enjoy memoirs from medical doctors because I know from the experience of having a child with medical issues that a good doctor makes all the difference. Dr. Hauser’s early life experience losing a brother who suffered from neurological damage has inspired him to better care for his patients and their treatment. The book does at times get technical but it is all interesting and the personal anecdotes break up the narrative before it ever gets boring.

I received a digital Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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Both a memoir and a well written accessible look at multiple sclerosis, its causes, symptoms, and treatment. Hauser isn't afraid to poke fun at himself nor is he shy about trumpeting his success but this is fascinating. Thanks to Netgalley for the ArC. A very good read.

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This is a glorious work - a poignant memoir, a meditation on the role of medical professionals and their unique responsibilities and profound impact they can have with regard to their patient interactions, and a scientific history of neurobiology and our understanding of how disease and brain can intersect.

Highly recommend - Hauser is an entertaining storyteller whose writing here is very accessible.

Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin's Press, and to NetGalley for the ARC!

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Thank you, Dr. Hauser. This book means so much to me. Knowing that you’ve accomplished so much with MS research and treatments over the past 45+ years has given me closure.

MS was a huge part of my life until age 30. My mother was diagnosed with MS right before she had me at age 27. My stepfather was also diagnosed around the same age (though he was older than her.) They had progressive MS all throughout the 80s-00s. He died in a nursing home at age 55, she died suddenly in the hospital at age 57. I was the caretaker since I was 16, though I helped my mom with many mobility issues since childhood. As a young child I just accepted my mom was different in some ways, but I was also so mad that the disease progressed at a steady rate over 30 years. I knew when they were bedridden that no meds would bring them back, but I’m delighted for those who are able to push off symptoms indefinitely through new meds that keep developing. Thank goodness.

Since the 70s, Dr. Hauser has devoted his life’s work to the cause and cure of this devastating autoimmune illness. This book explains his neurological studies quite well for the average reader. It does help if you have a general understanding of the disease if you don’t typically read medical books. I was especially engrossed by the cases he delved into. Did I compare a lot to my own life? Well, of course. But again, reading about all the symptoms and internal neurological scarring made me feel not so alone. There is no doubt this was my parents disease.

Dr. Hauser is very professional, but you can see these patients have touched his heart. He worked tirelessly to push for new clinical trials and studies, and it’s just so good to know he was fighting for MS patients behind-the-scenes for all these decades. MS wasn’t talked about very much until the last 10 years. I am grateful that doctors like him are still fighting. Additionally, his youth leading into adulthood was very interesting. I’m glad he included those vignettes and background, especially about his younger ill brother.

Lastly, the title affected me because my mom had helpless laughing fits towards the end of her life - the pseudobulbar effect. And she would say, “If I don’t laugh, I’ll just cry.”

Thank you NetGalley and St Martin’s Press for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Fascinating look at the authors journey to find a cure of Ms his decision to become a doctor his research into the disease.Dr.Hauser has a warm style of writing explaining to someone like me with no scientific background the ailment known as ms and his and other patients case study.A truly excellent read.#netgalley #st.martinspress

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What drives a person to pursue a specific career path?

The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries is a memoir showing us how life circumstances led a young man to become a neuroimmunologist hyper-focused on figuring out the causes of and treatments for MS.

The writing style is conversational and easy to follow. The mix of personal and medical information provides an engaging flow to the author’s story.

This memoir would be of interest to anyone living with MS, as well as readers intrigued by medical research and those who simply enjoy a good memoir.

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As a former medical writer, I snap up healthcare memoirs as soon as I learn of them, and I'm so glad I did with THE FACE LAUGHS WHILE THE BRAIN CRIES.

It is a brilliant, poignant, inspiring, and informative look at the education and career of Stephen L. Hauser, M.D. -- one of the world leaders in multiple sclerosis (MS) research.

Readers without a medical background will find this book fascinating too, as Dr. Hauser explains the science clearly and writes beautifully about patients' stories and his own life.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves medical memoirs or gorgeously written accounts of science, research, the patients saved, and those whose lives are dedicated to saving them.

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I loved this book. Dr. Hauser has written about MS as if he were writing a novel. Parts of it were impossible to put down. Dr. Hauser leads us through his medical life and how he came to know that trying to find the cause of MS became his passion. I learned so much about not only MS, but about medicine, about the good doctors, and what it takes to stay the course.
I highly recommend this book

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The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries was a very interesting and informative read. It was part autobiographical and part medical research into the mysterious disease known as Multiple Sclerosis. The author nicely weaved both parts together. It was wonderfully written in layman’s terms. You could feel the excitement as the author’s research took on promising discoveries and eventually breakthrough results. I applaud Dr. Hauser for wanting to get to the heart of MS with such determination in order to help those living with this life altering disease, including myself.

Overall, I found the research behind the breakthroughs very encouraging. Hopefully, one day with scientists like this author, a cure for MS will be found.

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This is an exceptional book. Part memoir, part detective story, part science - it’s the story of Dr. Hauser’s and colleagues around the world to understand multiple scenarios and find a medication that is effective.

The book reads almost like a novel; the writing is that good. I could barely put it down as I learned about MS and how medications are developed and tested. I recommend this book to anyone who has MS, knows someone who has it, or someone, like me, who has an inquiring mind and an interest in science and medicine.

Many physicians don’t write very well for the lay audience. Dr. Hauser does, and I commend him for his quest and his ability to keep this reader, at least, very interested.

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.

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This book has a “split personality”. Portions of the book cover the author’s biography - his family life, schooling, friends, meeting his future wife and their life together including his children. Those parts of the book are pleasant and easily understood. The medical science portions where the author describes his work to understand MS and how it develops and behaves and then goes on to explain the development of several medicines and procedures to treat MS was much more challenging for me.

I was interested in this book as I have family members who have struggled with MS. Unfortunately a significant portion of this book was so technical that I wasn’t able to always comprehend the details.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest voluntary review. In general I appreciated this book and the success that was achieved for treatment of MS.

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I really like when journalists writing book-length nonfiction because it reads like a long form news article and just sucks you in. Well, it appears the same may be true for (some!) doctors.

Dr. Stephen Hauser is an acclaimed physician and neuroimmunologist who has spent his 40+ year career researching multiple sclerosis. The title refers to the awful and ironic reality of many MS patients - often MS symptoms will manifest as inappropriate, outlandish behavior, even while the person remains aware of reality and unable to stop themselves. Literally, their face will laugh as their brain cries.

This book is part memoir and part case study. Dr. Hauser manages to make the science behind MS accessible and understandable - no small feat. You wouldn’t expect to find humor in a book about such a tough topic, but Dr. Hauser is quick to poke fun at himself, despite all that he has accomplished. The real gems - and heartbreak - of this book are the patient stories that Dr. Hauser shares as a vehicle to teach. What a truly horrific disease.

Despite the scientific subject matter, I never found myself bored while reading this book. If you’re looking to read more nonfiction but you’re worried about dry and dusty topics, definitely check this one out!

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Medical memoirs are such a beautiful way to remind those on the other side the triumphs and trials that those in the medical field endure and live through. Such an intimate reading as we journey through the life of Dr.Hauser and his relationships and connections with the patients who have MS. I don't know anyone personally who has been affected by MS but I am grateful for the insight and knowledge I gained by reading this book. It was a short read but definitely an intriguing and insightful one.

Thank you NetGalley and St.Martin's Press for the gifted copy.

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This memoir is mesmerizing. Beginning in his youth, Stephen Hauser recalls memories of family and it's fun reading especially about the family shoe business and bittersweet as he recalls a medical condition his brother has been diagnosed. He seamlessly writes about his college years and his fascination with autoimmune disease and becoming a doctor.

The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries is an approachable read regarding the work and patience it takes to come up with an alternative medication for MS. It's quite remarkable. I appreciate that this book didn't get bogged down in technical medical jargon.

As much as I enjoyed the medical aspect, the personal reflections on family brought this book to life.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advance copy.

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