Archive for the Mental Health/Mental Illness Category

Sickened by Julie Gregory

Posted in Christine, Mental Health/Mental Illness, Non-Fiction on July 4, 2008 by muerta

Quite possibly the scariest book on child abuse that I have ever read.

“Sickened” is a story about Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBP) where a young girl is subjected to her mother’s persistent cries that her daughter is sick and the frequent doctor’s appointments and tests that the child must undergo.  However, the nature of the illness is that the parent deliberately injures or sickens the child so that the doctor’s think that something is wrong, and end up doing tests and surgeries that are completely unnecessary, often painful, and force the child into a position of complete submission and complacency to the abusing parent’s will.

The child trusts the parent that the medicine will make them better, when actually, the parent is making them sicker to maintain their dominance over child, family and doctors.

Julie is another candid writer.  Her description of her family history and life, her own emotions and physical pains, and her sudden realization of what was actually happening make for a great descriptive story about how her life was lived before doctor’s (and family and friends) realized that a parent could actually do this to a child.

The psychological makeup of her family is beyond frightening; her mother makes Mommy Dearest look tame but the book brings you inside how psychology and medicine need to work together.  It also effectively proves that child abuse is not just limited to physical beatings, but there is an emotional and mental aspect that more often is ignored than assisted.

Like Wasted, realize that the author does not spare words in describing what happened in her youth.  But as MBP is a frequently missed diagnosis and is most likely more prevalent than we realize, it is a great book for spreading awareness of the disease and helping the medical profession to recognize that “doctor shopping” may have a hidden meaning.

Wasted by Marya Hornbacher

Posted in Christine, Mental Health/Mental Illness, Non-Fiction on July 4, 2008 by muerta

I have read this book before, and rereading it, I picked up many things that I had missed during the first read.  This impressed me, as when rereading a book, I often put it down after a few pages because I think “oh, I read this already.”  This time I thought, “Oh, I remember this part” and was thankful.

Marya suffers first from Bulimia and then later from Anorexia Nervosa, and beautifully explains her transition between the diseases, her moments of success, and her moments of failure.  She writes of how these diseases develop, progress, and her own thoughts while she slowly starved herself to death.  She discusses all the typical topics– relationships with therapists, parents, friends, issues of abandonment, issues of consumerism, issues with death– but handles each in a unique way that helps you to truly understand how a person could simply say “I deny myself nurishment.”

She speaks of being scared, and to me, that strikes home the hardest as one deals with a physical or mental illness.  It is fear of the unknown that makes everything that much worse, and in anorexia, the sufferer knows the ultimate outcome of the disease- get better or die.  It opens the reader’s eyes to understanding that it’s not just as simple as “getting better,” but rather, defeating your own demons as well as the demons that surround you.

This book is not for the feint of heart.  She writes candidly.  But if you ever wondered or witnessed the progression of this disease (or any mental or physical disease), Marya narrates it well.  It is a good read for understanding how fear truly can dictate or life and actions.