All in the Family

Mental Illness and Caregiving Across the Generations

And They Lived Happily Ever After?

Happy endings make for feel-good fiction. Yet memoirs with happy endings can send the wrong message. Read More

I have just bought it

I looked it up and it was not available on Kindle. However, now it is, and I have just bought it even though, as you may have noticed, I tend to disagree with your views. Even if that will remain the case after reading the book, I still value your first-hand experience.

thank you

Hi Monica:

Let's talk after you've read my memoir. I'm open to hearing your opinions. The more thought we all give to the problems associated with mental illness, the better.

I read your memoir

I think that, while it may very well be true that your daughter has some serious psychological issues, the fact is that, to a large extent, you are just medicalizing discipline and life choices. For a supposedly mentally ill person, she seems to be able to control herself pretty well when she really wants to. She seems resilient and she can make plans. She obviously did when she tried to meet her boyfriend du jour or talk to him behind your back.

I couldn’t believe how you were trying to reason with her when she was a disobedient young child (I do not mean a minor or a teenager) and to impose “natural consequences”. There is a time and place for that even for parents who are otherwise authoritarian. However, when a child is 4 or 8, for example, and actually likes, or pretends to like, your “natural consequences” and you are wondering what you can do to reach her and whether you can even raise her, that’s when the strap should have come out.

It’s not that you should have used such punishment all the time. It’s just that if you made her childhood self feel that you are in charge and that severe punishment is just around the corner, a few years down the road she wouldn’t even have dreamed of stealing cell phones or sneaking out of the house through her second-story window. That wouldn’t have cured all her issues such as her mood swings and sexual cravings but your life would have been easier and she would have tended to see you as an authority figure to this day. If your disciplinary style might be perfectly suitable for some children, she was not one of them.

your comments

Hi Monica:

Thanks for taking the time to read my memoir and for your thoughtful comments. In terms of medicalizing discipline and life choices, I can only point out that the diagnoses were made by psychiatrists and psychologists -- not me.

Your comment regarding "the strap" must be countered by research indicating that children raised with violence become violent. While my daughter suffers from serious mental illness, I don't believe she's violent.

Easy to blame things on disciplinary style. I believe it's more complex. For now, we can agree to disagree.

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Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D. is Endowed Chair and Professor of Medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Her memoir Surrounded by Madnessis available at online bookstores.


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