Daughters Of Madness

Daughters Of Madness

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by Susan Nathiel
     
 

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June was 9 years old when she came home from school and her schizophrenic mother met her at the door, angrily demanding to know, "Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?" In another family, Tess repeatedly saw her mother wait outside church then scream at family friends as the emerged, accusing them of spying on and plotting to kill her. Five-year-old

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Overview

June was 9 years old when she came home from school and her schizophrenic mother met her at the door, angrily demanding to know, "Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?" In another family, Tess repeatedly saw her mother wait outside church then scream at family friends as the emerged, accusing them of spying on and plotting to kill her. Five-year-old Tess and her 7-year-old brother would just cry, begging their mother to take them home as onlookers stared. These are just two of the stories gathered for this book as psychotherapist Nathiel conducted interviews. The children, now adults, grew up with mentally ill mothers at a time when mental illness was even more stigmatizing than it is today. They are what Nathiel calls "the daughters of madness," and their young lives were lived on shaky ground. "Telling someone that there's mental illness in your family, and watching the reaction is not for the faint-hearted," the therapist says, quoting another's research. But, she adds, "Telling them that it is your mother who is mentally ill certainly ups the ante." A veteran therapist with 35 years experience, Nathiel takes us into this traumatic world--with each of her chapters covering a major developmental period for the daughter of a mentally ill mother--and then explains how these now-adult daughters faced and coped with mental illness in their mothers.

While the stories of these daughters are central to the book, Nathiel also offers her professional insights into exactly how maternal impairment affects infants, children, and adolescents. Women, significantly more than men, are often diagnosed with serious mental illness after they become parents. So what effect does a mentally ill mother have on a growing child, teenager or adult daughter, who looks to her not only for the deepest and most abiding love, but also a sense of what the world is all about? Nathiel also makes accessible the latest research on interpersonal neurobiology, attachment, and the way a child's brain and mind develop in the contest of that relationship. Some of the major topics addressed include:

  • Feelings of guilt in the child - Is it my fault?
  • Keeping the secret
  • Role reversal - when child acts as parent
  • Fear of the same fate
  • Building resilience and accepting help
  • Insights from daughters of mothers who were schizophrenic, psychotic, severely depressed, paranoid, and personality-disordered.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Any book that helps us to understand the experiences of the mentally ill and their families is welcome, and Nathiel's is no exception. She has produced a useful study which is well written with clearly presented information that is accessible to mental health practitioners as well as those with mental health problems, their families and other caregivers." - Metapsychology Online Reviews

"[T]here has been little written about the experience of growing up with a parent living with a mental illness….Psychotherapist Susan Nathiel's new book, Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older With a Mentally Ill Mother makes an important contribution to the literature by providing a qualitative description of the experiences of 18 women growing up with a mother living with mental illness….Nathiel skillfully draws from her 35 years of clinical experience in working with families in describing psychological patterns clearly and vividly. This book would be helpful for all mental health professionals and trainees to further their understanding of this experience….Daughters of Madness provides a unique, insightful, and poignant look into the challenges common to life with a parent with a mental illness. The well-organized text makes an important contribution to the literature, and the qualitative approach yields rich findings." - PsycCRITIQUES

"Practitioner Nathiel lets her interviewees largely speak for themselves as they recount their horrific stories and the challenges they face. She notes that even though stigma has been reduced, the daughters experienced their trauma at a time when to have schizophrenia or bipolar disease in the family was socially unacceptable. She follows the effects of maternal mental illness from early childhood (Am I bad?) to middle childhood (Who am I?), and from the adolescent years to young adulthood and the fear of perpetuating illness in the daughters' own families. Nathiel includes the effects on fathers and other siblings as well as areas for further research. This is strong stuff, and frequently riveting." - SciTech Book News

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313080777
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/30/2007
Series:
Women's Psychology Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,219,298
File size:
322 KB

What People are saying about this

Victoria Secunda

"This is the most thoughtful, well-researched, and deeply moving book I have ever read on the effect upon daughters of mentally ill mothers. Susan Nathiel has an uncommon understanding of children's pre-verbal mental development and the degree to which a mother's emotional absence, unpredictability, or frightening behavior can permanently shape a daughter's world view. Written with extraordinary]gracefulness and balance, Daughters of Madness will be of immeasurable comfort to families of the mentally ill, and should be required reading for every student of psychology, general medicine, and law."

Victoria Secunda, author, When Madness Comes Home and When You And Your Mother Can't Be Friends

Victoria Secunda
"This is the most thoughtful, well-researched, and deeply moving book I have ever read on the effect upon daughters of mentally ill mothers. Susan Nathiel has an uncommon understanding of children's pre-verbal mental development and the degree to which a mother's emotional absence, unpredictability, or frightening behavior can permanently shape a daughter's world view. Written with extraordinary]gracefulness and balance, Daughters of Madness will be of immeasurable comfort to families of the mentally ill, and should be required reading for every student of psychology, general medicine, and law."

Joan Hedrick

"This book will do an immense service for families with mentally ill parents. Beautifully organized and framed by Nathiel's compassionate analysis and guidance for change, these compelling stories of daughters whose childhood sense of self was disrupted by the mental illness of their mothers make it clear how mental illness is a family disease. The daughters' struggles are moving, painful and yet ultimately hopeful. This book will go a long way toward changing our attitudes toward mental illness in women with children."

Joan Hedrick, Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life, Charles P. Dana Professor of History, Trinity College

Joan Hedrick
"This book will do an immense service for families with mentally ill parents. Beautifully organized and framed by Nathiel's compassionate analysis and guidance for change, these compelling stories of daughters whose childhood sense of self was disrupted by the mental illness of their mothers make it clear how mental illness is a family disease. The daughters' struggles are moving, painful and yet ultimately hopeful. This book will go a long way toward changing our attitudes toward mental illness in women with children."

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Meet the Author

Susan Nathiel is a psychotherapist treating individuals, couples and families. She has been in practice for more than 30 years, and has a special interest in helping families deal with problems. Nathiel is a Founding Member of the Connecticut Guild of Psychotherapists and Founding Member of the Center for Illness in Families.

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Daughters Of Madness 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well I was not looking for "immeasurable comfort". I needed to read the reality that I am not alone. As the daughter of a mother with a personality disorder I spent the majority of my childhood and much of my adulthood wondering if I was the problem since I was almost the only one seeing the hateful behavior and suffering the cruel, soul sucking treatment by my mom. When your mom seems perfect to the outside world while you are living with insanity on the inside, it can be desperately lonely. I have worked hard to get where I am today, healthier and stronger. Every little insight helps. Thank you for this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I read this book, I hoped that it would be of "immeasurable comfort," as the back cover suggests. Unfortunately, I could measure the comfort and the amount of comfort was limited. Since I have survived the same life as these women, I can say that I did not find it remarkable that these women survived their childhoods (though I feel deeply empathetic for what happened to them). Perhaps, from a truly psychological standpoint, it is remarkable. Though, I hoped for a story in which one person had not only survived but, had thrived, and done something truly remarkable not despite of it, but because of it. You will not get that from this book. This book might be a good psychology book (as I am not a psychologist I would not know). It accurately described how I felt when I was growing up. But if you look inside yourself, you can see how you felt without spending the exorbitant amount that this book cost. If you were raised by a schizophrenic mother and are looking to become anxiety stricken, depressed, or a drug addict, here is the book that will justify your actions. To clarify this for anyone that is wondering, I was raised by an un-medicated schizophrenic mother. And I am okay. If your mother was schizophrenic and you are wondering if you will be okay, do not read this book. You will be okay. Don't be ashamed to go see a psychologist. Your experiences are unique and unfortunately "normal" people will not understand. Do not read this book. I promise it will make you feel bad about yourself.