Dr. Waln Brown, Founder & CEO of the William Gladden Foundation, spent his adolescence in a series of out-of-home placements, including an orphanage, juvenile detention facility, state psychiatric hospital and reform school. A special education student who failed the 9th grade and graduated 187th in a class of 192 students, Waln earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. He has authored over 230 publications, including the books The Other Side of Delinquency (Rutgers University Press), The Abandonment of Delinquent Behavior: Promoting the Turnaround (Praeger Publishers) Why Some Children Succeed Despite the Odds (Praeger Publishers) and Growing Up in the Care of Strangers: The Experiences, Insights and Recommendations of Eleven Former Foster Kids (William Gladden Foundation Press). Prior to founding the William Gladden Foundation in 1983, Waln held positions with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the National Center for Juvenile Justice and the Sonia Shenkman Orthogenic School at the University of Chicago. Dr. Brown marries his personal experience of growing up in multiple placements and overcoming a difficult childhood with decades of researching and writing about the recovery process.
Saving the Schizo Kid: Reflections on Divorce, Mental Health and Recoveryby Waln Brown
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A lifetime ago, a fifteen-year-old boy finally surrendered to the war between his parents. The traumatized teenager wished only to die, to be relieved of the pain that ate at his heart and mind, and had done so for what seemed forever. Saddled with the mistaken belief that he had caused his parents' divorce and broken up his family, self-destruction ruled his emotions and behaviors, and altered his sense of reality.
In an attempt to fix the boy, his mother sought the aid of professionals, some of whom were good at their jobs – others not. None of them knew exactly how to help the boy, and he suffered further from their mistakes. Indeed, the ineptitude of some professionals nearly lost him forever.
I was that nearly-lost-forever boy.
For much of my adult life, I have tried to understand how the roles played by professionals, family and friends influenced my problems and my recovery. I share what I have learned from this personal odyssey in the pages of this book.
What I knew when I began writing this book nearly a decade ago, indeed, what I have learned from a lifetime of personal and professional experiences, is that mothers and fathers must realize how family dysfunction and divorce can traumatize their sons and daughters, and professionals must learn what is required to reclaim even the most damaged youth. I have tried to portray these issues in the story and then discuss them in the Epilogue.
To enhance the story and its message, I use the present tense to put readers inside my adolescent mind, an immature and fragmented brain. Anger, despair and self-loathing fuel my emotions and behaviors as my family falls irreversibly apart and my confused mind struggles desperately for understanding. Suicide seems the ultimate resolution, the black pit of depression my constant companion. I cling to the edge of reality, an existence devoid of meaning and joy, with seemingly nowhere to go but deeper and deeper down into the bowels of a living nightmare.
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