In the tradition of Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind , Acquainted with the Night is a powerful memoir of one man’s struggle to deal with the adolescent depression and bipolar disorder of his son and his daughter.
Seven years ago Paul Raeburn’s son, Alex, eleven, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after leaving his fifth-grade classroom in an inexplicable rage. He was hospitalized three times over the next three years until he was finally diagnosed by a psychiatrist as someone exhibiting a clear-cut case of bipolar disorder. This ended a painful period of misdiagnosis and inappropriate drug therapy. Then Raeburn’s younger daughter, Alicia, twelve, was diagnosed as suffering from depression after episodes of self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts. She too was repeatedly admitted to psychiatric hospitals. All during this terrible, painful time, Raeburn’s marriage was disintegrating, and he had to ask what he and his wife might have done, unwittingly, to contribute to their children’s mental illness. And so, literally to save his children’s lives, he used all the resources available to him as a science reporter and writer to educate himself on their diseases and the various drugs and therapies available to help them return from a land of inner torment.
In Paul Raeburn’s skilled hands, this memoir of a family stricken with the pain of depression and mania becomes a cathartic story that any reader can share, even as parents unlucky enough to be in a similar position will find it of immeasurable practical value in their own struggles with the child psychiatry establishment.
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|Title of eBook: Acquainted with the Night: A Parent's Quest to Understand Depression and Bipolar Disorder in His Children|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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|Parent title||Acquainted with the...|
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Acquainted with the Night: A Parent's Quest to Understand Depression and Bipolar Disorder in His Children
Chapter OneIt is the spring of 1996, after Alex's first hospitalization. He is 11 years old and in the fifth grade. He has left the hospital with no diagnosis. No one has told us what treatment he needs, or how we should proceed. He and his teacher, with whom he'd begun the year in an uneasy standoff, are now openly at war. It was Alex's sometimes rambunctious behavior in class, talking out of turn and cracking jokes at the wrong times, that had initially put her on guard. But it is his explosive emotional outbursts, which now occur once or twice a week, that have long since depleted her patience. Despite the hospitalization, the examinations, and the tests, we have no idea what is causing these emotional storms. Neither does Alex, who is as puzzled by his behavior as we are. His teacher isn't puzzled, however. She thinks she knows exactly what is going on. Alex is bent on attacking her, and all this talk about psychiatric problems is nonsense. He is simply a bad kid, who time and again has interfered with what she is trying to accomplish in class. She wants him out of there, but it is a small school, with only one fifth-grade class, and there is nowhere for him to go. She makes no secret of her distaste. Alex sees it as clearly as we do.
The outbursts are becoming more common at home, too. Liz and I know that he needs help, that the hospitalization was a failure, but we have no idea what to do. I am inclined to respond with ever stiffer punishment. We might not understand what is going on inside him, but if we're tough, we can control this behavior. Sometimes Liz agrees, and sometimes she doesn't. I can't pin her down on a plan of action. We a...