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Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory
Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood

Bonneville, January 17, 2007

...The book is a bit hard to digest in many ways. Admittedly, I was unable to put it down, and read the whole the night I bought it. Some things in it struck me as odd as I was reading it, and in between sections, I began checking online to see if there was anymore to certain ideas in it. More specifically:

There is a bit of controversy surrounding this book - The mother denies the allegations of abuse as listed in the book (as anyone most likely accused would, whether the allegations are true or false), and some items such as family background have reportedly been proven false. Whether this is deliberate falsification or "False Memory" or simply a rehashing of incorrect information given to the author has not been established.

Regarding the controversy (or truth search), however, some of it seems to be misdirected or poorly focused. I have read several "warnings" about the book stating that Julie Gregory is not a graduate in psychiatry. The 2003 edition of the book I have never claims such, simply states that she is a graduate student, not that she has graduated/has a degree in psychiatry. Though a large part of the undertaking of finding the whole truth seems creditable, some of it seems focused solely on discrediting Ms. Gregory, implying that she is the one with the disorder and in parts "misquoting" or rathering quoting out of context from her book, rather than "just the facts."

I didn't particularly find the medical records listed in the book as "evidence" entirely helpful, because the majority showed that the author was only being treated for signs of strep/tonsilitis, though repeatedly, in itself is not uncommon in children, where a child is susceptible to strep and the tonsils have not been removed after the first case of tonsilitis, meaning that if "surgery" isn't performed, the child may develop repeated cases of strep and tonsilitis. Someone who doesn't want this mildly invasive procedure done on a child may not realize that it is often a recurring illness, and may think that since the child has been repeatedly treated for such, that another cause may be behind the symptoms. Again, no extreme invasive procedures were reported other than a catheter to rule out heart problems, though while in itself may be traumatizing for a child, is not "hard evidence" of MBP.

Personally, having read a bit on Munchausen, but by no means an expert, having read some of the horror cases out there, if this is a true account, in someways the victim is very lucky, because many result in much more devasting trauma, usually the death of at least one child. Again, if this is a true account, I am not wishing worse treatment on anyone and am glad that Ms. Gregory did not have to endure any harsher treatment, just that it seemed odd that this seems to be a "definitive account of the norm" of MBP victims, when it seems fairly mild as far as the MBP side of it.

Again, if true, as for other physical/verbal/emotional abuse listed in the book, it is atrocious. No child should have to endure it, and Ms. Gregory did have a very unnatural and unhappy childhood. It would seem more accurate to tout the book as the memoir of a girl who gracefully and courageously survives an abusive childhood in all terms rather than exclusively MBP. My reasoning for this is that it is not focused solely on the effects of MBP but of the unhappy whole of the author's childhood.

In final statement, as a whole, the book is eloquently written, and if true, is an amazing account of a woman who survived being an abused child to bloom into an admirable woman of strength and a beacon of hope for others.
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