monysmom, May 20, 2007 (view all comments by monysmom)
I just finished reading this book and found it to be very powerful. Now a grown-up, Julie goes back to her childhood and describes what is was like to live with a mentally ill, manipulative mother who suffered from Munchausen by Proxy. Julie detail her memories of all the medical procedures she underwent needlessly and how her mother manipulated her child to be an unwilling but necessary partner. Only when Julie grew up and escaped was she able to fully accept what it was like to be a victim of Munchausen by Proxy. I was just sorry the book had to end, I would have liked to have learned more about how Julie's life turned out, and that of her family.
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Bonneville, January 17, 2007 (view all comments by Bonneville)
...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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Brian Morgan, May 2, 2006 (view all comments by Brian Morgan)
Further to my earlier comment: Random House now admit there are factual errors in Sickened: "We will make appropriate correction to the text in the next printing of Sickened to address those facts about your family history that you have shown to be incorrect.", they say in a letter to Sandy Gregory-Parocai dated 26th April 2006.
However, they do not accept responsibility for the factual errors, saying: " ... it is important to recognize that Julie did not invent any of these facts. She learned them from the stories you repeatedly told her during your childhood. If she got any of these facts wrong about your family history, your mother, her husbands, your early years, and the circumstances and incidents in your first marriage, it is because you provided the information to her in the first place."
And additionally the letter says: "... that there are errors in Julie?s retelling of your family history in no way detracts from the accuracy of Julie?s memoir of her own life and experiences."
Is it ironic perhaps, that a book which is all about allegations of fabrication by the mother simply repeats what she is alleged to have told the daughter about her family history, without saying that's what it was, or checking against documentary evidence (as I did with the full co-operation of the mother and none from the daughter and publisher)?
The letter concludes: "... we remain confident that the story she tells in Sickened is a true and honest portrayal of her childhood."
I personally would say watch this space, since documents from a further tranche of investigation have yet to be collated and sent to Random House. They may not so easily be dismissed.
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Brian Morgan, April 20, 2006 (view all comments by Brian Morgan)
There are major problems with Sickened. Early stages of fact checking show there are fabricated passages, as there were in James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. See msbp.co.uk
These has been referred to the publishers Random House who say this is now a legal matter.
The author is not a graduate in psychiatry either.
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by Kirkus Reviews,
?A painful but wonderfully written memoir that should create greater awareness of a bizarre disorder? Keen self-awareness, a sharp eye for details, and an original, poetic voice.?
by Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight,
?Like some Diane Arbus photograph come to life, Julie Gregory's Sickened offers us a portrait of quintessential American Disturbos in all their tender, heinous can't-look-and-can't-look-away glory. A miraculous book by a woman whose very survival is itself a miracle.?
by Ann Magnuson, actress, singer, writer,
?Set in a southern-culture-on-the-skids world reminiscent of J.T. Leroy, Sickened is written with a lyrical directness that is both riveting and horrific. Julie Gregory reminds us that those who find the courage to slay the dragons of their past and stop the cycle of abuse are the true heroes of the world.?
by Alan Cohen, author of I Had It All the Time,
"A stunning account by a courageous woman who journeyed from the depths of hell to reclaim her own power and worth. Julie Gregory casts an extraordinary beacon of healing. You will be hearing a lot about this one.?
by Chris Monaco, Ph.D., Director, Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline,
"Gripping self-disclosure by a remarkable young woman . . . Sickened will surely and finally impact the proper diagnosis and treatment of children caught in the terror of MBP."
In this fierce and lyrical memoir, Gregory takes readers inside the hidden world of child abuse called Munchausen by Proxy--with a power rivaling "Girl, Interrupted" and "A Child Called "It."
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