Synopses & Reviews
A young girl is perched on the cold chrome of yet another doctors examining table, missing yet another day of school. Just twelve, shes tall, skinny, and weak. Its four oclock, and she hasnt been allowed to eat anything all day. Her mother, on the other hand, seems curiously excited. She's about to suggest open-heart surgery on her child to "get to the bottom of this." She checks her teeth for lipstick and, as the doctor enters, shoots the girl a warning glance. This child will not ruin her plans.
As a child, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother's mind. Her mother a former carnival cowgirl invented or caused symptoms, starved her, and shuffled her from doctor to doctor, reveling in hospital visits and the attention of medical professionals. Her goal: open heart surgery for Julie to "get to the bottom of this." Many victims of Munchausen by proxy die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman. Punctuated with Julie's genuine medical records, Sickened evokes the parallel universe she inhabited in prose of scathing beauty and dark humor. Isolated in their double-wide trailer, her bizarre pastel-clad, church-going, gun-waving, child-abusing family is worthy of the fiction of Stephen King. But this is also a story of hope, of courageous understanding and deep compassion and the preservation of a woman's soul.
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. Kirkus Reviews
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. Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
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. Ann Magnuson, actress, singer, writer
"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. Alan Cohen, author of I Had It All the Time
"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." Chris Monaco, Ph.D., Director, Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline
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."
About the Author
Julie Gregory grew up in southern Ohio. She is now an expert writer and spokesperson on Munchausen by proxy and an advocate
in MBP cases. A graduate student in psychiatry at Sheffield University, England, she currently lives in the United States.