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She's Not Herself: A…

She's Not Herself: A psychotherapist's journey into and beyond…

by Linda Appleman Shapiro

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182844,716 (4.6)None
On the surface, her childhood seemed normal--even idyllic. Linda grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda was told, "Your mother...she's not herself today." Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.She's Not Herself is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself--and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.… (more)



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When Linda Appleman Shapiro was a child, her mother would say and do things that confused and frightened her. In post-war Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, mental illness was rarely acknowledged, and doctors had little understanding of how to treat it. All Linda’s father would tell her was, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Linda grew up believing that she had no right to ask questions, that she should never cause trouble for anyone else—that she had to be perfect.

As a young adult, though, fears that she would become like her mother spurred Shapiro to examine her family’s story more closely. She grew to understand the trauma her mother endured as a child in Russia during World War I. With the assistance of therapy, Shapiro acknowledged what she had missed in her childhood, and she found the voice she had silence. She also developed great compassion for her mother. Ultimately, Shapiro decided to help other families by becoming a therapist herself.

There are few books that speak to the children of mentally ill parents as thoughtfully as this one does. Shapiro shows how trauma affects families through generations, yet she offers hope that things can change. But this book is about more than just Shapiro’s relationship with her mother: it explores Linda’s delight with school and learning; her experience with first love and her relationship with her husband; and her efforts to define herself through work and family. It evokes an iconic immigrant community in Brooklyn with colorful stories from a memorable era. She’s Not Herself is a beautiful coming-of-age story that has the immediacy of a child’s perspective and the wisdom of an adult’s. ( )
  amymerrick | Jun 3, 2015 |
This book is wonderful, I couldn't stop reading & talking about it with everyone I know!

It begins with Linda's childhood & her parent's histories and follows her & her family into adulthood. The story is compelling and touching, not to mention well-written & very thought provoking.

I also have a close family member who suffered mental illness during the 60's & on. I found myself with tears through most of the chapters wondering if this was how my father & his siblings had experienced childhood living with my mentally ill grandmother. It opened my eyes to many things I had never fully understood about my family before.

I think this is a book that everyone needs to read, even if you dont have mental health issues within your family this book gives you a better understanding of those that do & the importance of life choices.

I love this book! ( )
  cnj6226 | Dec 5, 2014 |
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