WHAT HAPPENED TO MY MOTHER by Harry Edwards

WHAT HAPPENED TO MY MOTHER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A cautionary inspirational tale--centered on the mental collapse of the author's mother. Suddenly, 64-year-old Esther Katz, a recently retired phys ed teacher in the New York public schools, hitherto lively, sociable, and fun-loving, began to show symptoms of paranoia--hearing ""sound track"" noises pursuing her, charging that husband Sam was imprisoning her, that he had ""locked away"" their son Henry. In desperation, Henry and Sam put her in ""Chelsea Hospital"" (names of hospitals and doctots are fictitious)--""the Tiffany of mental hospitals""--where Henry noticed with disquiet that the patients' quarters were as shabby as the lobby was ornate. The elusive doctor-in-charge finally arrived at a diagnosis--contradicted, eventually, by the hospital records. The disorder was functional rather than organic; but ""to play it safe,"" Esther was to be treated with a strong tranquilizer as well as family therapy. The results of her 83-day stay: crushing depression; a broken ankle, the second day; bleeding because of constipation brought on by indifferent care; recommendation of electric shock and a nursing home; the complete failure of the therapy sessions--due to Esther's shattered consciousness, tremors, and restlessness. At last the Katzes moved her to another hospital where the officiating doctor removed the dangerous tranquilizer, prescribod a suitable anti-depressant, and told them (the author's main point): ""As far as psychiatry is concerned, the elderly are a profit-making institution. It's not fashionable to think of them as curable. . . it is fashionable to put them away, counseling and charging their families for them until they die."" Exposed to tho second hospital's ""milieu therapy,"" Esther began her recovery. Involving herself in others' lives, helping and encouraging, were her specialties; and first at the hospital, then at home--via a close friendship with a frail elderly nurse, via nutritional and special geriatric therapy--Esther became Esther once more. Overly emotive and simplistic, perhaps, but certainly disturbing.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1981
Publisher: Harper & Row