TOO DEEP FOR TEARS by Lucy with Jenny Spinoza & Rosette Spinoza Freeman


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What this Rashomon-like assessment of one woman's mental illness does is to prove everyone has a different perspective on the problem: immigrant mother Jenny, unwitting victim Rosette, and the five or six psychiatric commentators who haggle over the roots and meaning of Rosette's illness. Luckily, Jenny and Rosette have fascinating stories to relate, and there is just enough concurrence in the two accounts to allow readers their own interpretations. Jenny tells a horrific tale of chidhood in her native Romania: father's desertion, mother's resulting suicide, fending for herself from the age of twelve. At 16 she packed up her younger sister and followed their irresponsible father to Brazil, then subsequently to Paris. Impending Nazism forced her back to South America, this time with future husband Manuel Spinoza--an undependable dreamer like her father, it turned out. Divorce and emigration to the U.S. left her with a baby and the need to work to support them both: her beloved Rosette was placed in a childhood nursery for eight months, a devastating experience for the pair. By the time she was 13, intellectually and artistically gifted Rosette was becoming a truancy problem; to avoid reform school, Jenny sent her to a strict boarding school. Unable to cope, Rosette began the institutional round that was to imprison her for eight of the next 14 years and subject her to electroshock and insulin therapies. And the genesis of the problem? While the pros and cons of biologic and environmental causation theories are hurled back and forth here by the guest experts (was the strongly symbiotic nature of the mother-daughter relationship fruitful or harmful?), veteran psychology popularizer Freeman makes the point that ineffective institutions and inflexible staffs simply could not cope with the needs of one so young--surely a contributing factor in the escalation of illness. Even allowing for the implicit invitation to armchair psychologizing, this is a stirring, poignant account.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1980
Publisher: Hawthorn/Dutton