A mother chronicles the struggles of having a child with antisocial personality disorder.
Davidson explains that she wrote this book, her first, “mainly to tell other parents about my experiences, hoping to guide them in finding solutions to this intricate, tangled and heart breaking mess of a psychological disease.” The story, indeed, focuses on Davidson’s own experiences, beginning with her tranquil childhood in Louisiana and moving into her life as a young married woman and aspiring writer before arriving at the adoption of Daniel, her first child and only son. Daniel is a good baby at first, but, as Davidson writes, “it didn’t take long for this angelic adorable baby to change into some kind of hyperactive fiend,” beginning around the time he learned to walk. From that point onward, the story is one of strife and combat between mother (and sometimes father) and son, with mom trying to rein in disruptive behavior and Daniel trying to get away with as much as he possibly can, seemingly unconcerned about pleasing his parents or adapting to societal standards of morality. This conflict continues into Daniel’s adulthood, with a dysfunctional pattern of financial abuse and enablement going on for years. Telling her story is clearly cathartic for Davidson, and she is a capable writer, so the book is ultimately hard to put down. Davidson is unguarded in unburdening herself, confessing to early thoughts of wanting to return the toddler-aged Daniel to the adoption agency and to the years of foolish decisions, both in terms of parenting and money. But overall the book is an exercise in steadily divesting herself of guilt and blame. While (as Davidson explains) this is a necessary and fundamental step for the parent of an antisocial child, it nevertheless may leave the reader with a sense of intentional revisionism leveled toward the personal histories of both mother and son. For that reason, the hopeful epilogue is somewhat discomforting, leaving readers wondering whether the most recent positive changes are legitimate or even possible.
Candid and heartbreaking memoir that may appeal to those whose experiences mirror the author’s.