Dr. Victoria Greenleaf is not only a respected psychiatrist, but a prize winning poet, journalist and public speaker, she has many honors and has raised three sons, one of whom is a psychopath.
This very tender memoir about her and her son’s relationship and how it poisoned her otherwise good marriage to her husband who was intent upon “saving” their son by giving him money and rescuing him from consequences of illegal and irresponsible behavior.
This story is “every parent’s” story even though Dr. Greenleaf had the perspective of a mental health professional in dealing with her son, none-the-less, she was also a grieving parent who wrestled with the “legal abuse system” and judges who would not send her son, or even allow her to send her son to “appropriate treatment,” but insisted on “giving him another chance” because he was smart and came from a “good family” and “wasn’t like” all those other thieves, robbers and addicts. She “fought” family and spouse and community who did “not get it” about what her son was.
Dr. Greenleaf shares her very personal pain at the chaos her son’s psychopathology created in the family, how the shame before the community effected her, how she hid and covered up, as I did, my own son’s behavior or being “missing in action” (in prison) when people would ask me where he was, I’d say “he lives in Texas” (yea, in a prison cell) or I might add, “He works for the State of Texas” (yea, in the prison for 10 cents an hour.)
Though she was financially able to hire attorneys, put her son into private school, provide him with medical and legal care, and had a professional outlook on what was going on with her son, she shares the same frustration in trying to find “appropriate care” that many of us as parents of psychopathic offspring have done. Dr. Greenleaf also recognizes that there is some genetics involved in this as well. Her father is psychopathic and she recognizes that she has passed this genetic tendency on to her son.
For anyone with a child who is showing psychopathic traits I highly recommend this book. It won’t answer your problem of “How do I fix this?,” but this is a highly readable and personal book and will graphically illustrate that you are not alone in your questions of how to cope with this child or adult child.
Dr. Greenleaf’s son mellows some as he reached middle age, and their relationship is distant, and he didn’t turn out to be a serial killer, just a run-of-the mill mid-level psychopath who is a failure at relationships with others and moderately abusive to his significant other. Incapable of empathy, connection or altruism.