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Confessions of a Former Child: A Therapist's Memoir Paperback – April 29, 2008

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About the Author

Daniel J. Tomasulo is a psychologist, psychodrama trainer, and writer on faculty at New Jersey City University.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555974996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555974992
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born on an island off the coast of New Jersey on July 20th, 1951. This means I'm a Jersey boy, which means I've got an attitude. Hey, you got a problem with that?

From Manhattan my parents moved to Brooklyn for a year then to Union City, New Jersey, then to Waldwick until I went off to wrestle at Springfield College in Massachusetts. They broke my bones and tore almost all my ligaments, so decided to go into psychology rather than physical education. I eventually completed my masters in child development at FDU in Teaneck, then enrolled at Yeshiva University in NYC for my PhD in developmental psychology. I completed it just before my 30th birthday.

Along the way I got married and divorced, worked at various human service jobs, and wrote a comedy column for The Aquarian, a rock and roll magazine where I met several performers as a result of hanging out with the music reviewers. I also spent a couple of years as a stand-up comic appearing on the Improv's 20th anniversary special as one of the up-and-comers. During that time I wrote jokes and sold them to magazines and a few major comics of the time. One night I got to have a drink with the comedian, Andy Kaufman, (of Taxi fame) which was a memorable evening. I hope to write about this somewhere down the road. "Tank you berry much."

In the late 70s I ran an experimental group home for YAI, National Institute for People with Disabilities, taking people out of Willowbrook State Hospital, the facility made infamous by Geraldo Rivera's investigative reporting. I left there in 1980 to take a teaching position at Brookdale College where I stayed until September, 2001. I was then appointed to a full-time faculty position at New Jersey City University where I am currently employed.

During that same period of time I became fascinated with psychodrama and began weekly training. After a lengthy apprenticeship (8 1/2 years) I received certification as a psychodramatist, and then followed up with an additional five years of psychodrama supervision. I now train and certify other therapists in these methods, and have a training group of my own. Some of my experiences as a trainee appear in the story Manhattan Transference.

I have published extensively on providing treatment for people with intellectual disabilities, and was co-author of the American Psychological Association's first book on psychotherapy for this population, as well as co-author of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder chapter for the DM-ID the Diagnostic Manual-Intellectual Disabilities published by the National Association for Dually Diagnosed in association with the American Psychiatric Association. This chapter changed the criteria by which people with intellectual disabilities will be diagnosed with PTSD, and is the forerunner of The DSM V, the publication used by mental health clinicians for diagnosing patients.

Our daughter, Devon, has two psychologists as parents. Can you imagine? She was born in 1985 and there are several stories in the book about her birth, and my effort at fatherhood. She recently completed Pacific University's MFA program in poetry.She is now a doctoral candidate.

In the late eighties I developed IBT -Interactive-Behavioral Therapy which has become the most widely used form of group therapy for people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities, and received both the Innovator's and Scholar's Award from the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama. In 2005 I was also honored as The State of New Jersey Healthcare Provider of the year by the ARC. Much of my professional life as a psychologist is spent training clinicians around the United States and other countries wishing to use IBT. I have a private practice in Red Bank, New Jersey. In my clinical practice I work with individuals, couples, and groups. You can learn more about my work as a psychologist at

My writing life -the more serious side of it--began in 1998 when I was awarded a fellowship to Princeton University and took a sabbatical from Brookdale. During this time I was working with the well known social psychologist, John Darley, who studied the people who watched the Kitty Genovese murder in 1964 and created the concept known as the bystander effect (also know as bystander apathy) referring to the account that 38 people witnessed as she was murdered and did nothing about it. While at Princeton I was able to take courses in the writing department, which houses such notables as Paul Muldoon, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, and, at the time, Christopher Durang and Jack Klaff. These courses allowed me to create the essays that became the foundation of what would become the memoir. During the sabbatical I put together a portfolio and had a couple of professors from Princeton write letters of recommendation for me to The New School. In 2000 I returned to graduate school and became a MFA candidate in Creative Non-Fiction writing.

The MFA program at the New School was outstanding for my development as a writer. Robert Polito, Lucy Grealy, and Dani Shapiro were all professors that had a tremendous impact on my development. Dani Shapiro became my thesis advisor and I worked with her after receiving my MFA to get my manuscript in good enough shape to entice an agent. Also following graduation I won the New School's Chapbook contest for Kettle of Fish, and in 2004 Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary Management liked what she read, and in 2006 I contracted with Graywolf to publish the memoir in 2008.

Since the book had been published I have been invited to speak at many bookstores and book clubs -which has been a very enjoyable addition to my professional career. I was also given the opportunity to write for, one of time Magazines top 50 websites.

I also write for Psychology Today as their expert blogger in group therapy.

I am currently working on the screenplay and book with the working title, The Participants, which describes my efforts with some extraordinary people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities.

In 2011 I was very fortunate to be selected to attend the University of Pennsylvania's Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program. I have recently completed the requirement for this degree and have joined the staff in the MAPP program as Martin Seligman's learning assistant. A book proposal: The Power of Positive Being on the use of positive psychology in everyday life is underway.

My favorite quote, you ask?

"There are two words to describe Zen: Not Always So."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rush Roberts on May 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have never seen so much love, hate, anger, laughter, and resolution in a book. There were moments that I laughed hysterically out loud. Other times I was mesmerized at the profoundness of some situations. I even took a half a day of work off to finish the rest of the book. It was like watching someone bake a cake. It seems so simple until its time to do it. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone! Thank you so much to the author for the experience of your experiences!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lisa C. Tener on January 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a book coach, I seldom get to read just for pleasure, without having to edit or mark up a manuscript. What a delight to take this break and read Daniel Tomasulo's Confessions of a Former Child. It meets all my criteria for a fabulous read:
* It made me laugh out loud many times.
* I just had to share excerpts with my husband--it was too good to keep to myself.
* Passages moved me and expanded my world.
* I found myself relating and the book offered me a new perspective on my own parents and myself as a parent--it made me think and grow.

Tomasulo is a master storyteller and his childhood offers many great stories. It's the kind of book that makes you ask, "Why isn't my life as funny as this, or is he just better at seeing the humor in everything?"

I love the way he weaves vignettes together and brings things back around. And his stories about directing the traffic lights from his childhood apartment in NYC are among my favorite.

Looking forward to more from this author!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BermudaOnion VINE VOICE on April 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a child, Daniel J. Tomasulo had a very active imagination. He was convinced his father was a spy, not just an ordinary spy either, but a double agent. He was so proud of his father and would beg to join him on some of his "missions." Daniel also believed that he controlled all of the street lights and traffic lights in Union City, New Jersey and New York City, so he was pretty upset when his family moved to the country. His father solved all of his problems by secretly wiring a local streetlight to all of those in Union City and New York City. When Daniel's mother told him that she became pregnant when a seed grew inside her, he swore off all foods that could possibly contain a seed and subsisted on cream cheese and butter sandwiches, as long as the bread wasn't rye, of course. Daniel grew up, got married and became a psychologist and psychodrama trainer. He tells the story of the first person he did a psychological test on for the state. It was the first time he'd tested someone with an intellectual disability and his patient was quite a character. He shares the story of accidentally decapitating his daughter's Ken doll. He tells of training for and running in the New York City Marathon.

These and other stories are included in Daniel J. Tomasulo's Confressions of a Former Child: A Therapist's Memoir. Tomasulo's writing engaged me right from the beginning. His memories are written in a non-linear fashion, but he writes in such a way that it works. When he writes about his childhood, it's obvious he remembers how it feels to be a child. Some parts of this book are very funny and had me laughing out loud. I even read parts to Carl and he was laughing at it, too. Carl said he could see why I was enjoying the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dan Tomasulo gives an insightful look at life through a therapists eyes in "Confessions of a Former Child."
I knew the book would be a "great read" for all ages as I wrestled my nineteen year old son to get my copy back from him and a chance to devour another chapter. The stories captivated my attention from the start with funny anecdotes about family obligations, and heartfelt accounts of the emotions tied to the birth of a child, as well as the death of aging parents. A thoroughly delightful interpretation of life's twists and turns that keeps the reader enthralled from beginning to end. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be entertained and enlightened, as the stories in this memoir merge both wonderfully.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Manni on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Having known Dan and his wife Nancy, I was expecting to roar with laughter the way I do when I speak to him in person......well I did roar with laughter, but I also teared up in places because I related so closely to some of these stories from Dan's childhood. We are the same age (two months apart) and my Dad and his family are of Italian descent so some of Dan's anecdotal stories were similar to experiences I had growing up in the fifties and sixties. The fact is, I realized after reading this book that I am still growing up and I don't ever want to lose my childhood enthusiasm for matter how tough it gets. This book is a must read for anyone with a sense of humor and the willingness to shed a tear.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Biebel on June 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one that you wish would go one a few more chapters. If you are like me, you will see yourself and your family in much of the book. Every chapter provides lots of laughs coupled with some insightful thoughts on how our family relationships shape us. I'm looking forward to reading it again. Don't miss this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen H. Shaheen on November 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Daniel Tomasulo's memoir offers uncommon insight into the journey of a man who, as he moves through adult life in his professional training and practice as a psychologist, reflects upon the connections between his childhood and present. Alternately poignant and whimsical, this accessible read is a genuine page-turner filled with delightful and sometimes harrowing surprises.

Tomasulo adroitly weaves episodes from his adult life with anecdotes from childhood, sussing out a constellation of relationships between events that span years and are sometimes unapparent. From an escapade with a childhood friend that nearly ends in tragedy, to his humorous attempt as an adult to run the New York City marathon, the author takes us on a jaunt across decades that is both entertaining and informative.

Written by a clinically-trained therapist, these divulgements are refreshingly intimate and down to earth, though laced with particular observations that would not be possible without his background. In part, this is what makes for such an interesting read, especially when Tomasulo explores the darker and more complicated history with his parents, and how his early familial relationships play out in adult life. Unexpectedly, I discovered that his own revelations prompted me to ponder my own experiences, especially the chapters in which he relates the use of "psychodrama" to come to grips with and achieve closure in physically inaccessible relationships with unfinished business.
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