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Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood [Kindle Edition]

Julie Gregory
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $6.01 (38%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

A young girl is perched on the cold chrome of yet another doctor’s examining table, missing yet another day of school. Just twelve, she’s tall, skinny, and weak. It’s four o’clock, and she hasn’t been allowed to eat anything all day. Her mother, on the other hand, seems curiously excited. She's about to suggest open-heart surgery on her child to "get to the bottom of this." She checks her teeth for lipstick and, as the doctor enters, shoots the girl a warning glance. This child will not ruin her plans.

Sickened

From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on—in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother’s mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the world’s most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretaker—almost always the mother—invents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman.

Sickened is a remarkable memoir that speaks in an original and distinctive Midwestern voice, rising to indelible scenes in prose of scathing beauty and fierce humor. Punctuated with Julie's actual medical records, it re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family's isolated double-wide trailer, their wild shopping sprees and gun-waving confrontations, the astonishing naïveté of medical professionals and social workers. It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie's family together—including the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother's happiness.

The realization that the sickness lay in her mother, not in herself, would not come to Julie until adulthood. But when it did, it would strike like lightning. Through her painful metamorphosis, she discovered the courage to save her own life—and, ultimately, the life of the girl her mother had found to replace her. Sickened takes us to new places in the human heart and spirit. It is an unforgettable story, unforgettably told.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“A painful but wonderfully written memoir that should create greater awareness of a bizarre disorder… Keen self-awareness, a sharp eye for details, and an original, poetic voice.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“This story of unfathomable child abuse is told with remarkable wit, compassion, and courage. It’s a work of beauty from a beast of a childhood.”
--Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and Dry

“Like some Diane Arbus photograph come to life, Julie Gregory's Sickened offers us a portrait of quintessential American Disturbos in all their tender, heinous can't-look-and-can't-look-away glory. A miraculous book by a woman whose very survival is itself a miracle.”
--Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“Set in a southern-culture-on-the-skids world reminiscent of J.T. Leroy, Sickened is written with a lyrical directness that is both riveting and horrific. Julie Gregory reminds us that those who find the courage to slay the dragons of their past and stop the cycle of abuse are the true heroes of the world.”
--Ann Magnuson, actress, singer, writer

"A stunning account by a courageous woman who journeyed from the depths of hell to reclaim her own power and worth. Julie Gregory casts an extraordinary beacon of healing. You will be hearing a lot about this one.”
--Alan Cohen, author of I Had It All the Time

"A born storyteller with perfect pitch, Julie Gregory guides the reader through this surreal form of cruelty, in which the ultimate weapon is the scalpel, with originality, gusto and heart-stopping courage."
--Sylvia Fraser, author of My Father's House: A Memoir of Incest and of Healing

"Gripping self-disclosure by a remarkable young woman . . . Sickened will surely and finally impact the proper diagnosis and ...

From the Back Cover

"A painful but wonderfully written memoir that should create greater awareness of a bizarre disorder... Keen self-awareness, a sharp eye for details, and an original, poetic voice."
--Kirkus Reviews

"This story of unfathomable child abuse is told with remarkable wit, compassion, and courage. It's a work of beauty from a beast of a childhood."
--Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and Dry

"Like some Diane Arbus photograph come to life, Julie Gregory's Sickened offers us a portrait of quintessential American Disturbos in all their tender, heinous can't-look-and-can't-look-away glory. A miraculous book by a woman whose very survival is itself a miracle."
--Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

"Set in a southern-culture-on-the-skids world reminiscent of J.T. Leroy, Sickened is written with a lyrical directness that is both riveting and horrific. Julie Gregory reminds us that those who find the courage to slay the dragons of their past and stop the cycle of abuse are the true heroes of the world."
--Ann Magnuson, actress, singer, writer

"A stunning account by a courageous woman who journeyed from the depths of hell to reclaim her own power and worth. Julie Gregory casts an extraordinary beacon of healing. You will be hearing a lot about this one."
--Alan Cohen, author of I Had It All the Time

"A born storyteller with perfect pitch, Julie Gregory guides the reader through this surreal form of cruelty, in which the ultimate weapon is the scalpel, with originality, gusto and heart-stopping courage."
--Sylvia Fraser, author of My Father's House: A Memoir of Incest and of Healing

"Gripping self-disclosure by a remarkable young woman . . . Sickened will surely and finally impact the proper diagnosis and treatment of children caught in the terror of MBP."
--Chris Monaco, Ph.D., Director, Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline

"This searing and beautiful memoir represents a genuine triumph
of the human spirit."
--Marc D. Feldman, M.D.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and terrifying... August 12, 2005
Format:Paperback
The first time I had heard of Munchausen by Proxy was in my Abnormal Psychology class. I couldn't believe that something like this actually existed. How could someone do this to their child? It is when a caretaker (often a mother) will keep his/her child sick or try to prove to others that the child is sick to gain attention for themselves. Unfortunately many cases go unnoticed because of how easy it is to hide. "A recent study indicates that when a case of MBP is finally recognized, up to 25% of the sickened child's siblings have already died---most likely earlier victims of the perpetrator."

Julie has always been a sickly child, for as long as she could remember. Her mother and grandmother often ran her to the hospital for food poisoning. There were very strange things that would go on in her family. Her grandmother would take her on fishing trips at the age of 3 or 4. She would tell her to hold on to something in the car, and get in a minor car accident. She would do this often, and it would always end the same. The grandmother would "disappear" and Julie would wander off, while crowds gathered, and someone would take her home to her mother. Her grandmother would come back, looking around for her lost granddaughter.

Her father had strange habits as well. He was a war veteran, who would spend days in front of the television, watching endless hours of M.A.S.H., and would yell at anyone who walked in front of the TV. He would only talk to you during commercials.

Her mother took her to endless doctors, only rushing her away to another one when they couldn't find anything wrong with her. When that didn't work, she kept her from eating and didn't give her lunch money. Julie was weak and malnourished. She got migraines quite often.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying Because It's Real September 30, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Julie Gregory was abused as a child. She was abused in one of the most undiscussed ways a child can be violated. Julie was the victim of her mother's mental illness. Her mother suffered from Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome. Julie's mother, Sandy, would feed 3-year-old Julie books of matches and tell her they were lollipops. She would give Julie pills that caused blinding migraines, all the while, taking Julie from doctor to doctor insisting Julie was seriously ill. At the height of her illness, Sandy was trying to have open-heart surgery performed on 12-year-old Julie. And when Julie tried to tell a nurse and her school friends what was happening, no one believed her.

Julie and her brother also endured physical abuse. They were beaten and Julie was constantly starved to make her appear ill. "Sickened" is Julie's heartbreaking, but uplifting story.

I was appauled and horrified by the treatment that Julie suffered. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live with the knowledge that there was nothing wrong with you, but you were at the whim of a deranged mother. This book was an amazing tale of courage and spirit. If you are an abuse survivor, this book will be very hard to read, but it is definitely worth it.

I highly recommend this work.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Won't Let You Go June 24, 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Jim Pierce,
The darkness that permeates SICKENED: A MEMOIR is riveting. There is not the detachment of watching a car wreck. Rather, we feel the tortured confusion of the young girl convinced by her mother that she is ill despite being healthy. What is only now becoming clear in our society is that child abuse is not always a physical act. It is not even a malicious act. It can take so many forms. SICKENED is a unique book not only because of the unique type of abuse it chronicles, but because as a reader you really do feel the turmoil. It is the kind of writing that captures you, pulls you in, and doesn't let go. Rarely can writers accomplish this, particularly in the area of abuse chronicles. That is why the few exceptions (MY FRACTURED LIFE, RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, NIGHTMARES ECHO, and SICKENED) are such riveting books that you really can't get enough of. As someone who reads several books a week, I consider myself lucky when I find just one that hits with the impact of SICKENED, MY FRACTURED LIFE, NIGHTMARES ECHO, or RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. To have found four is true opulence.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling story of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy February 12, 2007
By Becca
Format:Paperback
"Sickened" is an autobiography about the victim of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MBP). MBP is a mental disorder in which a person (usually a mother) inflicts injury on another (usually a child) in order to gain attention and praise. In this case, the author's mother was the predator. It's hard to believe that anyone's childhood could be this awful. Ms. Gregory's childhood was not full of love, but of horrible abuse - such as being starved, given medicine to make her sick, subjected to rigorous and invasive medical tests and procedures for no reason, and being forced to work on the family farm for hours every day while trying to recover from surgery. Not only was her mother abusive, but her father was as well, beating her and (somehow worse) forcing her to eat his used Kleenex. It's shocking to read about how greedy and selfish they are, about the mother taking in foster children and elderly people for the money and then abusing them.

The author does a wonderful job of explaining the disorder, gives a lot of insight into her childhood and information about her family. The book isn't long and is relative fast-paced. It's equally interesting and horrifying. She definitely has a gift for writing. The book flows well, but does slow down a bit when we get to the part about her going to college, and living in her house of mirrors. Somehow, it doesn't seem that she got into much detail about when she found out about MBP her exploration of condition. She doesn't talk much about her therapy, either.

I'm disappointed that there's not much of a follow-up on the book. What happened to the mother? Has she been prosecuted? Is she still taking in foster children? The author has a website, but the link to the "update" page is broken.

This is a very personal and educational book. I highly recommend it to those who are interested in reading about mental conditions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great read on a real topic. Some of it was hard to swallow. I admire the courage it took to share the story.
Published 3 days ago by teacherknowsbest
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Book was excellent,.
Published 9 days ago by Willie Byrd
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
More about child abuse and not as much about MBPS as I thought.
Published 14 days ago by Brook
4.0 out of 5 stars Although there are many memoirs recalling abusive, tortured childhoods...
Although there are many memoirs recalling abusive, tortured childhoods, Julie Gregory writes from a rather unique perspective of growing up a victim of Munchausen by Proxy. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Karen
3.0 out of 5 stars ... read a book that makes you ask ‘’whens the good part going to come
If you want to read a book that makes you ask ‘’whens the good part going to come?’’, well you found the right one. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Beatriz Barros
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love it
Published 2 months ago by Tammy Warner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good book
Published 2 months ago by Sena D.
5.0 out of 5 stars She told everyone, no one listened......
Unbelievable! I have read about this condition but have never read a first hand account from the grown child who survived. Read more
Published 3 months ago by rbagy@aol.com
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a gift for mom
My mom is the reader of the family.... So I ordered this book for her, she got it today and she'll be finished by tonight. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Brit
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Despite the mother's starvation for attention, it was riveting.
Published 4 months ago by marilyn otoole
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