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Weisel-Barth, J. (2019). BROKEN LIVES IN OFF-THE-GRID AMERICA: A REVIEW OF EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER AND LEAVE NO TRACE, DIRECTED BY DEBRA GRANIK. Psychoanal. Self. Cxt., 14(2):220-223.

(2019). Psychoanalysis, Self, and Context, 14(2):220-223

Review

BROKEN LIVES IN OFF-THE-GRID AMERICA: A REVIEW OF EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER AND LEAVE NO TRACE, DIRECTED BY DEBRA GRANIK

Joye Weisel-Barth, Ph.D., Psy.D.

Damaged fathers of adolescent daughters—these are the main relationships in two works from last year: Tara Westover’s (2018) Educated, a fascinating memoir, and Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace, an incandescent film (2018). Coincidently, both daughters, Tara and Tom, grew up off the social grid in America’s Northwest wilderness, gorgeous wooded country that is home to survivalists; right-wing kooks; and many who, for complicated psychological reasons, cannot function in civilization. Each of the girls is highly intelligent and a sensitive observer of her environment. But beyond these factors, similarities between the girls and their families cease; the two father–daughter pairs could not be more different. Tara’s father is paranoid and brutal, whereas Tom’s is loving, protective, and deeply engaged with his daughter’s development. As psychologists interested in understanding individuation, resilience, and the impact on development of having troubled parents—and as citizens interested in understanding fringe cultural movements in our country—the memoir and the movie offer profound insights and understandings.

Tara Westover grew up in a large Mormon family in the remote Idaho wilderness. At the radical fringe of the Mormon religion with no school, sports, electronics, candy or coffee, or any other contact with the larger American culture, the family was isolated, their vision of the world wholly organized by the father’s fundamentalist beliefs.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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