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Turco, R.N. (2014). Far from the Tree—Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, by Andrew Solomon, Scribner, New York, 2012, 962 pp., $37.50.. Psychodyn. Psych., 42(4):695-700.
(2014). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 42(4):695-700
Far from the Tree—Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, by Andrew Solomon, Scribner, New York, 2012, 962 pp., $37.50.
Review by: Ronald N. Turco, M.D.
This remarkable book brings together science, medicine, sociology, and psychology as these disciplines relate to the issues of the challenges of parenthood and more. It is thought provoking regarding the understanding of human differences and confrontational regarding our ingrained attitudes and prejudices, as the author's perspective is that it is diversity that unites all of us. The information is supported by facts, and multiple points of view are presented. The amount of material is substantial and replete with very sensitive examples. Solomon has travelled and personally done his own interviews and extensive research (40 thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than 300 families).
There are 12 chapters in this book: Son, Deaf, Dwarfs, Down Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, Disability, Prodigies, Rape, Crime, Transgender, and Father. A review of this length will not do justice to the enormity of information and thought-provoking material presented so sensitively, but will serve to introduce the reader to an entirely different way of examining one's own feelings, as well as to a more comprehensive understanding of the circumstances of the lives of people we may have had little experience with.
In the first chapter the author discusses his personal life and development which may be summed up by his statement: “The problem is to change how we assess the value of individuals and of lives, to reach for a more ecumenical take on healthy” (p. 5). He notes that realism allows parents of “special needs children” to regain control over what is happening and to come to see their trauma as smaller than it first seemed.
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