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Kahn, C. (2009). Hurry Down Sunshine. By Michael Greenberg. New York: Other Press, 2008, 248 pp. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(4):709-713.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(4):709-713

Hurry Down Sunshine. By Michael Greenberg. New York: Other Press, 2008, 248 pp

Review by:
Charlotte Kahn, ED.D.

I think of the blizzard of images that I've stored about madness, the lore of lunacy that I brought to the ward when Sally was admitted, as vivid and unreal as the ogre in the forest or the wolf at the door. (p. 157)

Only very few of us, psychoanalysts and family therapists whose practice is confined to our private offices, are privy to the experiences of the family when one member is suddenly felled by a manic episode or any other form of psychosis. Through this eloquent, elegantly composed memoir, Michael Greenberg permits us to see the frightful events, his feelings and observations, and the reactions of several family members during the summer of 1996, when his fifteen-year old daughter Sally is “struck mad.”

Endowed with superior intelligence, Sally saw the world differently from almost everyone else; she created a “chasm,” “the place where imagination thrives” (p. 8). Nevertheless, she had difficulty learning to read in elementary school and was assigned to special-ed classes. She returned to regular classes after having mastered the rudimentary word sounds at a learning lab. Then, nine years later, when Michael arises in the early morning of July 5, he does not find Sally in the apartment, only the debris of a restless night and, on scattered leaves of paper, lines of poems that, she confided to her father, “come to her … like birds flying in a window” (p. 6).

And when everything should be quiet

your fire fights to burn a river of sleep.

Why should the great breath of hell kiss

what you see, my love?

Michael soon meets her rounding the street corner at a nearby coffee shop, where she confronts him with a violent look in her eyes and declares, “If you knew what was going through my mind … but you don't have a clue. You don't know anything about me. Do you, Father?” (p. 10).

That evening, when Michael and his wife Pat return home, they find the kitchen knives hidden and a note to call Robin—Michael's high school sweetheart, ex-wife, and Sally's mother, now living in Vermont with her second husband.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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