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Compassion for Annie - A Healthy Response to Mental Disorders

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Marilyn Dowellenjoyed a long public service career in the field of librarianship in Colorado and Texas. She received her M.A. from the University of Denver. Later, a life-long learner, she enrolled in a number of post-graduate classes in management at … see full wiki

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Publisher: Langdon Street Press
1 review about Compassion for Annie - A Healthy Response...

Compassion for Annie

  • Dec 3, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+5
Compassion for Annie
Author: Marilyn R. Dowell
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

One man comes home late for dinner due to traffic and construction problems along the way and one woman goes off on him without any reason. Relentless in her tirade, belligerent and uncontrollable in her actions and in her words Annie shows classic signs of mental illness. Not able to control herself, using any excuse to control the situation and belittle her partner she becomes enraged, violent and out of control. Compassion For Annie is a story about a married couple that is totally fictional but yet could be anyone. Mental illness is not something that should be taken lightly nor should the reader or anyone who is not a mental health professional use the information in this book to diagnose a family member, friend or anyone else. But, what this might and can do provide definite warning signs and an understanding of mental illness and the steps you might take to get someone the help they need. Through the many stories presented by author Marilyn Dowell we learn more about BPD and how to deal with this disorder. The research presented is quite detailed and easy to understand. The chapters delineate the many factors attributed to BPD and the experiences poor Annie has are reacted for the reader to help you understand the gravity of the illness and what she is experiencing first hand. The book explains the many strategies need to help Annie and deal with the sufferer as the author states in a kind, compassionate manner. What brings this book into focus is the dialogue between Annie and Fred, which helps the reader; understand their conversations, interactions and much more. At the end of each chapter the author summarizes the information and includes a prayer related to the information and topic in that specific chapter. A bibliography and further readings are also included at the end of each chapter for the reader.

Annie has many disorders while suffering with borderline personality disorder. Other behaviors are exhibited and quite pronounced as a result. Annie gets angry quite easily and often justifies her anger by blaming it on Fred. Fred tried hard to respond in an appropriate manner but it takes a lot of restrain, understanding and foresight to do that and Fred is not really that stable either. The author relates appropriate responses that might have defused Annie's anger when Fred returned home late and concludes the chapter with a detailed summary of anger, how to respond and a prayer for the reader related to dealing with this powerful emotion. The next chapter focuses on boundaries where Fred and Annie discuss a situation about work. Fred explains or tries to explain to Annie that her blunt remarks to her boss could jeopardize her job. The author defines boundaries and how Annie feels that her boss is always criticizing her and that he feels abused and put down at work. Poor Annie does not know how to handle this or many other situations. The author explains the proper responses on pages 11-13 plus a summary of how to deal with this emotion, resources and a prayer.

There are many people like Annie who has more than just one problem Annie has a control problem and would like to map out Fred's time and days according to how she would like them to print out. Codependence is what is discussed next and defined as excessive care- taking control and fixing and placing others- too obsessive. Both Fred and Annie are codependent and want the final say or control over the behavior and actions of the other. Their relationship is fragile but they keep devoid of dignity, respect and freedom. The chapter includes appropriate responses for parties, a short summary, resources and a prayer.

Annie is beaten and mugged and does not remember. She totally forgets that she is not to leave alone in the middle of the night and definitely does not recall any previous episodes. She dissociates from the situation and totally denies that it ever happened. This is frightening to say the least to Fred who gets the call in the middle of the night to come to a hospital after she is mugged. The author discusses the proper responses but also alerts the reader and Fred to the fact that he should not deny that this happened nor pretend it never happened. Next the author goes into detail about Fear and how this emotion plays on their relationship. She is afraid he will leave her and pushes him away if he gets too close and pushes him closer when he pulls away. She is playing an emotional tug of war. Her behaviors are unpredictable and definitely difficult for him to handle. Hate is next, followed by Identity and then impulse. Annie does not think about what she does. She acts on impulse, which leads to disruptive behaviors such as impulse eating or shopping. Annie like many who are unhappy with themselves go on binge eating spurts and then feel dissatisfied, angry and upset when things don't fit them and they realize they gained the weight. Fred could have encouraged her to discuss this with her therapist but did not. Fred accepted her behavior and said nothing. Once again the author asks the reader to focus on his/her reactions and behaviors in order to understand and show compassion for Annie.

The next chapters focus on mood, narcissistic tendencies, paranoid tendencies, self and finally shame and suicide. I will focus the rest of my review on several but not all of these. A dinner conversation about two friends turned into an argument when Annie accuses Fred of having a affair with another woman when he suggest they say hello another couple in a restaurant. Paranoia the author defines as the "inability to trust as well as delusions of persecution." Sad but true that many suffer from this illness and each behavior focused on in this book all are part of someone with borderline personality disorder. It is not normal to be suspicious of everything someone else does say. This is unhealthy. Sometimes it is healthy and will allow you to get to the core of a problem but at other times it is not when we have no control over our lives or the way we handle many situations. This is defined, outlined and discussed in detail in Chapter 12, which I found most enlightening. Annie does not accept responsibility for her own behavior and blames others. Never really feeling guilty about her actions, behaviors and unfortunately justifies her way of thinking. Sad, but true this behavior seems one of the most serious to me and can lead to even more difficult times for Fred. Summarized on pages 94-95 followed by resources and a prayer, which I said for both Annie and Fred. Chapter 13 deals with Self, 14 Shame followed by splitting and the most powerful to me Suicide. When Annie professes in chapter 15 that she never really loved friend and wants him to leave and tries throwing him out, Fred stays calm, answers her and then goes to the golf course to allow her time to cool off. But, when he returns she is gone stating she is going to move out. This is serious and the author describes the meaning of splitting and how it relates to disowning Fred completely and total banishment. Annie really does need help and cannot handle conflict nor can she understand the meaning of love or hate as two separate emotions. Instead, she decides to dissociate herself from Fred, takes her feelings and places them far away in her unconscious mind. If Annie does not get some real help soon who knows what will happen to her or what she will do next. Fred leaves and is told to restart his life without Annie. But, can he?
The last chapter if suicide and that you need to read for yourself. You will understand this chapter and what the end result is after reading each of the compelling and heartbreaking stories of Annie and Fred. You will understand how all of these behaviors blended and intermingled to form the person Annie became, is and really did not want to be yet could not help it. The therapist tried to a point but I guess in some respects you have to decide if enough was done to help her. Ending the book with one more behavior, which deals with self-injury, which is not uncommon. Some cut themselves, bite, overdose on meds, and bang their heads against a wall and much more. These behaviors and others are attention getters, a cry or scream for help and much more.
This is a very enlightening and informative book that adults need to read to understand different disorders and how to deal with them. It is not meant for you to analyze, evaluate or diagnose yourself or anyone else that you might think have the same problems as Annie. What it is meant to do is help you decide if you need help, need to talk with someone or maybe someone in your family does too. Compassion for Annie is quite informative. It will not, as the author states, heal your emotional pain. You need to talk with someone as she did related to that. Websites are included related to borderline personality disorder to help the reader understand it more fully and how to get the help needed for adults and adolescents. The final prayer, which I read for myself, the author and both Fred and Annie, is to give us the wisdom to face our challenges with courage and to seek help if needed. There are many resources included at the end of the book.

This book will help the reader understand someone with this disorder and provides ways to deal with it and help him or her. Those with this disorder I hope as the author does this book will help you understand that you can get help and hopefully understand what you can do to cure your illness. With the right help and right mental health specialist you can find your way back. What happens to Annie in the final story you need to read for yourself? What is the end result for Annie and Fred? This is something that you will have to decide for yourself. This is one powerful book filled with stories that might be fictionalized and created by the author but whose message and events ring true.
Compelling, informative and definitely a must read.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer

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