Julie Gregory with Marc D. Feldman
Reviewed by: Carrie Byrd
Review posted: 2/27/04
Sickened is a deeply personal memoir that delves into a childhood characterized by trauma and abuse. The first memoir to reveal the life of a survivor of Munchausen by proxy disease (MBP), Gregory strips away the layers of her past to expose the truth about this disease and its secrets.
Munchausen by proxy is a form of abuse where a parent/guardian causes the victim to have symptoms of illness (sometimes brought on by other physical abuses) in order to draw attention to himself or herself. Often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, MBP is both a disease and a form of abuse.
Sickened is well-written, and moves quickly, dragging you through the many abuses Gregory suffered at top speed, as though she wanted to tell them as quickly as possible to avoid dwelling on them. In some ways, this story is a train wreck. As horrifying as it is, you cannot bring yourself to look away. Written in a deeply personal and revealing way, Gregory does not hesitate to confess her darkest and most painful moments.
This is an almost overwhelming read. So intense is the look into Gregory’s life that you are left feeling almost likes a voyeur, having peeked through the window and seen horrors. It is frustrating to read about the many times the system failed her – when you want to scream for help for her – only to see her go back to be abused again and again. This is not a story of triumph over adversity. This is not an uplifting tale of someone escaping her torment and building a better life for herself. This is pain laid bare for the world to see. Gregory makes it clear that her journey to wellness continues.