Relationships
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
"Intimate" Violence against Women3 NBS of Julian DrewA Little PregnantA Natural History of RapeA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAbout a BoyAdult Children of Emotionally Immature ParentsAlmost a PsychopathAlone TogetherAnatomy of LoveAngelsAnother CountryAnxious ParentsApples and OrangesBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeing the Other OneBetrayed as BoysBeyond AddictionBipolar DisorderBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking ApartBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBringing Up ParentsBut I Love HimCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysCherishmentChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedChildren, Families, and Health Care Decision MakingClawsCloserCold HitCoping With Difficult PeopleCouple SkillsCruddyDancing in My NuddypantsDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingEcstasyEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional Intelligence at WorkEntwined LivesErotic PassionsEssentials of Premarital CounselingEvery Pot Has a CoverFacts About ADHD ChildrenFamilies Like MineFamilyFamily BoundFamily FirstFear of IntimacyFinal JeopardyFind MeFlashpointFor Lesbian ParentsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGirl in the MirrorGirl StuffGoing Home without Going CrazyHandbook of AttachmentHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHappiness Sold SeparatelyHard to GetHe's Just Not That Into YouHealing ConversationsHollow KidsHot ButtonsHot Chocolate for the Mystical LoverHow Families Still MatterHow to Create Chemistry with AnyoneHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!I Don't Know How She Does ItI Hate You-Don't Leave MeI Only Say This Because I Love YouI'm OK, You're My ParentsIn the Mood, AgainInside the American CoupleIntrusive ParentingIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingKeeping Passion AliveKeeping Your Child in MindLet's Get This StraightLiberation's ChildrenLife's WorkLikely to DieLove JunkieLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLoving Someone with Borderline Personality DisorderLust in TranslationMaking the RunMaking the RunManic DepressionMars and Venus - Starting Over.Mating in CaptivityMom, Dad, I'm Gay.MotherstylesMurder in the InnMysterious CreaturesNecessary NoiseOdd Girl OutOpenOpening to Love 365 Days a YearOphelia's MomOrgasmsOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the DustParenting and the Child's WorldParenting on the GoParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerParents and Digital TechnologyParents Do Make a DifferencePassionate MarriagePlanet JanetPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Raising AmericaRaising ElijahRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Kids in the 21st CenturyRaising Resilient ChildrenRay's a LaughRelationship RescueRespect-Me RulesRomantic IntelligenceRoom For JSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf-NurtureSelfish, Shallow, and Self-AbsorbedSex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShidduch CrisisSickenedSingleSlut!Socrates in LoveSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Staying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop SignsStop Walking on EggshellsStop Walking on EggshellsStrong, Smart, & BoldSummer of the SkunksSurviving a Borderline ParentTaking Charge of AngerTelling SecretsThank You for Being Such a PainThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Birth of PleasureThe Brief Couples Therapy Homework Planner with DiskThe Bully Action GuideThe Burden of SympathyThe Commercialization of Intimate LifeThe CorrectionsThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe DisappearanceThe Dream BearerThe Educated ParentThe Emotional RevolutionThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe EpidemicThe Ethics of ParenthoodThe Ethics of the FamilyThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good DivorceThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Hostile HospitalThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Little FriendThe Love HexagonThe Moral Intelligence of ChildrenThe Neuroscience of Human RelationshipsThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Psychology of Parental ControlThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Reflective ParentThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of WivesThe Spider and the BeeThe StepsThe Story of My FatherThe Velveteen FatherThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Whole ChildTo Have and To Hurt:Two Is EnoughUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhitchedUp in FlamesWe've Got IssuesWhat about the KidsWhat Goes UpWhat Is Secular Humanism?What It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen Mars Women DateWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhy Are You So Sad?Will You, Won't You?WomanWorking With Emotional IntelligenceWorried All the TimeYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!

Related Topics
Special SiblingsReview - Special Siblings
Growing Up With Someone with a Disability
by Mary McHugh
Paul H Brookes, 1999
Review by Kevin T. Keith
Apr 16th 2004 (Volume 8, Issue 16)

Mary McHugh's younger brother, Jack, has a severe cognitive disability secondary to cerebral palsy. Her life has been shaped by her experiences with Jack, first growing up in a household with a "special" child, later as an adult attempting to make her own way while coming to terms with her brother's need for assistance. In Special Siblings: Growing Up with Someone with a Disability, McHugh surveys some issues and difficulties faced by siblings of the disabled. The "special siblings" are both the disabled and non-disabled children in such households, because, as she says, "it's important to point out that we are all special."

The book is intended as an advisory for those with disabled siblings. It identifies important issues such persons face and reports some people's experiences dealing with them. It is organized roughly along the developmental process, with sections for "Childhood," "Adolescence," and "Adulthood"; each section contains chapters devoted to particular issues arising in those stages of life. Each chapter opens with illustrative anecdotes, then a fuller exploration using quotes from various individuals (usually people relating their own experiences as siblings of a disabled person, but occasionally caregivers or researchers), and sometimes data from research studies. It is not an academic treatise; each topic is covered by example rather than discursive explanation (McHugh's and her subjects' stories, collectively, make up the vast majority of the text), and the book reads like a collection of reminiscences, organized thematically, with minimal linking material. The book rarely recommends specific courses of action; more often it expands on the problem through quotes and stories, then points out different aspects of the issue and its possible solutions.

The book is also a personal outlet for the author. Every chapter begins with a story from her life, and intersperses the quotes and data from other sources with further discussion of her experiences; by far the most commonly-heard first-person perspective is her own. The content of the book closely reflects her issues also. Because her brother has a cognitive impairment, mental disabilities heavily predominate; physical disabilities are treated much more cursorily. Mental "disability" is treated in more depth than mental "illness," as well, (though McHugh makes some useful distinctions between the two). Important issues are glossed over, apparently because they didn't happen to arise in Jack's life (among these are responding to disabled siblings' sexual and romantic relationships, managing violent siblings, assisting in raising the children of disabled siblings who become parents, and others). McHugh shares candidly her residual resentment of the difficulties imposed by her brother's condition, and her anger at her parents for their mis-steps in handling it. She writes: "I am still trying to feel love for [Jack], but after a lifetime of wishing he weren't my brother, I still have a long way to go." These passages give the book a great deal of emotional power, but again skew its content too much in the direction of personal therapy for the author, and away from an even-handed survey of issues faced by others.

Organization and writing style are problematical. The sections on childhood and adolescence comprise over half the text, but it is not clear what readers are expected to do with that information: the writing style assumes an audience whose childhoods are far behind them. How the author relates to the audience is similarly obscure: the text sometimes veers into the second person ("You may be angry at your parents for bringing you into this abnormal family in the first place") like a self-help manual, at other times retreats to the third person.

These questions of content, focus, and tone are the book's chief weaknesses – and they are not trivial. However, there is a wealth of useful material included. Of interest are the sections on birth order of the disabled and non-disabled siblings, their relative ages, and changes in social expectations and options for disability care from McHugh's parents' generation to today (advice to "put her in a mental institution and tell [the] other children that she had died" is, one hopes, no longer heard). Also important is material on adolescent resentment and embarrassment, the decision by siblings of the disabled whether or not to have children, and planning for continuance of care after the siblings' parents die. None of these is a cut-and-dried issue, and they are treated, within the limited scope of their respective brief sections, in their complexity.

Special Siblings is not the exhaustive treatment of its topic; it is too anecdotal, too personal, and too unfocused to qualify as a comprehensive treatise. Its use of research data, in particular, is minimal in most places and uncritical where present. However, the book will certainly prove useful to adult siblings of the disabled, both in understanding and working through their experiences in childhood and beyond, and in planning for the life issues that still lie ahead for them and their siblings. Sophisticated adolescents may find it somewhat interesting (especially by way of seeing that there are others out there like them), but it is short on practical advice for them. Children will not be able to use it, but it may help the parents of "special siblings" to understand the tensions in that sibling relationship and find ways to ameliorate them. Professionals may find it a useful resource for their patients, and in understanding the particular feelings and frustrations of their patients who are, or who have, "special siblings." If Special Siblings is not the last word on its topic, it is a more than good-enough beginning.

 

2004 Kevin T. Keith

 

Kevin T. Keith, M.A., City College, CUNY


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7900 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716