Childhood Disorders
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinConsuming KidsContesting ChildhoodCount Us InCrackedCrossesCutCyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy TeensDamageDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDisconnected KidsDoing SchoolDon't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning!Don't Pick On MeDying to Be ThinEarly Intervention Programs and PoliciesEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismEight Stories UpElijah's CupEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEpilepticEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEvery Girl Tells a StoryExiting NirvanaExploiting ChildhoodEye ContactFacing BipolarFamily HistoryFast GirlsForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillFrictionGirl CultureGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlhoodGirlWiseHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHandbook of Preschool Mental HealthHealing ADDHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Hyperactive KidsHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHelping Students Overcome Depression and AnxietyHelping Teens Who CutHollow KidsHope's BoyHow Infants Know MindsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHurry Down SunshineI Am Not Joey PigzaIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf Your Adolescent Has an Eating DisorderIn the Company of CraziesIncorporating Social Goals in the ClassroomIntegrated YogaIntrusive ParentingIssues for Families, Schools and CommunitiesJake RileyJoey Pigza Loses ControlJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKim: Empty InsideLearning and Behavior Problems in Asperger SyndromeLearning Disorders and Disorders of the Self in Children and AdolescentsLearning Outside the Lines Let Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLook Me in the EyeLoserLove and SexLove That DogMad at SchoolMaking ADD WorkMaking American BoysManicMastering Anger and AggressionMaverick MindMedicating ChildrenMind FieldsMind to MindMommy I'm Still in HereMore Than a LabelMy Flesh and BloodMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNo Child Left DifferentNo Two AlikeNon-Drug Treatments for ADHDNot Much Just Chillin'NurtureShockOdd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the WoodsOvercoming ADHDOvercoming School AnxietyParenting a Child Who Has Intense EmotionsParenting Children With ADHDParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople with HyperactivityPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPlease Don't Label My ChildPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Problem GirlsPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPurgeRaising a Moody ChildRaising BlazeRaising Generation RxRaising Resilient ChildrenReady or Not, Here Life ComesReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRemembering Our ChildhoodResilience in ChildrenRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRunning with ScissorsRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySeeing EzraSex and the American TeenagerSex, Therapy, and KidsSexting and Young PeopleSexual Teens, Sexual MediaShort Term 12Should I Medicate My Child?SmashedSnapshots of AutismSongs Without WordsSophie Spikey Has a Very Big ProblemSpeakStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsStraight Talk about Psychological Testing for KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrange SonStudent DepressionSuicidal Behavior in Children and AdolescentsSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTemple GrandinThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bipolar ChildThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully Action GuideThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Burn JournalsThe Color of AbsenceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Explosive ChildThe Eyes of van GoghThe Fasting GirlThe Field of the DogsThe Flight of a DoveThe Hidden Gifts of the Introverted ChildThe Horse BoyThe Identity TrapThe Inner World of a Suicidal YouthThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Kindness of StrangersThe Last Normal ChildThe Little MonsterThe Medicated ChildThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of AutismThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Ride TogetherThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Science of ADHDThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Survival Guide for Kids With LD*The Unhappy ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouThings Tom LikesThrough the Glass WallThumbsuckerTotally WiredTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreating ADHD and Comorbid DisordersTreatment of Childhood DisordersTwistedUnder the Wolf, Under the DogUnhappy TeenagersUnstrange MindsWastedWe've Got IssuesWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWhat about the KidsWhat in the World Are Your Kids Doing Online?What Works for Whom?What Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhose America?Why Don't Students Like SchoolWill's ChoiceWinnicott On the ChildWorried All the TimeYou Hear MeYoung Minds in Social WorldsYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?

Related Topics
The Inner World of a Suicidal YouthReview - The Inner World of a Suicidal Youth
What Every Parent and Health Professional Should Know
by Millie Osborne
Praeger, 2008
Review by Antti Kuusela, MA
Mar 3rd 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 10)

The Inner World of a Suicidal Youth tells the story of Electra, a twenty-two year old girl who committed suicide in 2002. The book is based around the actual diary entries written by Electra during over a decade. As such it is an interesting description of a depressed teenage mind and shows how deep and dark the abyss of severe depression can be. As stated in the preface of the book it is a fact that every year in the United States more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, and asthma combined. Suicide is thus a severe problem influencing a large number of families. In the United States, every year 250 000 people try to end their lives and approximately 32 000 succeed. Suicide is nevertheless an act which, so the health professionals claim, could be prevented in many cases. Millie Osborne's book is meant to increase the understanding about the workings of a young suicidal mind and thus help parents and health professionals detect alarming signs which may indicate that a teenager is in a danger zone. This is certainly an important objective.

I had high expectations for the book. I thought that after reading it I could actually understand the inner world of a suicidal youth a little bit better. Electra's diary markings showed how her depression slowly progressed to a point where suicide seemed to be the only alternative and exit to be taken. The views of Electra which cover roughly twelve years also describe her development as a person in an interesting way. Whereas some of the first marks do not notably differ from the "normal anxious thoughts" of a teenager, later notes express views filled with self-loathing, hate and feelings of meaninglessness. By reading Electra's own thoughts the reader is able to get a partial perspective to the world through the eyes of a suicidal young person. This perspective does not offer an explanation why some young people are suicidal whereas others are not but Electra's first-person account is worth reading as a sad story of one particular life. The diary markings could have been published under the title "Electra's Diary". That kind of book would have been interesting.

This being said, The Inner World of a Suicidal Youth did not fill my expectations at all, on the contrary. In addition to the diary entries the book includes roughly thirty-five pages of Millie Osborne's analyses. These analyses which should be the substantial part of the book are very disappointing and the tone is something else than what one should expect from a professional psychiatrist. Osborne's analysis about Electra's situation and development seem nothing more than her opinions or guesses regarding what could have lead to Electra's suicide. Given the fact that the subtitle of the book is "what every parent and health professional should know" it is utterly unclear why the author spends pages analyzing, for example, Electra's mother in the following way: "She was waitressing at a seafood restaurant in Manhattan when she first met him [Electra's father]. Handsome, tall, and articulate, he had all of the familiar signs of a man with wealth; after all he came with the lunch crowd of silk patterned business suits." If, as Osborne notes, the book is meant to be an in-depth account of the evolution of self-esteem and the suicidal process one cannot but imagine what the relevance of the above-described passages is. It is also interesting how the book can describe events, like the first meeting of Electra's parents, which took place in 1979. True, it is mentioned in the preface that Electra's life was researched and examined through discussions with family and friends. One can suppose that this kind of research gives a very distorted picture about the actual relations inside the family.

Given the fact that Millie Osborne is a MD and a psychiatrist it is more than surprising that she does not offer any substantial explanation for Electra's depression and suicidal thoughts. Osborne does not mention any psychological theories and does not refer to psychological research which would support her analyses. The text is non-technical and easy to read.  This is reflected also in the level of Osborne's analysis: "She wanted to live. She wanted to enjoy her life and the people in it...She could not internalize happiness, as much as she wanted it, even envied it as apparent in those around her...Electra was a troubled person who used suicidal obsession to try and solve general life problems people face every day. Troubled people like Electra need a different kind of help, beyond basic counseling; the kind of help that proves very challenging to even the most credentialed experts." This kind of "analysis" is something that any undergraduate student of psychology could write. In the back cover of the book it is claimed that Inner World of the Suicidal Youth will spur more effective means to recognize, treat and heal those at risk and vastly reduce suicide among youth. Given the shallowness of the analysis I have to conclude that this claim is a gross overstatement.

One more complaint, perhaps the most severe, that needs to be raised against Osborne's book is this. In the final analysis we again hear low-level analysis about what happiness is. The author explains: "Happiness is the ability to take control of those actions and inactions that help build the fabric of life. Happiness is what rescues us from disappointment and loss. Happiness is planted in the first ten years of life by parents that project the earthly image of a loving God onto their children. Happiness is God." How seriously Osborne's references to God should be taken is unclear but it is certain that a scientific psychological study should not include them.

The book is advertised as a scientific study in psychology and that was the reason why I opened it with high expectations. After reading it I must say that I cannot recommend it to anyone. This is a shame because Electra's own thoughts are actually worth reading. Unfortunately, they should have been published without Millie Osborne's speculations.  

© 2009 Antti Kuusela

Antti Kuusela, MA, is finishing his PhD thesis in the philosophy of mind. He is also studying behavioral sciences and psychology in order to get the competence to work as a teacher of philosophy in high school. He lives in Helsinki, Finland. You can contact him through antti.o.kuusela@helsinki.fi


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 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